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HP’s updated Dragonfly – and rethinking laptops for a post-COVID-19 world

Disclosure:  Most companies mentioned are clients of the author.

HP briefed us on its updated HP Elitebook Dragonfly laptop, the first laptop that’s gone through a design revision with an eye on our new post-pandemic world. The relevant change: a finish that can survive being wiped by a disinfectant with high alcohol content. These disinfectants, which can kill the coronavirus, tend to ruin the finish on laptops with anything but a metal finish. The Dragonfly has significant improvements to its noise cancellation capabilities for virtual conferences (and for blocking outr other folks’ kids or pets). And it has an extremely bright screen (1,000 nits for outdoor use) with privacy options for those of us going insane at home and working outside as a claustrophobia remedy. 

This got me thinking about what other changes we need to make to laptops to fully pivot to a world where we travel less and primarily work from home. I’ve written before that screen size should grow significantly because we rarely move now from office to plane to remote location; we’re reduced to just moving around the home.

So let’s get to it.

A better camera solution

Dell, some years back, made an XPS with a camera below the screen even though, then, most of us rarely video conferenced on our laptops. (The camera was broadly trashed as a “nose hair” camera because that was the view it provided.)  Dell fixed the design, thankfully, but cameras in general – even though at the top of the screen – remain too low. 

There are at least five ways to fix this. One is to find a way to raise the camera in the notebook.  With the Motorola Smartphone I have, the camera is motorized and lifts out of the phone. A similar technology with a far longer arm could work, though I worry about robustness and complexity and think it would be too fragile. Another option would be to make the camera removable and use a magnetic extension that would easily break off at the magnet – protecting the camera, laptop and arm in case of mishaps. This solution is more robust, but users will still likely lose the camera and arm at a high rate. (This could be a revenue opportunity like the AirPods are for Apple.)

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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