We are still waiting for the big year of the laptop

After a long, long month of laptop releases, Computex 2022 is finally over. In some ways Computex was not.

The start of this year has been an exciting time to be a laptop reporter. Each company and its mother announced that big ideas were on the way. Wacky products abounded, monitors at Phone(s). LG Display (which supplied the 13.3-inch panel for Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold) showed a 17 inch foldable OLED filter. We’ve seen RGB, OLED and haptics galore. Chipmakers have promised architectural innovations and performance gains. We were told that all of this would happen soon.

At the end of May, Computex was held, the biggest show of the year dedicated to laptop computers. (Well, that was really the whole month of May – since many of the global participants couldn’t make it to Taiwan, most companies just did their own thing and threw in their outings each time, but that’s (that’s another story. I’m still recovering from this month of non-stop announcements, please don’t text me.) It would have been the perfect time for some of these innovative releases to be, you know, published. Or get a release date.

But we didn’t get them at Computex 2022. The show was, in fact, aggressively unexciting. We had a lot of chip bumps. We got higher refresh rate displays. We have a HP Specter x360 with more rounded corners. (To be clear, I’m personally very enthusiastic about rounded corners, but I may be the only person on the planet in this boat.)

Don’t get me wrong: incremental upgrades, both to internal specs and externals, are important. They will make a difference in people’s lives. Companies don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every laptop they release. But it’s worth noting that a number of devices that really look set to expand or redefine their categories aren’t here yet (or if they are, I can’t find them on sale).

This is the Elite Dragonfly G3, which you can’t buy yet.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

Here are some highly anticipated products announced earlier this year that still haven’t arrived on my desk:

  • Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, originally announced at CES for Q2 2022. There are 25 days left until the second trimester at the time of this writing, and we don’t even have a confirmed price yet. It’s one of many foldable 17-inch laptops we’ve been waiting for this year – Samsung too showed one at CESand HP is rumored to have one in the works. We saw neither at Computex.
  • The XPS 13 2-in-1, one of the most important models in the convertible space. Okay, so this one hasn’t been announced yet, but it has been leaked – and according to leaksDell is probably moving this product away from the Traditional 2-in-1 form factor and in a Similar to Surface Pro device. No mention of this in May.
  • The non-business version of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, the unique device that Edge the staff were most enthusiastic about this year. It’s set to be the first Chromebook to include a haptic trackpad and Intel vPro, among other awesome new features. This was supposed to ship in April when it was announced at CES. At the beginning of May we received an update – it’s coming now “this summer”but currently not in stock.
  • Speaking of HP, the equally exciting Dragonfly G3, which finally brings 3:2 display to the high-end business line and which we’ve seen a january prototypehas been originally scheduled for March. Looking at the HP website, it looks like it won’t ship until July.
  • Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus Gen 3, the 2022 version that I’m most personally excited about. It is a 17-inch dual-screen device. While dual-screen devices that place the keyboard at the front of the deck can still be good enough, their positioning is not suitable for everyone. The ThinkBook Plus puts the screen to the side, keeping the keyboard in its usual position (albeit a bit far to the left) and keeps the touchpad at a usable size, a layout that might be more convenient for many people . It was legitimately very cool to use in Lenovo’s CES demo area, and could potentially be a useful imagination of the dual-screen form factor. This was supposed to ship in Maybut “coming soon” according to the Lenovo site.
  • Nor is there yet any sign of the ThinkPad Z series, an awesome new line of ThinkPads that targets Gen Z, includes a haptic touchpad and vegan leather cover, and is potentially a new take on who a business laptop can benefit from. It was supposed to ship in Maybut no dice so far. (The website, as of this writing, still says “Coming Spring 2022.”
  • RDNA3AMD’s next generation Radeon GPU which is rumored to bring crazy performance improvements. The updates AMD showed off were still a big announcement, but the reported single-threaded gains were disappointing by comparison.

It’s not all bad news. Some of 2022’s most anticipated devices have launched on schedule, including a number of products on the gaming side like Asus ROG Flow Z13. And, of course, companies deviate from their plans all the time. But I checked my impression with Gartner Research VP Stephen Kleynhans, and it seems to be true: Overall, we’re seeing delays in PC shipments, which in turn are impacting builds. . This isn’t a problem unique to the PC space, of course – industries across the board, including the automotive realm, are locked in.

The Lenovo ThinkBook plus Gen 3 keyboard seen from above.  The main screen displays a blue swirl on a white background.

Photo by Monica Chin/The Verge

These delays, according to Kleynhans, are, unsurprisingly, “primarily supply chain issues”, and they are largely related to the current COVID situation in China, which has led to lockdowns in major tech hubs. Kleynhans told me that ‘until China really opens up, which seems to be what we’re seeing now, and can catch up with the backlog that’s been created, we’re going to continue to see disruption on top of the disruptions that were already there.” He thinks the availability of PCs could be disrupted “at least towards the summer and towards the end of the year”.

According to Kleynhans, not only are companies struggling to source current-gen units, but it also has to do with last-gen order fulfillment. “If you have a customer who placed an order for 1,000 machines three or four months ago and they still haven’t received them, you don’t want to release this year’s model while those orders are in process. “, Kleynhans told me. . We’re certainly seeing delays on current models, too — many of Apple’s newest MacBook Pros are showing late-July or later delivery dates. (Apple is widespread to have a new MacBook Air in the pipeline, and it will be interesting to see if the company is able to meet its usual short-term availability schedule.)

When it comes to supply chain delays, the PC market isn’t the most affected (or the most important) industry. The world will keep spinning if 17-inch foldable PCs take longer than expected to ship. And laptop lags aren’t the biggest or most impactful consequence of this pandemic.

Still, this situation should serve as a reminder of a fact that, frankly, is always worth remembering: the PC space has so many moving parts. A lot of things had to go right to deliver the laptop you’re typing on right now, and the laptop I’m typing on right now (it’s a Zephyr G14, if you are curious) on our doorstep. It’s fun to live in a world full of haptics, foldables and 2X performance gains at the start of the year. But the real world is more complicated and boring, and even the coolest innovations require all sorts of logistical stars to align.

#waiting #big #year #laptop

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