Computex is the huge technology show that kicks off in Asia this time of year, and typically is a showcase of interesting products set to launch before the year-end holidays. Traditionally, it has been more of a PC show and with the decline of PCs a lot of the excitement connected to the show has declined as well. This year there is a clear shift not only in what the show covers expanding strongly out of PCs but in revalidating PCs as a viable future platform as well. Given PCs were supposedly killed by tablets and tablets are declining faster than PCs that whole “PC is Dead” thing needed to be reevaluated anyway.
Three products that have been announced so far validate both the pivot to other technologies and the revitalization of the PC segment.
Dell’s 17” 2-in-1
This is one of a host of products Dell and others announced early on at Computex. I’m calling out the new Intel based Dell Inspiron 13 7000 17” 2-in-1 because it represents what may be the only 2-in-1 used as a 2-in-1. You see the dirty little secret about 2-in-1s folks – with some unique exceptions – is they don’t use them in tablet configurations. This is like buying a convertible car but never actually putting the top down. Granted, they are very slim sexy notebooks but they are mostly used as slim, sexy notebooks because, as tablets, they are relatively heavy, have relatively poor battery life and don’t run the majority of tablet apps. And, since most folks already have tablets, which are thinner, lighter, and have better battery life, they just use them as notebooks.
But a 17” 2-in-1 isn’t really a laptop/tablet, it is a laptop all-in-one. You see the other configuration that was trending is all-in-ones. These are computer monitor configurations and some of the newer ones are sort of portable generally in the 19” range. But 17” used to be the most common monitor configuration and for a dorm room, small office, or bedroom it still is a decent size for a desktop computer. With a touch screen and a 17” monitor this larger 2-in-1 is ideal for watching TV, playing some video games (it isn’t a true gaming machine but then most all-in-ones aren’t), and generally a decent alternative to a desktop computer. At $749 to start it is in range of both a mid-range notebook and a mid-range all-in-one making it arguably the best priced 2-in-1 in the market as well.
Likely ideal for students who want something with a big enough screen to share and do projects on but still portable enough to take to class. I know a few folks that have 17” notebooks and they swear the size makes them more productive, I’m convinced they mostly like them for movies and TV, but either way the big screen validates that second use far better than the small screen tablet focused products ever have.
Qualcomm released a new Snapdragon processor for small wearables. This is the Snapdragon Wear 2100. This is aimed at the only class of wearables that seems to actually have an audience outside of the Apple Watch to the Cult of the Mac. These smaller products fall into a class of things that really aren’t watches but track your steps and exercise progress, notify your loved ones if you get into trouble, and keep track of your kids and pet. They tend to be tiny, need really decent battery life, and are relatively inexpensive. Oh and you don’t have to get rid of your Rolex to use them. In fact, at least one line attaches to the watch you have to provide this extra functionality (if you are into watches, there really isn’t yet one of the so called “Smartwatches” that looks as good as some of the higher end regular watches). I have my eye on this last category because I’ve been collecting watches for a while and hate not being able to wear one so I can count my steps.
All of these connect to a Smartphone where they get their smarts but, I figure I paid for the damn Smartphone why pay a ton to duplicate anything on a wearable? I’m still convinced we aren’t being as creative as we could be with these things, for instance I was binge watching Babylon 5 this week and they had their wearable attached to the back of the hand rather than on the wrist. That actually looked damn convenient and given the Flip Phone (which is on the rise again) was taken from Star Trek…
This is the latest in what has been a growing list of launched personal robots. The Zenbo is kind of like Amazon Echo with wheels. It can play music, display family photos or videos, and it can interact with users. It has a camera that can keep track of things while you are away. Though I’m thinking a burglar might actually swipe it, “Run Zenbo Run!!” making me wonder how good it will be at security until it gets the stun gun option.
This little robot is pretty affordable at $599, less than you’d likely pay for that new iPad you don’t need, and I do think it will keep kids entertained if that entertainment isn’t having Zenbo roll in front of cars or down stairs (not that children would EVER do either).
Personal Robots are on the list for the next iPod-like break out product, and we are actually getting to the point where price and capability is resulting in some interesting options though I’ll likely wait until models that can outrun children, navigate stairs, bring me a beer, or defend themselves (and me) come out.
Wrapping Up: Changes
Whether it is a new definition for 2-in-1 that actually makes more sense, technology that will enable wearables we are more likely to wear, or a robot that can bring the entertainment to you, we are looking at a whole bunch of changes this year at Computex. That’s good because the tech market is in a bit of a funk at the moment, and looking at products that might dig us out of that is a great place to start. My hope is that, given I’ve never been successful at getting my dogs to fetch beer, the next generation of Zenbo will do that and maybe have a clean-up dog poop feature that would absolutely put that thing on my short list.
Until then I’m more likely to look at a laptop that can be a desktop and a wearable that could be made invisible near term. How about you?
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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