Business Hardware at CES 2012 – A Look Back

Business Hardware at CES 2012 – A Look Back

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It seems like a lifetime ago, but just a month ago I was in Las Vegas to meet with some of our OEM partners at CES. While I spent most of the time shuttling between meetings it was great to get a few minutes to walk the show floor to see all the latest things that could be plugged in. The Consumer Electronics Show may not be the most obvious place to think of for the latest in business hardware, but at the end of the day we’re all consumers. And in today’s world of flexible workstyles, we are leveraging the latest of consumer hardware to stay productive for work while extending it into our personal lives. My takeaways from CES are that Ultrabooks and big screens are in vogue for business just as much as they are for the home.

Thin and light, especially the Ultrabooks by far captured the pre-show buzz. After all, who wouldn’t want a thin, light, fast notebook PC with a long battery life? For business that’s not altogether different. Of course there are some important things to look for that make an Ultrabook great for business:

  • Onsite service and support options
  • Hardware features you might use regularly such as a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip for encryption support and required ports (HDMI / VGA, Ethernet, cable lock, etc.)

I took a look at two thin and light PCs that could easily find their place either in a traveling executive’s bag, a corporate desk or at home.

First up is a PC that made a big splash at CES, the Dell XPS 13. The XPS 13 has the style for the most sophisticated environment, but can be provisioned with much of Dell’s corporate service and support options. Users are excited about a machined aluminum body, backlit keyboard and sub 3lb package, and IT is happy that Dell can do the imaging. I’m looking forward to doing a hands-on look at this PC when it begins shipping.

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Another favorite is the second generation Samsung Series 9. A number of customers and colleagues carry the (original) Samsung Series 9 each day. Some readers might remember when I cut through a cucumber using the duralumin shell of a Series 9. Both the original and to-be-released Series 9 models are thin, light, fast machines with durability, style and a business feature set. In the next generation version Samsung has managed to make the laptop 37% thinner and 0.4 pounds lighter than the original. It is available in two sizes – 13.3- or 15-inch, with the 15-inch being the world’s thinnest and most compact premium notebook of its size. Samsung also added a 1600x900 high resolution screens that goes beyond the 1366x768 resolution of the original.

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Beyond thin and light, big screens were most certainly in vogue at CES. The LG EM9600 was a sight to see and not-see when checking out the profile of the 4mm slim TV. My eyes also were on Sharp’s 80” AQUOS touchpanel . This 80” multi-touch screen will soon be filling boardrooms to act as a video conferencing screen, whiteboard and possibly a corporate screening room during some downtime. Touch on this size and scale is going to open up some new possibilities. I also have to think that when combined with Kinect for Windows we could see some really unique applications available.

There were a number of smaller touchscreens at CES, too, many supporting 10 distinct points of touch. The next generation of all-in-one PCs will make for great individual workstations as well as small electronic whiteboards for the classroom or small meeting rooms. Sony showcased a yet-to-be-released VAIO L upgrade at their booth that supports 10 points of touch.

CES 2012 showed a lot of the new tools available for us in the workplace. In addition to delivering a solid computing experience, there’s value to business PCs that keep people working in their preferred workstyle. I only highlighted a few devices in the PC world at CES in this post. You can check out a few more on the Microsoft CES site. Stay tuned for my next post when I go hands-on with another business-focused Ultrabook, the Toshiba Portégé Z830.

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  • One of my personal favorites, despite me owning a 2005 Acer Model and finding it currently despicable, was the Acer Aspire S5, with the retractable I/O port in the back. I thought that ultrabook was sexy, and sleek, since you can hide the junk in the trunk when you're not using it!