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, it’s the Computex that wasn’t.

The beginning of this year was an exciting time to be a laptop reporter. Each company and its mother announced that big ideas were on the way. There were many crazy products, of monitors until Phones† LG Display (which provided the 13.3-inch panel for) Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold) showed off a 17-inch foldable OLED screen. We saw RGB, OLEDs and haptics galore. Chipmakers promised architectural innovations and performance improvements. We were told these were all coming soon.

At the end of May was Computex, the largest laptop-specific fair of the year. (Well, it really was very May – since many international visitors couldn’t reach Taiwan, most companies just did their own thing and dumped their releases whenever they wanted, but that’s another story. I’m still reeling from this one month of non-stop announcements, please don’t text me.) Now would have been the perfect time to release some of these innovative releases. Or request a release date.

But we didn’t get them on Computex 2022. In fact, the show was aggressively unexciting. We’ve had a lot of chip bumps. We have a number of screens with a higher refresh rate. We have a HP Specter x360 with rounded corners. (Just to be clear, I’m personally very excited about the rounder corners, but I may be the only person on Earth in this boat.)

Don’t get me wrong: incremental upgrades, both to internal specs and to external elements, are important. They will make a difference in people’s lives. Companies don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every laptop they release. But it’s still worth noting that some of the devices that seem really ready to expand or redefine their categories aren’t there yet (or if they are, I can’t find them for sale ).

Here’s 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 made it to my desk:

  • Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, originally announced at CES for Q2 of 2022† At the time of writing, there are 25 days left of Q2, and we don’t even have a confirmed price yet† This is one of the many foldable 17-inch laptop rumors we’ve been expecting this year – Samsung too showed one at CESand HP is Rumor has it that one is in the works† We haven’t seen it at Computex either.
  • The XPS 13 2-in-1, one of the most important models in the convertible space. Okay, so this one hasn’t actually been announced yet, but it’s leaked — and according to the leaksDell is likely to switch this product from the traditional 2-in-1 form factor and in a Surface Pro-esque device. Nothing will be said about this in May.
  • The non-business version of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, the only device that roadside employees were most excited about this year. It’s poised to be the first Chromebook with a haptic trackpad and Intel vPro, among other impressive new features. This was supposed to ship in April when it was announced at CES† At the beginning of May we got an update – it’s coming “this summer”but Currently not in stock
  • Speaking of HP, the equally exciting Dragonfly G3, which is finally bringing the 3:2 display to the high-end business line and of which we have a January prototypeused to be originally expected in March† Looking at HP’s website, looks like it wont ship until july now
  • Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus Gen 3, the 2022 release I’m personally most excited about. It is a 17-inch device with two screens. While dual screen devices that place the keyboard in the front of the deck can still be pretty good, their positioning doesn’t work for everyone. The ThinkBook Plus places the screen to the side, keeping the keyboard in its usual position (albeit a little far to the left) and keeping the touchpad a usable size, an arrangement that could be more practical for many people. It was legitimately very cool to use in Lenovo’s CES demo area, and could potentially be a useful representation of the dual-screen form factor. This was supposed to ship in Maybut still coming “soon” according to Lenovo’s website
  • There is also no sign of the ThinkPad Z Series, a funky new ThinkPad line aimed at Gen Z, including a haptic touchpad and vegan leather cover, may be a new vision for those who can benefit from a business laptop. This was would ship in maybut no dice so far† (At the time of writing, the website still reads “Coming Spring 2022”.
  • RDNA 3AMD’s Next Generation Radeon GPUs Reportedly Bringing crazy performance improvements† The innovations AMD showed off were still a big announcement, but the single-thread gains mentioned were disappointing in comparison.

It’s not all bad news. Some of the most anticipated devices of 2022 have been released on schedule, including a number of gaming products such as The ROG Flow Z13 from Asus† And of course companies constantly deviate from the plans. But I checked my impressions with Gartner Research vice president Stephen Kleynhans, and it seems to be true: Across the board, we’re seeing delays in PC shipments, which in turn impact releases. It’s not a unique problem for the PC space, of course – industries across the board, including the auto industry, are being held up.

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

Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

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

According to Kleynhans, companies are not only struggling to get their hands on the current generation of units, it also has to do with the execution of orders from the last generation. “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 pending,” Kleynhans told me. † We’re definitely seeing delays on current models, too — many of Apple’s most recent MacBook Pros show late July or later shipping dates. (apple is) heavy rumor to have a new MacBook Air in the pipeline, and it will be interesting to see if the company is able to stick to its usual short-term availability timeline.)

When it comes to supply chain delays, the PC market is not the hardest hit (or most important) industry. The world will keep turning if 17-inch foldable PCs take longer than expected. And laptop slowdowns are hardly the most significant or impactful consequence of this pandemic.

Still, this situation should serve as a reminder of a fact that, frankly, is always worth remembering: The PC room 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 Zephyrus G14, if you’re curious) on our doorstep. It’s nice to live in a world full of haptics, foldable devices and 2X performance gains at the beginning of the year. But the real world is more complicated and boring, and even the coolest innovations require all sorts of logistics stars to align.

#waiting #big #year #laptop

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