We're still waiting for the laptop's big year

We’re still waiting for the laptop’s big year

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

The first part of this year was an exciting time to be a laptop reporter. Each company and its mother announced that great ideas were on the way. Crazy products abounded, from monitors to phones. LG Display (which supplied the 13.3-inch panel for Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold) showed one 17-inch folding OLED screen. We saw RGB, OLED and haptics in abundance. Chipmakers promised architectural innovations and performance gains. We were told that all of these would come soon.

At the end of May was Computex, the year’s largest laptop-specific show. (Well, it really was the whole of May – because many global participants could not get to Taiwan, most companies just did their own thing and dumped their releases at any time, but that’s a different story. I’m still recovering from this month of non-stop announcements, please do not text me.) This would have been the perfect time for some of these innovative releases to, you know, be released. Or get a release date.

But we did not get them at Computex 2022. The show was actually aggressively unexciting. We got a hell of a lot of chip bumps. We have some screens with a higher refresh rate. We got one HP Specter x360 with rounder corners. (To be clear, I’m personally very excited about the rounder corners, but I may be the only person on the planet in this boat.)

Do not get me wrong: Incremental upgrades, both of internal specifications and external elements, are important. They will make a difference in people’s lives. Businesses do not have to reinvent the wheel with every single laptop they release. But it’s still worth noting that a number of devices that really seem ready to expand or redefine their categories are not here yet (or if they are, I can not find them for sale).

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 on a wooden table with a bookshelf in the background, open, slightly angled to the left.  The screen displays The Verge website.

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

The following are some long-awaited products that were announced earlier this year that have not yet landed on my desktop:

It’s not just bad news. Some of the most anticipated units in 2022 have been released according to schedule, including a number of products on the gaming side that Asus ROG Flow Z13. And of course, companies deviate from the plans all the time. But I checked my impression with Gartner Research’s vice president Stephen Kleynhans, and it seems to be true: Overall, we see delays in PC deliveries, which in turn affects releases. Of course, this is not a problem that is unique to the PC space – industries across the board, including the automotive area, are maintained.

The Lenovo ThinkBook plus Gen 3 keyboard as 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, “most problems with the supply chain”, and much of it has to do with the current COVID situation in China, which has led to locks in important technical hubs. Kleynhans told me that “until China really reopens, which seems to be what we are seeing now, and it can catch up with the backlog that has been created, we will continue to see disruptions beyond the disruptions that were already there.” that PC availability can be disrupted “at least towards the summer and towards the end of the year”.

It’s not only that companies have problems getting their current generation units into their hands, in Kleynhan’s view – it also has to do with fulfilling the last generation’s orders. “If you have a customer who placed an order for 1,000 machines three or four months ago, and they still have not received them, you do not want to release this year’s model while those orders are outstanding,” Kleynhans told me. We’re really seeing delays on current models too – many of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros show delivery dates in late July or later. (Apple is strongly rumored to have a new MacBook Air in the pipeline, and it will be interesting to see if the company can stick to its normal availability in the short term.)

When it comes to delays in the supply chain, the PC market is hardly the worst affected (or most important) industry. The world will continue to turn around if 17-inch folding computers take longer than expected to deliver. And latency for laptops is hardly the most important or most influential 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. Many things have to go right to deliver the laptop you are typing on right now, and the laptop I am typing on right now (it is a Zephyrus G14, if you are curious) to our thresholds. It’s fun to live in a world full of haptics, collapsible 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 kinds of logistical stars to adapt.

#waiting #laptops #big #year

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