Qualcomm HP And Rethinking the Laptop

This week I’m at Qualcomm’s annual analyst event in Hawaii and, this year, Qualcomm has significantly upped their game across most all the platforms (except wearables for some reason). Phone cameras that are significantly better than DSLRs, sound that will rival professional quality sound systems, massive jumps in performance particularly with gaming, and modem improvements that promise connectivity and bandwidth well beyond anything provided today. 

I could talk about the gaming system they are developing with Razer, Smartphones that will make iPhones look like last decades, or some extended reality advancements that will eventually make us feel like we are living in the Matrix (Metaverse). 

But I’m writing this on a Snapdragon HP laptop that has become my favorite this year, the HP Elite Folio and it coupled with this amazing jump in capability promises a revolution in laptops next year. One that has been a long time coming.

It’s Time for A Laptop Revolution

Laptops today, including most using both AMD and Qualcomm technology are still largely based on an aging Intel form factor. When they initially came to market first in the mid-90s they had a clamshell design, were square, and needed to have a big battery to get lousy battery life. A lot of effort had to go into cooling the processors which, at the time, were basically repurposed desktop parts that had been throttled down leaving us with something we thought was amazing at the time, a sub-7-pound laptop, because what we’d had before was far less portable often exceeding 20 lbs. and having no battery at all. 

And it’s been nearly 30 years and while battery life and performance have improved massively, we still largely have the same square form factor often with a table capability called 2-in-one that we almost never use. This HP Elite Folio has been like a breath of fresh air this year because not only can I leave the small power brick at my office (it had days of battery life), but it has built-in 5G modem, so I don’t have to worry about rogue access points or crappy Wi-Fi (the Wi-Fi at this hotel kid of sucks) it also still has decent performance and some unique features that differentiate it from other products. 

Those features include a readily accessible docked pen (I’m not an artist but I often have to sign digital documents on the road, and I also regularly lose my digital pens), a cantilevered screen which is amazing for watching videos on a plane, and a tablet mode that is usable. I can read eBooks with this thing comfortably. It is covered in real feeling eco-leather (no animal was harmed building the laptop) that makes it extremely comfortable to carry so I haven’t had to carry my backpack to meetings. 

Assuming HP brings one of these out with the next generation of Qualcomm technology it will get even better. 

Coming Advancements

Advancements that Qualcomm was showcasing at the event include massively improved sound capabilities, vastly improved camera capabilities, the potential for tighter integration with Qualcomm smartphones (I use the Microsoft tool currently), and improvements in AI performance that potentially will make some of the latest Microsoft Office capabilities even more capable. 

Microsoft was at the event, and it is clear both companies are working closely together on the next iteration of this class of products. I’m already seeing significant productivity advantages in editing speed and predictive typing from the last Microsoft Office update as I write this piece. 

But I see this laptop as a step towards a future laptop redesign that more strongly embraces Qualcomm’s fanless processor technology, GPU improvements, and modem advancements allowing for even more creativity in the hardware. And given, thanks to Omicron, we are going to remain remote for the foreseeable future, these enhancements can’t come soon enough.

Wrapping Up:

Laptop designs have been relatively static for the last 3 decades and it is time for a change. HP this year and Qualcomm at their event in Hawaii showcase the potential for a laptop revolution. One that could change even more dramatically what we can do when portable, that will include things like wearable displays, and even Smartphones that can be expanded into laptops as well as the next generation of this amazing HP Elite Folio I’ve come to love over the last several months. We are at the front end of a revolution, and I can hardly wait!