Can newly urban Asia inspire a new wave of laptops? HP thinks so

September 18th, 2019 | by Alfred Siew
Can newly urban Asia inspire a new wave of laptops? HP thinks so
PC
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Asian consumers like convertible laptops, according to HP, which just launched the Elite Dragonfly today. PHOTO: Handout

In America, where it is common to drive to work, a laptop is often dumped in the backseat along with the day’s essentials. It isn’t lugged around, except to meeting rooms in the office.

In many parts of newly urban Asia, however, the long commute on a train or bus brings a different perspective. A laptop that is slightly thinner means it is easier to work on a report while on a shinkansen, or bullet train, in Japan.

A couple of hundred grams lighter and it’s easier on the shoulder for the working masses rushing to work in Singapore or Beijing. More battery on the go means no need to lug a charger along.

These circumstances in Asia have inspired several design decisions in HP’s sub-1kg convertible laptop, the Elite Dragonfly, launched in Tokyo today, according to Vinay Awasthi, the PC maker’s general manager for personal systems in Asia-Pacific and Japan.

Increasingly, the region’s users are setting the direction for future PC designs, instead of simply taking what works in the West, he told Singapore reporters in an interview in Tokyo today.

Of course, a commuter in New York City might have similar preferences to someone, say, in Tokyo or Singapore, but the idea that Asia-Pacific is guiding PC makers in their future designs is not new.

After all, the region will contribute about half of the world’s gross domestic product by 2024, according to the International Monetary Fund. The middle class and professionals in the region will want products that more closely fit their lifestyle.

In May this year, HP launched its high-end Omen X 2S gaming notebook in China, where gaming has become a huge hobby that users are happy to splurge on for a fast PC.

Today, in Tokyo, it is looking East again. Hoping to win over users here, the Elite Dragonfly is a convertible laptop that weighs less than 1kg and flips open to convert to a tablet on the go. It promises more than 16.5 hours of battery life.

Awasthi said another unique characteristic of Asian consumers is their preference for local storage, even though the cloud is popular in cities with good connectivity, such as South Korea.

While the United States has embraced Chromebooks that rely solely on the cloud, Asia still prefers more traditional machines that allows users to save their files on their machines, he added.

He also said consumers in Asia tended to welcome convertible laptops, though the market is quite varied in terms of spending power and work culture.

Traditional clamshell designs are still the most popular for consumers in the region, he noted, but flexible, foldable designs such as the Elite Dragonfly are catching on and will become more mainstream in the years ahead.

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