Apr 01 2020

The Evolution of Enterprise Notebooks

Workers need mobile computers that are easy to use and deliver modern functionality.

Enterprises are adopting a mobile-first approach to technology deployment to keep pace with digital transformation demands and ensure that staff are equipped with technology that seamlessly empowers operations. The design and functionality of the most fundamental tool most workers use — a notebook computer — has been getting attention from manufacturers like Lenovo. In a conversation with BizTech, Dexter R. Howard, Lenovo’s North American notebook product manager, discusses the evolution of enterprise laptops and how Lenovo’s new brand, ThinkBook, is changing the game.

BIZTECH: What are enterprises looking for today when it comes to notebooks?

HOWARD: Four things come to mind. The first is durable and reliable design. The second is services, the third is security and the fourth is that users expect to be happy and productive with their PC.

For durability and reliable design, the latest generation of processors are important along with the form factors offered. You may have some users who want a lightweight and easy to carry device, or power users that want a 15-inch form factor with a number pad and wider screen. 

Services are important because no company wants their employees sitting there twirling their thumbs. They want access to technicians, the ability to call them on the phone or walk them through how to troubleshoot a PC. They also need onsite help from a technician who physically shows up and gives a quick resolution.

When it comes to security and productivity, the integrated fingerprint reader and power button streamlines the user experience and make users feel more secure. With modern standby, the system also “wakes up” almost instantly after being closed or put to sleep.

DISCOVER: Find more on how Lenovo notebooks can power your organization.

BIZTECH: What are some of the design features of the ThinkBook that business users will appreciate?

HOWARD: One of the things we focused on was a narrow bezel design — when you look at the display, this maximizes usable real estate. We’ve also included Dolby sound systems because so many users are using their PC as their phone and entertainment.

Also popular are the ThinkBook hotkeys that are integrated with Skype. By having two keys that answer a call and one that hangs up you don’t have to fumble around with a mouse.

BIZTECH: How have you built security into the device?

HOWARD: ThinkBooks use a trusted platform module. That helps with encryption, certificates and passwords to really protect the system and the user. We’re also using what’s called Wi-Fi Vantage to protect users from unsafe or malicious networks. Another security feature is FIDO — fast identity online. If you’re checking things like PayPal, Google or Dropbox, FIDO gives you safer online authentication when you log in.

We’ve also incorporated the ThinkShutter from ThinkPads into ThinkBooks. Most notebooks have a camera, and some people will add tape or stamps to block it. In the display, we integrated an actual thumbnail shutter over the camera that gives the user control of who sees us and when we want to be seen.

MORE FORM BIZTECH: Read how businesses can adjust to widespread remote work.

BIZTECH: What sets the ThinkBook apart from other notebook options?

HOWARD: One big difference is having those cellphone-type functionalities and features such as modern standby and an integrated fingerprint reader with power button.

Design is also critical. If you’re looking at the ThinkBook 14 and 15, one of the things we put on was a hidden port. This hidden port is like a trapdoor — it lets you hide dongles and other connectors in the system and still have a clean-looking machine. That’s one of those cool “wow, that makes sense” design features.

BIZTECH: What’s next for ThinkBooks?

HOWARD: At CES this year, we introduced the ThinkBook Plus, which is a 13-inch notebook but also has an 11-inch e-ink screen on the outside that gives you notifications of emails, calendar alerts and weather updates when it’s connected to the internet. And it connects with Kindle or Alexa with the lid closed.

If you get an email, open the lid to see and answer that notification. It’s almost like a clamshell 2-in-1 notebook — it lets you take down notes in a meeting since the 11-inch screen is an e-ink screen so you don’t have to have your PC open or bring in a notepad.

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