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​At CES 2018, PC makers targeting on-the-go professionals with thin, Alexa, LTE

Two-in-one devices dominate at CES 2018 as laptops go thin and hop on the Amazon Alexa bandwagon.

CES 2018

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PCs and laptops have taken a back-seat at CES in recent years and this year isn't much different. Nevertheless, there are a few themes worth noting and some laptops that may be able to garner some interest from business folks.

Among the key themes:

  • Alexa is being built into PCs and that raises some questions about Cortana's positioning. How many digital assistants do we need on a device? Microsoft said Cortana has traction.
  • Thin is in. Laptop vendors were trying to leapfrog each other with claims of being thinner than rivals.
  • Devices are increasingly being built for LTE and wireless connectivity on the go.

Here's a roundup of the laptops at CES 2018 where tablets are out, convertibles are in.

Acer

Acer launched the Swift 7, billed as the world's thinnest laptop, as it looks to land business professionals with a sleek PC with LTE as well as Wi-Fi.

At CES 2018, Acer outlined the Swift 7, a premium laptop with Intel's Core i7 processor, 4G LTE and a frame that's 8.98 mm.

The Swift 7, which will run $1,699 in North America starting in March, follows a well-worn playbook for PC makers. Hewlett Packard has been reinvigorated by staking out a premium position. Dell has also fared well. Now most laptops are playing the premium market.

Acer's Swift 7 runs on Windows 10 and highlights how PC makers are looking to LTE for an always-connected approach. Acer Swift 7 includes a Nano SIM slot as well as eSIM technology. The laptop also includes a mobile plans application to add carriers and purchase data globally.

The company was among the first at CES 2018 to note that Amazon's Alexa would be added to its lineup. Acer's Aspire, Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks, as well as Aspire all-in-one PCs will get Alexa in the first quarter.

Asus

Asus announced its ZenBook Flip 14, which will start at $899. The device has the latest Intel processors and is 13.9mm thick. The 2-in-1 device features a bevy of ports as well as a full-size backlit keyboard. Asus also outlined the ZenBook 13 as well as the Asus X507, a 13-inch laptop.

Like Acer, Asus was on the Alexa bandwagon and said select Zenbook and Vivobook laptops will support the Amazon assistant in the first half.

Dell

Dell ahead of CES 2018 outlined its XPS 13 notebook starting at $999.99 with immediate availability. The update is smaller and thinner than the current XPS 13.

The XPS 13 runs Microsoft Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 and a host of ports.

Dell also announced the XPS 15.

dell-xps-15-2018.jpg

The new Dell XPS 15

(Image: Dell)


HP

HP launched its Qualcomm-based Envy X2 2-in-1 as well as an Intel-based Envy X2 version. HP also outlined its HP Spectre x360 15, a convertible PC aimed at creative pros. In addition, HP's Pavilion Wave desktop added Amazon's Alexa to its Windows 10 experience.

What made HP's CES 2018 laptops notable is that it looks like the company will start having Qualcomm powered versions of its Intel laptops going forward.

Lenovo

Following that Alexa to the PC theme, Lenovo outlined its ThinkPad X1 Carbon and ThinkPad X1 Yoga. The lineup was updated with new far-field microphones to work with Alexa as well as ThinkShutter Camera Privacy to better secure Webcams.

For business use, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon adds support for global LTE connectivity, better battery life and Dolby Vision.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon will start at $1,709 and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga will start at $1,889. Both will be available in January.

Windows 10 fleet: Lenovo's new ThinkPads get 8th gen Intel chips, webcam shutters

Samsung

Samsung is pitching working professionals with the launch of its Notebook 7 Spin convertible, the Notebook 9 and Notebook 9 Pen.

Of the trio, the Notebook 9 Pen is a 2-in-1 convertible that's interesting since its aimed to be a large screen outlet for Samsung's S Pen. The Notebook 9 weighs in at 2.84 pounds and is designed to cater to students and business travelers. The Notebook 7 Spin is pitched as the "best of basics" 2-in-1 convertible aimed to be equipped for multiple use cases.

Not surprisingly, Samsung, which has its own Bixby assistant, wasn't adding Alexa to its laptops.