HP launches Chromebook trio, thin client and ThinGo USB stick for remote work

HP launched three new enterprise Chromebooks and two thin-client products as it aims to ride the remote work wave into the new normal.

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HP launched a series of enterprise Chromebooks that up the design ante as well as a new thin client and USB stick called ThinPro Go that packs a virtual workspace into any PC. The upshot: HP is positioning for the new normal of work that will include a heavy dose of remote workers.

With the move to remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CFOs are indicating that many will stay out of the office. OpenText has already said that it won't reopen half of its offices in favor of remote work. CFOs at various enterprises are thinking along the same lines.

HP sees an opening for virtual desktops and lightweight Chromebooks that give enterprises more control over security and compliance for remote workers. HP said that the average employee is using 22 cloud-based apps to do their jobs.

Andy Rhodes, global head of commercial personal systems at HP, said the move to remote work has accelerated trends that were already in place. "88% of millennials in workforce desired to have more work-life integration pre-crisis," said Rhodes. "Now they're at home."

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Rhodes said HP is trying to strike a balance between the needs of workers and the enterprise as well as various use cases.

As for the Chromebook models, HP launched the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise, HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise and HP Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6. The HP Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6 is designed to be the workhorse at $399. The c1030 Chromebook Enterprise is available in August and the c640 Chromebook Enterprise is out in June.

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All of the Chromebooks have Chrome Enterprise Upgrade for manageably and security. They are also made with recycled aluminum and plastics.

Key items include:

The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise has a 13.5-inch diagonal 3:2 display with 90.1% screen-to-body ratio. Powered by the latest 10th Gen Intel processors, the c1030 has battery life of up to 12 hours with a 360-degree design. Optional LTE is also available.

The c1030 falls under Intel's Project Athena program.

HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise also has the 10th Gen Intel processors. HP claims the c640 is the thinnest 14-inch Chromebook and it has an aluminum fame and backlit keyboard. The laptop also has WiFi 6 and a 180-degree hinge as well as HDMI port.

HP Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6 is designed as a workhorse that is shared among employees. It has a wipeable keyboard for disinfection, USB-C and 13.5 hours of battery life.

For Google, the HP partnership is another way for the company to spread its Chrome OS into the enterprise. Google has lined up the key enterprise PC vendors and is aiming to be an option amid the move to multiple operating systems.

When asked whether there was a remote work bubble that would recede, John Solomon, vice president of Chrome OS at Google, said COVID-19 changes will likely remain. "I strongly believe this is not a bubble and we will see more remote work after that fact," said Solomon. "A large percentage of work is being done on the web and web applications. Whatever productivity suite is used at work---Office, G Suite, whatever--it is increasingly based on the web-based version."

And when work requires legacy applications and virtualization, HP's Chromebook lineup has the power for those sessions, he said.

HP is also trying to follow the demand for virtualized desktop sessions. As workers quickly had to go remote, enterprises relied on software such as Citrix and VMware to deliver applications.

The HP mt22 Mobile Thin Client, available in May starting at $495, is designed for virtual desktop applications with a 180-degree lie-flat hinge and connections to displays and accessories via an HP USB-C dock.

However, HP's ThinPro Go may be more notable for enterprises. Starting at $135, the ThinPro Go is a USB boot device that transforms a personal PC into a thin client for work. The device boots up HP ThinPro OS to access business apps and corporate data.