After a long, long month of laptop releases, Computex 2022 is finally over. In some ways, Computex was not.
The first part of this year was an exciting time to be a laptop reporter. Every company and its mom announced big ideas were on the way. Exotic products abounded, from monitors to phones. The LG Monitor (which powered the 13.3-inch display for the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold) featured a 17-inch foldable OLED display. We’ve seen RGB and OLEDs and an abundance of touches. Chip makers promised architectural innovations and performance gains. We were told these were all coming soon.
At the end of May was Computex, the biggest laptop show of the year. (Okay, it’s been all of May really – since many global attendees couldn’t make it to Taiwan, most companies did their own thing and ditched their releases at any point in time, but that’s another story. I’m still recovering from this month of incessant advertisements Please don’t text me.) This would have been the perfect time to release some of these innovative releases, you know. Or get the release date.
But we didn’t get them at Computex 2022. The show was, in fact, not very exciting. We’ve got a lot of chip pitfalls. We got some higher refresh rate screens. We got the HP Specter x360 with rounded corners. (To be clear, I am personally very excited about the rounded corners, but I may be the only person on the planet in this boat.)
Don’t get me wrong: the incremental upgrades, for interior specs and exterior items, are important. They will make a difference in people’s lives. Companies don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every laptop they release. But it’s still worth noting that a number of devices that seem really poised to expand or redefine their categories aren’t there yet (or if they are, I can’t find them for sale).
Here are some of the highly anticipated products announced earlier this year that haven’t made it to my desk yet:
- Zenbook 17 Fold OLED from Asus, originally announced at CES for Q2 2022. There are only 25 days left from Q2 as of this writing, and we don’t have a confirmed price yet. This is one of the rumored 17-inch foldable laptops we’ve been expecting this year — Samsung also showed one at CES, and HP is rumored to have one in the works. We couldn’t see either of them in Computex.
- The XPS 13 2-in-1 is one of the hottest models in the convertible space. Well, this product hasn’t actually been announced yet, but it’s been leaked — and according to the leaks, Dell is likely to swap this product away from the traditional 2-in-1 form factor and into a device that looks like the Surface Pro. It was not mentioned in May.
- HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook Non-Enterprise Edition, the only device that edge The staff was most excited about this year. It’s set to be the first Chromebook to include a touch trackpad and Intel vPro, among other cool new features. It was supposed to ship in April when it was announced at CES. In early May, we got an update – It’s Coming Now This Summer, but it’s not currently available.
- Speaking of HP, the exciting Dragonfly G3 too, which finally brings a 3:2 screen to the high-end business line and which we saw a prototype in January, was originally expected in March. Looking at HP’s website, it looks like it won’t be shipping until July.
- Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3, 2022 Edition which I was personally excited about. It is a 17 inch dual screen device. While dual-screen devices that put the keyboard in front of the surface can still be very good, their mode doesn’t work for everyone. The ThinkBook Plus puts the screen to the side, keeping the keyboard in its usual position (albeit slightly further to the left) and keeping the touchpad at a usable size, an arrangement that could be more practical for many people. It was really nice to use in Lenovo’s CES demo area, and could be a useful visualization of the dual screen form factor. It was supposed to ship in May, but “soon” according to the Lenovo website.
- There’s no sign yet of the ThinkPad Z series, a funky new ThinkPad line targeting Generation Z, and featuring the touchpad and vegan leather cover, it’s likely a new vision for anyone who could take advantage of a business laptop. This was supposed to ship in May, but there have been no dice yet. (As of this writing, the site still says “Spring 2022”.
RDNA 3, AMD’s next generation of Radeon GPUs rumored to bring punker performance improvements. The updates AMD showed off were still a big announcement, but the gains reported in a single thread were disappointing in comparison.
Not all news is bad. Some of the most anticipated hardware of 2022 has been released on schedule, including a number of gaming-side products like Asus’s ROG Flow Z13. And of course companies veer off plans all the time. But I’ve checked my impression with Stephen Kleinhans, vice president of Gartner Research, and it seems to be true: Across the board, we’re seeing delays in PC shipments, which in turn affect releases. It’s not a unique problem in the PC space, of course — industries across the board, including the automotive field, are off.
Kleynhans believes that these delays are, unsurprisingly, “mostly supply chain issues,” much of which is related to the current COVID situation in China, which has resulted in major tech hubs shutting down. Kleynhans told me that “until China really opens up again, which seems to be what we’re seeing now, and can catch up with the backlog that’s been created, we’ll continue to see the turmoil in addition to the turmoil that they’ve already been there.” He believes PC availability could be disrupted “at least as summer approaches and the end of the year approaches”.
Not only are companies having trouble getting current-generation units into their own hands, Kleynhans says – it’s also about fulfilling last-generation orders. “If you have a customer who placed an order for 1,000 machines three or four months ago, and they haven’t received it yet, you don’t want to release a model this year while those orders are pending,” Kleynhans told me. We’re definitely seeing delays on current models, too — many of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros are showing shipping dates in late July or later. (Apple is rumored to have a new MacBook Air in the pipeline, and it will be interesting to see if the company is able to stick to its usual near-term availability schedule.)
When it comes to supply chain delays, the PC market is hardly the hardest hit (or most important). The world would continue to transform if 17-inch foldable computers took longer than expected to ship. And laptop delays aren’t the most significant or impactful consequence of this pandemic.
However, this situation should serve as a reminder of a fact that, frankly, is always worth remembering: the PC space has many moving parts. Several things had to be done correctly to get the laptop you’re writing on now, and the laptop I’m writing on now (it’s the Zephyrus G14, if you’re curious) to our doorsteps. It’s fun living in a world full of touch-ups, foldable gadgets, and twice the performance gains in the early part of the year. But the real world is more complex and boring, and even the coolest innovations require the compatibility of all kinds of logistics stars.