HP stresses Working From Home capability with new Chromebook releases

HP announces three new Chromebooks, one aimed at each of three distinct user types.

HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise in tent mode

HP has expanded its portfolio of devices targeting the remote user market, with three new business class enterprise Chromebooks, as well as a mobile thin client. All are targeted at what HP sees as the new normal of the pandemic market and after, where people ‘work from home’ on a more permanent basis rather than ‘work at home’ more occasionally. Each of the three new Chromebooks is designed for a specific user type, with specific characteristics to match.

While HP has focused on work-life integration previously with their Insight to Innovation program, they have adjusted their design principles with these new devices to address what they see as fundamentally new work-life paradigms created by the pandemic.

“What has radically changed is what people are doing across those boundaries now given COVID-19,” said Andy Rhodes, Global Head, HP Commercial Systems, in a virtual webcast announcing the products.

Rhodes cited some new data pertaining to this trend. 88% of millennials desired work-life integration before the pandemic. 60% say they use personal PCs right now to work at home. In addition, 72% of office employees are now working from home. Another new trend is that 82% of virtual collaborators rely on heavy multi-tasking – using Zoom plus multiple apps.

“People who aren’t equipped right lose out on the multitasking,” Rhodes said. He noted that 51% of end users feel they are not set up adequately.

Rhodes emphasized how the Working From Home market has become a major trend, which Chromebooks are well suited to address.

“Working at home is very different than working from home,” he said. “Working at home is occasional. Working from home is more permanent. There is also massive competition for scarce resources in the house.”

At the same time, he noted that Chrome is transforming the workplace.

“Chrome Enterprise has grown 67.7% year over year,” Rhodes said. “Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85% of apps will be accessible through a browser, which is what led to that growth

“Everyone is faced with the same situation of continuing mission-critical apps, but doing it with more than 90% of employees at home,” said John Solomon, VP, Chrome OS, at Google. “This has resulted in a surge of deployment of Chromebooks. They allow rapid deployment at scale with very few resources. It’s low to zero touch, and you can get 50,000-60,000 Chromebooks deployed in a matter of weeks.”

Solomon addressed the question of whether the work from home situation created by the pandemic is just a bubble, and thus ill-suited for crafting long-term plans.

“It’s an important question,” he said. “We fundamentally believe it’s not a bubble. There were some underlying trends driving adoption of this pre-COVID, including a steady growth of remote work. What happened with COVID was a shock to the system. We expect distributed work and areas like telemedicine to be more pervasive post-COVID.”

Alex Thatcher, Director of Chrome Product Management, HP Commercial Systems, got to introduce the new devices, and emphasized how all three are designed for different user types.

“If you are going to build a purpose-built Chromebook, there’s not one classic Chromebook user,” he said. “We see three distinct users with three types of needs, and we are announcing one built for each.” They are the HP Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6, designed for the front line worker, the HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise, for knowledge workers, and the HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise, designed for cloud natives.

HP Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6

“Front line heroes are ones who interact directly through customers – typically in call centers, and include medical response personnel,” Thatcher said. “They have unique needs for manageable secure devices, and rugged devices. They need larger screens. They have been using 11 inch, but with modern Web apps, 14 inch is more productive. They need Wi-Fi, and they need to be able to use as shared devices because they share among each other from shift to shift, and they share with customers.”

The HP Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6, the 6th generation of the device, has been completely redesigned to meet these needs.

“It has a long battery life [up to 13.5 hours] a large screen, a grippable exterior, and is reinforced all around,” Thatcher said. “It also has a wipeable keyboard for cleaning with regular household wipes.” An HP Privacy Camera has been added for collaboration. All three new devices have HP Extended Range Wireless LAN, which provides up to 30% increased range.

The Chromebook Enterprise 14 G6 is available now, at USD $399.

The HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise is the first Pro series Chromebook, and is built for knowledge workers.

“It’s a modern-day workhouse device, an elevated Chromebook for office/home navigators, who have a myriad of apps,” Thatcher said. He noted that more use is being made of these apps today. In the last 30 days, planned virtual meetings were up 45%, and ad hoc virtual meetings were up 38%.

HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise

The HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise is the world’s thinnest 14” business chromebook, is light, checking in at 3.3 lbs, and has a flat hinge to allow a 180 degree lie-flat form factor. It is built to MIL-STD testing standard, and a backlit keyboard that resists spills up to 350 ml of water. It has up to 12 hours of battery life. Like the other models, it has HP Fast Charge, which recharges the battery to 90% in 90 minutes.  It also has the Privacy Camera, the HP Extended Range Wireless LAN, and an optional fingerprint reader. Processors range from Pentium up to i7, and memory goes up to 16 GB.

The HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise will be available in June, and pricing is not yet set.

The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise is for the third class of user – cloud natives who live in the cloud.

“They use 22 different Web apps, and everything is real-time,” Thatcher said.

This model is also a first, the first 1000 series Chromebook, and is based on Intel’s Project Athena innovation program.

“Cloud natives work anywhere and everywhere, and this comes with an option of up to a 1000 NIT screen that is usable outside,” Thatcher noted. “It’s also the first Chromebook with an integrated privacy screen.”

The screen itself is an edge-to-edge 13.5” diagonal 3:2 display with  90.1% screen-to-body ratio, the highest ever on a Chromebook.

“The Active Pen has 20 days life, and is then USB-C chargeable,” Thatcher indicated. “These users think the pen is so important, especially the creatives. It attached magnetically to the body.”

Up to 75% of the aluminum in the lid is recycled aluminum, and up to 50% of the keyboard and speaker is made from ocean bound plastics from Haiti. It’s also the first Chromebook to receive an EPEAT Gold rating in twenty countries.

The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise has up to 12 hours of battery life, the  HP Extended Range Wireless LAN, a privacy switch on the side since there was no room for a privacy shutter up top, and a 360 degree design to let it be used in tablet or tent mode. It has the same processor range up to i7 and up to 256G of SSD storage.

The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise will be available in August and pricing has not yet been set.

Thatcher described the HP mt22 Mobile Thin Client as the re-invention of the thin client.

HP mt22 Mobile Thin Client

“It looks like a notebook, and is the world’s most durable mobile thin client,” he said. It also has a 180 degree lie-flat hinge, up to 13 hours of battery and Fast Charge capability, self healing BIOS and the HP Privacy Camera. The OS choice is  between Windows 10 IoT Enterprise or HP ThinPro OS. It will be available in May, with pricing starting at $USD 495.

Finally, Thatcher introduced the HP ThinPro Go, which lets employees use a USB to boot up securely in an HP ThinPro OS environment.

“HP ThinPro Go is a tool to take legacy assets and refresh them into powerful thin clients,” he said. “The USB stick makes VDI easy for admin and users. Just boot up and it launches, with no software to install, and no security risk. Since 60% of users now use their own personal PCs, this is a fast, rapid way to make them secure devices.”

HP ThinPro Go will be available in May starting at $USD 135.