In-Depth

CES 2019: Windows PCs Evolve for Modern Users

Microsoft's PC partners are increasingly focused on polishing existing features to target freelancers, remote workers and creatives.

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show just wrapped up in Las Vegas, where Microsoft's biggest OEM partners showcased their most interesting upcoming releases.

While there weren't many category-breaking offerings on display this year, manufacturers instead placed a much sharper focus on polishing existing features and technologies to better meet the needs of modern users -- especially freelancers, remote workers and media creators. Improvements to portability, security and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities were some of the most-touted highlights of this year's standouts.


Lenovo Yoga A940

Lenovo is taking direct aim at Microsoft's Surface Studio PC with its new Yoga A940. Like the Surface Studio, the Yoga A940's standout feature is its outsized, canvas-like display, which can tilt downward to a nearly flat angle -- perfect for artists, designers and other creative professionals working with a digital pen. The "Precision Dial," a knob-like accessory that can be be placed on either side of the Yoga A940's screen, lets users make minute adjustments to their work with one hand while simultaneously using a pen in the other. The body of the Yoga A940 is uniquely kitted-out with a slot for users to park their keyboards, as well as a built-in mousepad, charging dock and pen holder. Its AI features include motion-sensing technology that powers down the computer when the user moves away, and a facial-recognition camera to enable password-free log-ins.

  • Price: Starts at $2,349.99
  • Availability: April
  • More Info: Lenovo


Asus StudioBook S

Asus used CES to debut the brand-new StudioBook S device, its own bid to capture a part of the creative professional market -- everyone from architects to animators -- as well as programmers. It's a heavier device, at just under 5 lbs, but boasts a 17-inch display (giving it an 84 percent screen-to-body ratio), powerful processor options to support graphics-intensive workloads, and a "cooling fin" feature to keep the device from heating up even at peak use. Asus added some unique specifications to the display to appeal to creative workers, including a much wider color spectrum, true-to-life color accuracy and a 180-degree hinge that allows the screen to lay flat.

  • Price: TBA
  • Availability: TBA
  • More Info: Asus


Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1

Dell broke some new ground with its Latitude lineup at CES this year. The PC manufacturer is touting the Latitude 7400 as the market's smallest 2-in-1 PC in the 14-inch category, as well as the first device in the venerable Latitude line built with "ocean-bound plastics." A single charge can fuel its battery for as much as 24 hours, according to Dell. But its most innovative feature is a proximity-sensing technology that lets the device emerge from sleep mode when the user is nearby, and then -- using Windows Hello -- automatically perform a facial recognition scan to log the user in. Conversely, the device can sense when a user moves away and automatically shut itself off to protect session privacy.

  • Price: Starts at $1,599
  • Availability: March
  • More Info: Dell


Lenovo Yoga S940

AI is the operative term when it comes to Lenovo's new Yoga S940 laptop, which the PC maker is aiming at remote and so-called "gig" workers. For those who often participate in meetings from airports or shared workspaces, for example, the Yoga S940's AI features include the ability to muffle background noises (for audio calls) and "blur out" background objects (for videoconferences). If the user moves away from the device, the Yoga S940 senses their lack of proximity and automatically turns off the display to protect their privacy. It can even sense when another set of eyes is peeping over the user's shoulder, according to Lenovo. It also has "attention-sensing AI technology" that lets a user move an open application from the Yoga S940's screen to another connected monitor just by tracking their eye movements.

  • Price: Starts at $1,499.99
  • Availability: May
  • More Info: Lenovo


Acer Swift 7

A sleekly designed laptop from Acer, the new Swift 7 is aimed at power users on the go. The body is "significantly smaller" than previous generations, according to Acer, coming in at under 1 kg and with a thickness of less than 1 cm. The case is made with "magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys," which means it can withstand rougher handling without adding weight. Thanks to a new bezel design, the 14-inch screen covers nearly the entire width and depth of the laptop (the device boasts a "92 percent screen-to-body ratio," Acer said). Users can expect to be able to use the device for up to 10 hours without charging. For those who work in video production, a key feature is a push-to-open camera with a 55-degree view and support for HDR.

  • Price: Starts at $1,699
  • Availability: May in North America, April in EMEA and China
  • More Info: Acer


Asus ZenBook S13

Asus' latest entry in the ultraportable category, the ZenBook S13 sports a 13.9-inch display wrapped in a 2.5 mm bezel, giving it an impressive 97 percent screen-to-body ratio while still being more compact than earlier versions. It also has a generous keyboard that spans nearly the full width of the screen. The device weighs just 1.1 kg and is 12.9 mm at its thickest, though it still has room for two USB C ports, one USB A port and a MicroSD slot.

  • Price: TBA
  • Availability: TBA
  • More Info: Asus


HP EliteDisplay E243p Sure View Monitor

HP devoted a lot of real estate to its updated PC displays in its CES exhibit this year. One standout is the EliteDisplay E243p Sure View Monitor, a 23.8-inch display that comes with built-in privacy safeguards. The display is ideal for open-plan offices, according to HP, because its privacy screen defends against "visual hacking" from passersby without the need for additional accessories. The display provides 1920x1080 FHD resolution and a wide range of adjustability options.

  • Price: $379.99
  • Availability: February
  • More Info: HP


Dell XPS 13

The latest version of Dell's popular XPS 13 corrects an oft-repeated criticism of earlier versions, in which the camera was placed below the screen instead of above it. The reason for that unusual placement was the lack of real estate above the 13-inch Infinity Edge display; the camera was simply too big to fit in the bezel. The new XPS 13 finally places the camera in the traditional spot, centered above the display, using what Dell calls "quite possibly the smallest HD webcam ever built." The company re-engineered the various camera components -- from the wiring to the lens to the sensors -- to reduce its size from 7 mm to 2.25 mm without sacrificing picture or video quality.

  • Price: Starts at $899.99
  • Availability: Now available
  • More Info: Dell


Samsung Notebook Flash

In a departure from many of the svelte and futuristic-looking devices unveiled at CES, the Notebook Flash from Samsung looks like a throwback. It sports an old-fashioned typewriter-style keyboard, a "textile-patterned chassis" and a 13.3-inch display. Its performance specs and features are also fairly modest, from the nine-hour battery life to the non-HD camera, though it does come with Gigabit Wi-Fi and supports fingerprint log-ins. The sub-$400 price tag, however, is a big plus, especially for those whose main computing tasks revolve around browsing and streaming from the Internet.

  • Price: Starts at $349.99
  • Availability: Jan. 15
  • More Info: Samsung

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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