We caught up with Ed Boyd, SVP for Dell’s Experience Design Group, in the aftermath of this year’s CES in Las Vegas to talk about what’s next for the XPS line, how 5G will change the mobile PC equation and whether foldables or dual-screened PCs are the next big thing.
Dell introduced their first 5G-enabled Latitude PC at this year’s CES. I asked Boyd how he expects the next-generation connectivity to change the experience of consumers and professional users.
“I think it’s going to change things in a number of ways.”
“People living in a hybrid world where some of their data is in the cloud, some it is on the edge devices or some combination of that. They’re working in different environments where they have connectivity or they don’t.”
“So having multiple ways to access that data and those applications is going to make things a lot easier”
Of course, achieving these advances isn’t without its challenges.
Body says that “A lot of the antennas that we’re integrating into the products are definitely a big design challenge for us but we think it’s gonna be worth it. There’s a lot of new pieces that are going to make things a lot more seamless for the end user.”
The other big announcement to come out of Dell's CES showcase was the debut of their latest XPS 13 notebook. Where the previous models worked to whittle away the top and side-bezels, the new XPS 13 cracks down on the bottom-most edge of the display. All told, it offers a 6.8% larger display.
We asked Boyd whether Dell are looking at next-generation screen technologies and whether the next frontier of XPS hardware might incorporate the kind of cool we’re starting to see in the smartphone space like in-display speakers and cameras.
Boyd says “Sure, we’re looking at all that stuff.”
“When we’re trying to make XPS, we’re pushing it to the limits.”
“We’re trying to make sure that the parts [inside] are highly mobile, so that’s a big focus with us. The screen, you know, quality of image is so important to the end user so we’re making sure the screen quality is amazing.”
In pursuit of this, Boyd says Dell is looking at a number of new display technologies including OLED and MicroLED.
“There’s a lot of breaking technologies with Polymer-OLED that are coming in. Following that, you have MicroLED,” Boyd explains.
That being said, Boyd admits that it’s going to be a few years before MicroLED is ready for the mass market.
“I think that we’ll start seeing the first versions of that in 2023 and beyond. It’s coming. Everyone’s incubating because of the cost that you have with OLED. You don’t have burn in. It’s low power. [MicroLED] has a lot of potential, I’ll say that.”
Boyd says that “If I had my way, borders would go away altogether. So we’re working on that. A lot of those kinds of advances. We’re trying to make the form-factor fully optimised, meaning it's as small as it can be.”
Of course, traditional clamshell PCs aren’t the only form-factor that Dell is looking to offer in the future. At this year’s CES, the OEM showed off both prototypes for a foldable and dual-screened PC. Naturally, we had to ask Boyd which approach he thinks customers will prefer.
“When we look at dual and foldable, we’d prefer to get the foldable but we’d want to solve some of these problems we see with the first generation of the tech.”
“Long term, I think foldable is the thing that most people will prefer. But there are some inherent problems that have to be solved with the foldable strain: getting rid of all borders, it kinda makes sense to us longer term.”
“Obviously the foldable technology is less mature, it scratches, it wrinkles, you know. It can be damaged a lot easier. It doesn't have a glass layer on top of it. So those are some of the challenges that everybody incubating foldable is dealing with but not having borders is very appealing.”
Disclosure - our coverage of CES 2020 was sponsored by Intel and Dell, who covered the cost of our flights to the US and our accommodation for the duration of our stay in Las Vegas.