Demand for Mobility and Convenience Have Increased the Uptake of Thin and Light Laptops

Joumana Karam, the Marketing and Product BU Head for the Middle East at Acer, speaks about the market for think and light laptops, the evolution of laptops over the years, all-day battery life, effortless remote working, and more

What is the market for thin and light/ultraportable laptops in the region?
The thin and light laptops category is one of the fastest growing segments of the PC market worldwide. This segment has multiplied more than 2.5 times year-on-year in the Middle East as of March 2020. In fact, we notice that 74% of all laptops in retail in the UAE, are categorised as thin and light. We at Acer are very proud to be one of the first OEMs to ship more than 80% of our portfolio as thin and light products.

How have laptops evolved from heavy monsters to thin and featherlight laptops?
There have been several factors which have paved the way for the prominence of featherlight laptops, which are more human-centric than spec-specific. This includes consumer and business demand for mobility and convenience, the evolution of technology in material design, thermal solutions, battery lifecycles, and the reduction of components’ sizes.

Is all-day battery life possible on ultraportable laptops, so you only carry the laptop and leave the charger at home?
Absolutely! The all-day battery was introduced alongside the introduction light and thin models. It is one of the essential features that enhance the mobility, portability, and convenience of the device. In fact, consumers should not be fooled by the less than 1kg weight or the less than 1cm height. For example, our Swift 7 and Swift 5 series operate with up to 10-12 hours of battery life. In addition, the new TravelMate P6 has a battery life of up to 23 hours but weighs only 1.1kg.

The laptops are getting thinner and lighter, but the sizes of the power adapters have largely remained the same. Why have companies not redesigned the power adapters so they become easier to carry around along with the laptops?
It is true that the power adapter size has not reduced at the same pace as the laptop itself. However, we can see that this point is being addressed in the new laptop generation and we will definitely witness a significant development in this area not only for the thin and light segment but for the entire laptop market.

There is a misconception that the heavier a laptop is, the more powerful it is. What’s your opinion about that statement?
As technology evolves, components have shrunk in size but still deliver high power and performance. Many thin and light laptops have high-end CPUs such as Core i7, big SSDs, HDDs, and even dedicated internal graphics. Furthermore, the range carries multiple screen size options: while 3 years ago most of the thin and light laptops had a 13-inch screen size or less, more than 80% of that segment are now 14-inch and 15.6-inch screens. I am proud to say that Acer was the first to launch the lightest 15.6-inch laptop with the Swift 5 and we still hold the first position of having the lightest 14-inch laptop ever with the Swift 7. In addition, we have the lightest proper gaming notebook which is the Triton 500.

With the rise in remote work, have we seen increased uptake of thin and light laptops?
Working and Learning from Home have increased the laptop demand and sales in general. Thin and light laptops are now part of all the price point segments, entry, mainstream and high-end, with all screen sizes well represented. In fact, 74% of the retail stocks pertain to that category  and it is reported that the laptop sales increase has ranged from 58% growth in UAE to 33% in KSA and 12% in Egypt.

Do you really need to buy a gaming laptop if you crave performance or thin and light laptops with excellent specs that could do just fine?
This depends on the type of gamer. A hard-core gamer wants to win every time he plays and is in search of the best gaming experience that can only be provided by top-of-the range powerful components packed in a proper cooling design that will keep his machine away from the heat at all times.

For the occasional gamer, a well-performing thin and light machine with an internal graphics card is more than enough, and this can be found in our Aspire, Swift, or Spin range.

Will we ever see 5G equipped laptops in order to get better wireless/cellular connectivity while on the road?
Yes for sure. 5G is going to be our new reality very soon. Although I would think that the commercial laptop will have this feature integrated first.

What are some of the innovative technologies that power Acer’s thin and light category?
We at Acer always continue to incrementally innovate our range of products, taking advantage of the latest internal and external technologies. To name a few, the magnesium aluminium chassis and palm rests enhance the durability and lightweight and the metal chassis allows ultra-narrow bezels. The new smaller in size CPU generations from Intel and AMD have helped spearhead the innovation as well as the increased SSD HDD capacity in a smaller housing. Acer is also proud to have powerful R&D team and we are ranked among the Top 3 in Taiwan for companies in terms of patent applications. Our thermal cooling technologies are among the most innovative and advanced solutions in that field.

What sort of new innovations is the company working upon, in this category?
Acer’s goal is to provide outstanding products and services to different users that meet their needs. We seek to identify micro-trends that have the potential to open up a blue ocean of opportunities. We will continue to optimise operations and lead with new technology trends and market segments. We have extended our thin and light concept to all our series. It is no longer the Swift range of products that is specific to thin and light but we also have models under Aspire, Spin, TravelMate, Chromebooks and Predator Triton that fall under the thin and light umbrella. We will continue to offer the lightest and most powerful design at the most affordable price points.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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