In the midst of CES 2018, the slate of new computers on display, including laptops, 2-in-1 hybrids, desktops and tablets, felt a little dry. There were few revolutionary new designs, and only a handful of brand-new products — most were modest internal or external updates to existing lines from Dell, HP, Lenovo and others.
But looking a little deeper, I realized this was a year of partnerships and team-ups, where how the elements inside new computers worked together was more important than what they looked like on the outside.
Intel and AMD
This is the team-of-rivals pairing no one thought would ever happen. Intel’s new Kaby Lake G processorsinto a very small package that can fit into slim mainstream laptops and small desktops, while offering decent gaming performance and even VR support. So far, we’ve only seen a few laptop examples, in the high-end and the , along with Intel’s own , a tiny book-sized desktop, but it’s the new hardware idea we’re most eager to test and benchmark in 2018.
Laptop bodies and smartphone brains
At one time, the conventional wisdom was that smartphones were becoming so powerful and so feature-packed, and with such big screens, that they would eventually replace tablets and laptops for a lot of people. Tablets have indeed become less ubiquitous, but the computer lives on, as people find it hard to actually give up things like physical keyboards, touchpads and full-size displays.
Instead of phones becoming more like laptops, this year at CES, laptops are becoming more like phones, adding smartphone CPUs like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon for 20-plus hours of battery life and an always-on LTE connection.is joining already announced systems from HP and Asus as early adopters of this new platform.
PC maker Razer showed off a prototype calledthat takes a different approach to the same concept, starting with a standard 13-inch laptop body, and not only turning it into a dock for a smartphone, but also using the phone screen as both a touchpad and a second display. There’s .
Alexa and your PC
Alexa, along with other smart helpers like the Google Assistant, is coming to all sorts of devices, from televisions to cars to kitchen appliances. So why shouldn’t Alexa feel at home on computers as well? Lenovo is adding Alexa support, which will take advantage of the company’s far-field laptop microphones, to . A handful of PCs from Acer, Asus and HP are also getting on board the Alexa train, although so far it sounds like Alexa’s computer launch may still be a few months out.
The best of the rest
Team-ups aside, there were plenty of other interesting new PCs and PC-related news at CES 2018. Here are some highlights you shouldn’t miss.
- claims to be the world’s thinnest laptop, at 8.98mm. That it has a sizable 14-inch display makes that even more impressive.
- The latest mini Intel desktop, the (short for “next unit of computing”) is a mini Kaby Lake G desktop about the size of a trade paperback that can support VR headsets.
- Nvidia has a couple of new things for gamers to get excited about. The Nvidia Shield streaming features. HP, Acer and Asus will all make their own versions of this beast. is a 65-inch G-sync display with 4K resolution, HDR support and built-in
- Dell offers a pretty sharp-looking update to one of our favorite laptops, , which is now smaller with new colors, but sadly keeps the same up-the-nose webcam under the screen.
Compare these new announcements with our pre-show predictions about what new CES laptops and PCs we’d find.
CES 2018: CNET’s complete coverage of tech’s biggest show.