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On a wing and a prayer

HP puts out a formidable new enterprise product in its Elite Dragonfly business notebook, while Huawei works to damage-control the unkindest cut




Huawei's Google no-play

It's official. Huawei's flagship smartphone series, the Mate 30, will not come with Google Mobile Services (GMS) installed.

That means no Google apps and services like Google Map, YouTube and the Play Store.

Huawei will instead power the Mate 30 phones with a EMUI 10 operating system that is adapted from Google's open source Android OS, which do not come with the above-mentioned apps and security updates from Google. Third party apps like ride-hailing platforms and food delivery services, such as Grab and Food Panda that rely on Google Maps will also no longer function without access to Google services.

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In the longer term, Huawei will be pushing its own operating system called Harmony OS. But the company won't be using it in smartphones for now; not until it manages to build up a sizeable app ecosystem from within and external.

Huawei made a point to note that the Mate 30 Pro's EMUI 10 will feature CC EAL5+ certification, an aviation-grade security made possible with parts of the HarmonyOS microkernel architecture that's already making its way into parts of Huawei's software.

Huawei's consumer business relies heavily on products like their smartphones, which made up almost half of last year's revenue.

But without official access to apps that are only available on the Google Play Store, the Mate 30 and by extension the yet-to-be-launched foldable Mate X become a lot less attractive to mainstream customers.

Like most Android phones out there, one real possibility is the thriving third-party custom ROM scene that live in forums such as XDA-developers. If Huawei opens up the Mate 30 series to ROM makers, there is hope yet to access GMS services without Huawei's official blessing. By Aaron Yip

HP Elite Dragonfly

2019 has been a big year of advancements for notebooks as a whole. But while big brands have made significant strides in trickling down consumer-facing design and expectations to business series notebooks, they've not completely done away with certain limitations - be it aesthetics, form, functionality, portability or security. Clearly, HP didn't want to make incremental changes and wanted to truly offer breakthrough power and mobility. The result is a new Elitebook variant, the HP Elite Dragonfly.

Launched last week, it's a corporate class ultrabook beast for the new age. That means a lightweight, rugged, compact, and modern looking device that is capable, powerful and adapt to various needs - be it for work or entertainment after hours.

And HP's Elite Dragonfly would be the first business-class notebook to stray away from the classic silver and black with a new Iridescent Dragonfly Blue color. (It does remind us of another series of notebooks, but those are not meant for corporate needs).

Rather than aluminium alloy, the Elite Dragonfly is carved out of a single block of magnesium alloy (CNC milled) to achieve its strength and light weight. In fact, HP's managed to get it down to just under 1kg, and claims that the Elite Dragonfly is now the world's lightest business convertible notebook. Nor has HP traded build quality for weight. The Elite Dragonfly is put together really well; even the x360 hinges were carefully crafted out of the same materials as we were told.

The notebook also has an Oleophobic coating (similar to what many phones use on their screens) to repel smudges, stains and fingerprints. That's not to say you won't get any of that, but the properties of this coating makes it really easy to wipe them off.

Production model testing has also put it through being dropped from handheld heights and desk heights on all edges and corners, as well as pressure-testing to simulate the stresses a device will undergo in a backpack, purse, or work-bag.

While HP hasn't disclosed exact battery capacity details, the Dragonfly will come in two battery configurations - one that will last you up to 16.5 hours to keep the notebook really light (sub-1kg), and another that is specced to net you more than one day of battery life at up to 24.5 hours. Fast Charge technology claims to give you 50 per cent battery life for a 30-minute charge time, assuming you're charging the notebook from flat.

In keeping with the progressive design and needs of the intended user, HP has also engineered the Elite Dragonfly to incorporate the world's highest screen-to-body ratio for a business-class convertible notebook, at 86 per cent. This is an impressive feat considering that most convertibles usually have a thick lower bezel below the screen.

To protect confidential documents that are in open view when you're out and about, the Elite Dragonfly champions two key anti visual hacking features: HP Privacy Camera and HP Sure View. Privacy Camera is a physical shutter placed in front of the webcam, while Sure View allows you to work in peace without worrying about side-view snooping. All versions are touchscreen editions and offer inking capabilities through an optional HP Rechargeable Active Pen G3.

Keyboard? As quiet as HP promised thanks to rubber domes underneath the keys making them twice as quiet as their previous keyboards. There's even HP's own noise suppression technology built-in so that other can't hear you type while someone's presenting. And as can be expected from a no-holds barred enterprise notebook, a backlit keyboard is present, complete with dedicated Skype call management buttons.

Expected a bog-standard dual-speaker configuration? You get four top-firing speakers, each powered by its own amp (not shared) to produce a wider, more dynamic audio. Tuned by Bang & Olufsen to reproduce and maintain clarity even at the highest volume, HP says the tuning was also carefully taken care to maintain a good bass roll-off at the low-end of the audio spectrum.

A full-size HDMI port, USB 3.1 Type-A port, twin USB Type-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3 and a 3.5mm headphones jack round off your usual office connectivity requirements. Perhaps a microSD card slot would be nice to have as well, but at the enterprise sector, it's more of an option than a necessity.

As a forward looking notebook, we're glad that it is part of Intel's Project Athena platform which is all about instant responsiveness even when running on battery, wakes from sleep in under a second, intelligence, worry-free battery life, always connected reliably and has a great form factor.

To top if off, the Elite Dragonfly will also be offered with LTE options for true anywhere mobile connectivity and productivity. No Wi-Fi hotspots? No problem. By Vijay Anand

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