back to article Your next laptop will feature 'CMF' technology

HP Inc says it has flipped its relationship with the PC supply chain, and made colour, materials and finish as important to PCs as CPUs, screen sizes and disk capacities. Stacy Wolff, HP Inc's global head of design, told The Register today that four years ago HP's designers took what component-makers sent it, then designed PCs …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'HP Inc is not alone in this thinking.'

    Do we laugh or cry? PC makers are so out of touch with consumers, they live in the same bubble as Silicon Valley VC's... Why are Trialware / Crapware / Superfish-free simple netbooks etc, so unsexy to these guys... Why is Win10 with slurpware disabled, or a flavor of Linux so unthinkable?

    1. Goldmember

      Re: 'HP Inc is not alone in this thinking.'

      They're losing touch with the sort of consumers who frequent sites like this one. We're (generally) going to buy a device which most fits its intended purpose in terms of performance, over how it looks (Apple fanbois not included, naturally).

      But your average punter really will care more about aesthetics than performance/ usability. As long as it switches on, displays the latest Facebook drivel and comes in a pretty colour which matches the curtains, they really couldn't give less of a shit about anything else.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 'HP Inc is not alone in this thinking.'

      I think they've run out of ideas. There's not been much movement in the technology over recent years and they really, really, really want you to buy this years laptop model rather than carry on using that 3-5 year old one that still does the job it's always done.

  2. Field Commander A9

    “colour, materials and finish”

    Because only losers care about Max-Q.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't fashion assholes

    No wonder the PC industry is dying. Sell high PC's / Laptops with GTX-1080 for gaming, or simple cheap netbooks for surfing. What's the problem? You are: HP / Lenovo / Dell / Asus/ Acer, you deserve extinction.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: This isn't fashion assholes

      It is dying because it continues not to deliver what the customer want.

      I would add to that list:

      Excellent A12 notebooks with a Radeon R7 which are deliberately crippled by small RAM, slow rusty spinner and a battery the size of what went into netbooks (while being half-empty inside the shell and having a DVD drive take half of the remaining space).

      You know, Intel is BETTER (according to HP marketing). And when it is not, the spec will be crippled until it does look so. Repeatedly. And after that they are wondering why we do not want to buy their shite.

    2. Joe Werner

      Re: This isn't fashion assholes

      Well... yes and no. In this forum people care about the actual specs, the ports, battery life, technical stuff. There is also definitely a market for selling stuff that's shiny in appearance. The question is, do the "shiny stuff" people buy laptops or are they all about strass covered phablets? (or buy Macs anyway...)

      But personally I agree: I would give them my money for a netbook-sized machine (10") with my desired specs. I travel a lot, and I would like to be able to work on the plane (so: small size, good battery life, tons of storage are what I want, only then comes the CPU....)

  4. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

    Could we be a little more patronising? How about a better shade of pink?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

      Could we be a little more patronising?

      How is it patronising to offer a product in more varieties, hoping to appeal to a wider market through some basic segmentation? Personally, like I suspect most men, I'm indifferent, and therefore happy with black, grey or silver, if other people, some male, undoubtedly more female, want a splash of colour, a leopard skin pattern, snakeskin cover, what exactly is your worry? The fact that they pointed out that these variants appeal to one gender more than another? There's a first world & BBC problem if ever I saw one.

      The big computer makers spent a long while (almost) following Ford's patriarchal approach: "Any colour you want so long as its black" (or beige - remember when all computers were beige?). Next thing you'll be complaining that there's male and female variants of bike.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

        "if other people, some male, undoubtedly more female, want a splash of colour, a leopard skin pattern, snakeskin cover, what exactly is your worry?"

        The worry is that externals become everything and internals don't matter. The price goes up to cover the cosmetics which are wrapped round an inadequate set of internals.

        Once the stylists get their hands on things it ceases to be a case of form follows function; it becomes form over function and then style over function. Even if you can buy the plain brown envelope version you'll find they haven't bothered to change what's inside.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

          C'mon guys, this fear about form over function is maybe premature? I mean we have on the market faster laptops with better displays, trackpads and I/O than ever before, with useful battery life and a weight that is comfortable to hold in one hand if required. (Or some better compromise twixt the above than ever before). Shit, were even seeing laptops being sold with displays other than 16:9, and some are being sold with Linux and first party support for drivers etc.

          Where's the cause for worry? A bit of concern is healthy enough, but *don't panic*


          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

            Whoooo, I shoulda known better than to interrupt a moaning session here! :)

            The fact remains that laptops better than any ever before are available; faster, higher resolution screens, longer lasting batteries etc etc - if you choose carefully. Evidently this good news has upset some of you. I'm glad I'm not you!

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

          "The worry is that externals become everything and internals don't matter. "

          For most consumers, that's true. Good enough, which covers most models internals, is all that matters. After all, we all know people who buy a new laptop because the old one is "slow", ie full of crapware and toolbars.

        3. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

          And you STILL have a choice of

          1) Windows, but now "broken" GUI, privacy and updates. Stupid IoT services added to all the default services that should be off, despite some internal improvements. Less legacy compatible, main reason to buy.

          2) Chromebook, really a persistent terminal which never had and never will have privacy. Needs Google Cloud.

          3) Apple MAC OS, locked in more than MS or Google. Expensive. Increasingly iTuned/walled OS, dumbed down and difficult to upgrade. Only one vendor/source.

          If you want Linux you have to research or find a friend (if an ordinary person that's a refugee from Google, Microsoft or Apple).

      2. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

        Next thing you'll be complaining that there's male and female variants of bike.

        I know both small men and large women who refuse to get the bike that fits them the best as they're pointlessly gendered. It'd be great if the bike manufacturers could drop it so people could pick the bike that fits them the best. The only real exception to this is the saddle which is a five minute job to swap anyway.

  5. malle-herbert Silver badge

    Translation :

    We will do our best to make sure our laptops will be completely unserviceable and upgradeable...

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: Translation :

      Further Translation:

      That laptop is in last month's colour. Throw it away and buy a new, more stylish one.

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Translation :

        On the contrary. This focus on aesthetics is because laptops and computers in general have a longer working life than before. There was a time you'd have a new machine every 18-24 months just to keep up with the needs of your software, but now a combination of better silicon and much more remote application hosting means that a typical business user's laptop will see four years or more of use.

        It's worth investing a little bit in making something look and feel pleasant if you're going to be looking at it for that long..

        Apple isn't the only one with a history of doing this, and it's a mistake to assume that this strategy is only about "high fashion accessories". Gaming brands like Alienware have also had a lot of success investing in styling and non-functional frippery to shift their hardware to their target demographics. But somehow, making a bog-standard PC look like some kind of extra-terrestrial combat equipment doesn't attract the same kind of derision as daring to make a portable computer that a style-conscious woman, or man, would be happy to be seen carrying.

        Personally, I'd rather have the burgundy laptop with the fabric inlay, but I'm not going to pour scorn on someone whose gaming rig is their pride and joy.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Translation :

          There was a time you'd have a new machine every 18-24 months just to keep up with the needs of your software, but now a combination of better silicon and much more remote application hosting means that a typical business user's laptop will see four years or more of use.

          Or perhaps that Intel/AMD haven't produced significantly faster chips for about a decade so people don't think it's worth upgrading any more. The only real significant increase in speed has come from moving to SSDs and that jump in speed is a one off.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Translation :

          "It's worth investing a little bit in making something look and feel pleasant if you're going to be looking at it for that long."

          If the cosmetics aren't somewhat anodyne the pleasantness of the look may depend on it being the latest model. Nothing dates faster than fashion. It's called planned obsolescence.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Translation :

        I regularly redecorate the whole house to match the burn marks at my workstation where my latest physical pi coding has been successful.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: Translation :

      Exactly. I care not about how it looks, I care about how easy it is to repair and how good the parts are on the inside. I shouldn't have to remove a keyboard to remove a hard drive. I shouldn't have to take out 10 screws to remove the battery. I shouldn't have a hinge that breaks after 2 years of use of my laptop. And I shouldn't have to buy proprietary parts to repair a desktop. I'm looking at you, HP, on that one. Why do you have a proprietary power supply?

  6. Dwarf Silver badge

    Cost vs spec

    Obviously the cost won’t be changed at all to cover the new necessary overhead.

    I’ve got a better idea, up the spec with the same money (my money btw)..I don’t care about the colour or material as long as it’s durable and rough enough that it won’t slip out of your hands when you carry it.

    I do care about getting the job done with the machine, how long it lasts, what OS and what ports it’s got, so I can connect it to other stuff.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Cost vs spec

      There's plenty of systems like that already for you. Lenovo, Dell and HP's enterprise lines, to name but a few, have models that are bristling with ports, and where you're paying purely for the components inside. I had an office-special Dell 15" at a previous job - it was pretty dull and boring, but the specs were really good and it would survive a fair amount of abuse, and it could connect to pretty much anything.

      It's not a zero-sum game: companies are just addressing buyers who have different priorities to yours; but your attitude to purchases is still the prevalent one. If anything, the higher margins from the style-led systems will make the function-over-form models more affordable.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    HPE - Fiddling while their empire burns

    or to quoye James May,

    "What a load of old cock"

    But there again as a Baby Boomer, this stuff ain't amied at the likes of me so

    "Bah Humbug".

    Mines the one with a copy of 'Surely you're Joking, Mr Fenyman' in the pocket.

  8. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Meanwhile, the committee on fire hasn't reported back ...

    "OK, smartarse, what colour would you make it ?"

    1. maffski

      Re: OK, smartarse, what colour would you make it

      I don't care, as long as I can stick it up my nose.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May seem stupid.. my daughter wants a Blue or Purple, HP stream.

    No matter how much of me telling her she'd be better of with a boring black one, it isn't going to matter.

    Warning: Sweeping generalisations ahead.

    Think cars.

    Most men want BHP (which they will never use), cornering abilty (which they will never get even close to using), a million gadgets (which will ultimatley mean listening to Radio 2 / 4 or listening to MP3's on phone).

    Women want pretty and <insert colour>. Which they will like every day.

    Think House

    Women want to know how the green cushions will match the curtains, which in turn will match the walls. Where the pictures will go, how it will look once the feature wall is painted purple.

    Men: Yes it has four wall, no damp and plenty of pug sockets in the right place.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My current laptop has CMF

    Colour:- Black

    Material:- Plastic

    Finish:- Glossy.

    I'd rather have matt black, but I bought it because it was value for money, and if I have to buy one covered in fluorescent pink and yellow tartan to get a good specification for a minimum quantity of money, then I'll have a laptop that's less likely to be stolen.

  11. Fihart

    Let's hope the paint stays on better....

    .....than on the Windows 7 HP Pavillion g6 with extensive wear to the area around the keyboard, revealing black plastic below the apparently metallic finish.

    Consigned to the trash, probably because the power supply plug had disintegrated. Working again after some soldering.

    Ignoring appearances, this is a decently speedy little laptop -- though I've seen another HP g series machine with serious overheating (the case melted).

    HP maybe need to pay more attention to the materials and construction of their products and leave design aesthetics to later.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    I have a butt ugly laptop

    It weighs a ton, has good battery life, bloody good specs, masses of ports, load of features.

    So why isn't it the best seller?

    Because it costs a fortunes, weighs a ton and is butt ugly.

    No everyone is a techie male.

    If you don't want a pink one with a fluffy cover, don't fucking buy it. Just don't think you are the experts, you are not.

    I've built my own car in the past, the only compromise was my budget. However I don't patronise others that decide they would actually like a roof, windscreen, windows, carpets, heaters, doors, fuel economy, ground clearance, stereo, storage and all the other pretty things that ruin a cars performance and add needless cost.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I have a butt ugly laptop

      I know - but I have friends who have the coolest thinnest laptops. They have to put them on risers when using them on the desk to avoid getting RSI. And carry them around in protective cases to prevent them snapping in a gust of wind.

  13. spacecadet66

    Mine already has CMF, at least judging by how often I shake my fist at it and yell "Compile, mother f****er!"

    I hope they don't get rid of the LRF support though.

  14. Dave 62

    Form over function

    Ironically, here I sit on a (work supplied) HP EliteBook lamenting the death of function, daring not to use the wanky foldy slim-line ethernet port, lest the cable get trapped in it again, requiring brute force and a flat blade screwdrive to pry the f**ker out.

  15. johnnyblaze

    lick of paint

    I guess it just means they can keep charging more, because of course, everyone wants to pay hundreds extra for a 'pretty' finish don't they. Look at the HP Spectre or MS Surface. The internals are pretty much the same as you can buy on a £500 laptop, yet slap on an anodized/ceramic/virgin's blood finish, and you can charge double that - or more. Sorry, it's just a lick of paint at the end of the day. They've found a way to charge more for a basic device just by making it look nice and calling it 'premium'. I'm sure buyers aren't that dumb.

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: lick of paint

      "I'm sure buyers aren't that dumb."

      Would you put money on that?

  16. Morrie Wyatt

    And for the older Aussies among you:

    Diana Fisher would be pleased.

    "What colours does it come in?"

  17. Daedalus Silver badge

    Death spiral double down

    Companies on the verge of extinction follow the same pattern. Do the wrong thing for years, and when you get into trouble, double down on what you're already doing while talking it up as if it's something new.

    We've all noticed that laptops in stores are engineered to look slick and shiny first, work well second. Now that the drones have switched their love to iThings and DroidThings, the PC people have decided that it's the looks that really matter. Well, to the extent that the drones go for style over substance, they're correct. But style is the differentiator between phablets, not between laptops and phablets.

    It's just a pity that Lenovo are drinking the Kool Aid too. They were the last bastion of decent engineering.

  18. Nolveys Silver badge

    HP Inc products are now considered fashion.

    ...and KD Easy Mac is now considered cuisine.

  19. Mage Silver badge

    Oh dear

    The 1950s wants their synthetic cloth and synthetic leatherette cabinet cabinet covers back.

    PVC version of Rexine 1953

    Porous PVC coated synthetic cloth 1958

  20. John H Woods

    Best laptop that's ever been in this family ...

    A refurb i7 T430 from ebay, maxed out RAM, SSD for dual booting O/Ses, SSHD in a dual bay replacing the optical drive, and the higher res screen (1440x900 I think). Cost about 250 to put all that together. For another 50 I got some doohickey to connect the PCI-Express external port to a big box, in which I put a decent PSU and a very decent graphics card --- and adding the best monitor I could afford brought all the extras to about 700.

    Result - a one grand rig that can deliver pretty serious gaming performance, where the laptop element, which can be detatched and taken to lectures (and maybe even the library?!), is a robust boring relatively replaceable unit that is perfectly sufficient for work and fairly unappealing to high end lappy thieves.

    The really amazing part is that there's almost no modern laptop that could take the place of the T430 here. They're too expensive or they don't even match the performance of this old box. They have glossy screens making them less useful for work. They're too fragile to really be considered a portable, no-nonsense device. And, very very few of them have external interfaces fast enough to use a decent external graphics set up.

    1. TReko

      Re: Best laptop that's ever been in this family ...

      +1 for the matte screens.

      Glossy screens will go well with CMF laptops as you can use 'em as a mirror when checking your makeup.

      For serious work, glossy screens give serious eyestrain.

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