HP has unveiled a crop of new laptops, plus a new webcam, tailored to the needs of students and teachers in a transformed era of instruction.
“The pandemic has changed everything and all of our lives,” says Bill Avey, HP’s global head of education. “Teaching and learning are no different.”
While hybrid learning models in which teachers address students at home and in the classroom simultaneously have proven unpopular with school districts, he continues, “blended learning” that spans both settings is here to stay. As a result, schools that once gave only some of their students PCs or used computers only onsite are now embracing “one to one” policies aimed at equipping every student with a device of their own that they can use wherever they’re studying.
PCs suitable for blended learning must be both durable and light, according to Gretchen Irion, HP’s director of education and commercial desktops product management. “Previously a device in the classroom was opened a few times a day, a few days a week,” she says. Now students are using computers in every class. “They really need to be able to handle the additional stress in this more rigorous environment,” Irion notes.
Nonstop high-speed connectivity is equally critical, she adds. “One thing we’ve learned during this pandemic was that if you did not have access to the internet, you didn’t have access to learning,” Irion says. “Untethered broadband and connectivity is really essential to creating equitable access to learning content, creativity, and collaboration outside the classroom.”
Students in blended learning environments are also often doing two things at once, according to Irion, and therefore need larger displays. “They need to be able to view the lecture on one side of the screen that was assigned by the teacher and at the same time take notes or complete a digital assignment,” she says.
Optimized for second graders through 12th graders, the notebooks introduced today are all based on HP Fortis, a new PC standard designed for portability and ruggedness (“Fortis” is the Latin word for strong). All Fortis devices have mechanically reinforced corners, reinforced power and USB-C ports less vulnerable to the damaging effects of cable tugging, and spill-resistant keyboards with “pick-resistant” key caps that fidgety students can’t easily dislodge.
Fortis PCs weigh in at 3 lbs. and up, and feature expanded accidental damage protection and easily accessed components for faster servicing. Users can clean them 1,000 times with antiseptic wipes, HP says, without fading or discoloration.
Most of the devices showcased today come with 14-inch displays that, according to HP, offer 45% more viewing space than the 11-inch laptops students have typically used in the past. Most also come with either optional or standard LTE broadband. Over 80% of people worldwide have access to LTE at present and 95% will by 2027, according to recent data from Ericsson.
HP plans to create additional Fortis products for field service technicians, factory workers, and other mobile users who need durable hardware.