Bleeding edge technologies might cut their teeth in niche markets, but they find their home in the office. Faster and more intuitive wired and wireless connections, and more powerful computers with greater efficiency, can all play a huge part in improving the working environment and making your day job that bit easier.
Here are some of the most exciting office tech trends to take advantage of in 2021. For many of these advances, Cable Matters offers a wide array of products perfect for businesses.
One of the greatest advances in connection bandwidth in many years, HDMI 2.1 leapfrogs all of the competition and makes HDMI cables once again one of the best ways to enjoy absolutely cutting edge video and audio. That makes HDMI 2.1 the ideal solution for connecting higher resolution and refresh monitors and televisions – perfect for design work and group presentations.
For immersive media rooms, HDMI 2.1 cables also simplify A/V setups without sacrificing quality, thanks to their support of the enhanced audio return channel (eARC). That streamlines the setup of surround sound audio with Dolby Atmos support, with just one cable.
Cable Matters offers a line of HDMI cables and adapters.
USB4 and Thunderbolt 4
Where HDMI 2.1 is the hot new connection for displays, USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 are what’s exciting the laptop, desktop, and accessory worlds. Both leveraging the USB-C cable header and offer almost interchangeable features, raising the bar for performance on compatible devices. Both cables also deliver up to 100W of power for faster device charging.
Both are capable of transferring data at up to 40 Gbps – or around 5GBps. That would let you transfer entire HD movies to and from an external drive in seconds, so it’s perfect for regular file transfers between a laptop and camera, or for backing up expansive internal hard drives. They can both also use the DisplayPort Alt Mode technology to transmit video to external displays at up to 8K resolution.
The real difference between the two is that Thunderbolt 4 is a licensed technology, so laptop or desktop manufacturers have to pay for the privilege of using it. It also guarantees a minimum speed and feature set, which not all USB 4 devices will do.
These technologies will both become commonplace in laptops and desktops as 2021 draws to a close, and can be further augmented by compatible docks and adapters, like those offered by Cable Matters.
As an Intel technology, Thunderbolt 4 will mostly be found on Intel-powered desktops and laptops. Many of them will also be certified by Intel’s Evo program. Building atop its prototype Project Athena platform, Intel Evo certification guarantees a minimum level of laptop performance, battery life, and responsiveness, which helps prospective buyers cut through the noise of the many laptops models available, letting them buy with confidence.
Intel Evo laptops are powered by Intel Core i5 or i7 11th-generation Tiger Lake processors, complete with onboard Xe graphics. That gives the chips plenty of general compute performance, but also capable graphics, making them decent at 3D design work too.
All Evo laptops must also offer at least nine hours of operation with a 1080p display, offer up to four hours of battery life after a half-an-hour charge, and wake up from sleep in less than a second, so it’s always ready to use. They must also have no fans larger than 15mm, or use a fanless design for quiet operation, and narrow bezels for a seamless, and modern look.
Intel Evo laptops make buying a new generation of office equipment easier than ever, because you know they’ll be fast, quiet, and responsive, whatever task you put them through.
M1 Macs – The Apple alternative
If your office environment is more geared towards MacOS, then there’s plenty to be excited too. The new-generation MacBooks fitted with Apple’s M1 system on chip design are modern marvels. Built in conjunction with ARM, these SoCs are orders of magnitude faster than any Intel-powered MacBook has been in the past, and brings the lightweight and more affordable line of MacBook Air M1 laptops right alongside the MacBook Pros in terms of raw performance.
Due to the new design of these chips, there is some emulation involved using the Rosetta 2 compatibility layer, which means there may be some niche software applications that fail to run as they should on M1 Macs. That said, Apple has done an amazing job to make almost everything run, and run well, with even older software often seeing big performance improvements on the new M1 Macs.
Just make sure you have a USB-C hub or two, as M1 MacBooks continue the Apple trend of limited port connections.
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is a huge leap in performance for local wireless networks, enabling close to triple the bandwidth of Wi-Fi 5 and a true alternative to fast wired connections. Wi-Fi 6 can also handle a greater number of devices on a wireless network far more effectively, avoiding bottlenecks and increasing network efficiency.
It does require a network upgrade with new Wi-Fi 6 router(s) and supporting devices to make the most of it, but Wi-Fi 6 should lead to more capable, efficient, and leaner networks, with the ability to support more devices on a single router. It’s also more efficient than older standards too, helping to extend the battery life of all connected devices.