Interview with Josephine Tan, Chief Designer of HP

This may not be a good time for the "Waiting for the Party", because several commercially available products with very high cost performance are basically out of stock. For example, HP's Shadow Elf 6 series, many of the best-selling versions have been sold out on official channels, but there are still a large number of consumers who make reservations to buy them.

After so many years of development, the PC industry as a whole has nothing to do with the word "high-speed growth", but this does not mean that all categories in the industry are silent. Among them, gaming notebooks and high-end lightweight notebooks are among the few There are also growing product categories, and the hope of the whole village lies in this.

As the leading manufacturer of the PC industry, HP has a series of wizards (shadow wizard, light wizard and phantom wizard) in the field of gaming notebooks. The design team behind this series is at the helm of HP's global chief designer Josephine Tan. To be precise, all of HP's consumer notebooks are designed by Josephine Tan's team, including the Spectre series that is unique among high-end thin and light notebooks.

Not long ago, Josephine Tan accepted an interview with Ai Faner. This interview that was supposed to meet offline was changed to an online interview due to the epidemic, but it was in time for the great sales of the wizard series and the e-sports event was still hot. Appropriate.

Game design: simplicity is the trend, individuality is the demand

If you pay attention to the changes in the design trend of the Shadow Elf series of notebooks, you will find that it is breaking away from the "game book" in the popular sense. What is the "game book" feeling in the popular sense? Probably that is the heavy body, complicated lines, huge and aggressive logo, and eye-catching lighting effects.
For this style, people who like it will think it is cool and fashionable, and people who don't understand it may think it is a "killing Matt" style.

In the generation of Shadow Elf 6, the overall style is more concise, and the use of lines is very restrained. Even the logo and lighting effects are limited, and I don't want to show too much murderousness. Josephine Tan said to Ai Faner:

(Shadow Elf 6 Design) The biggest change is that everyone can clearly see that the design language is different.

In fact, at the beginning of our research and development, when we were thinking about which trend the game should go, we found that in the past year or two, the majority of players have paid more attention to professional e-sports. In the field of e-sports, everyone emphasizes The design style is actually going in the direction of simplicity.

But it is very interesting that in the field of e-sports, even though the style of professional e-sports has moved towards simplicity, e-sports players hope to add their own characteristics. So you will find that one of the big changes in Shadow Elf 6 is that the entire design looks simpler, but it has its uniqueness-we call it a tattoo: when you open the notebook, it will appear on the C side See a number, that is a tattoo, it can highlight the unique temperament of this notebook.

To some extent, e-sports players have always been pursuing individuality, but the method has changed. In the past, it may have been through the obvious places such as logo and lighting effects, but the later, the way to show individuality will become more hidden. Sex is more low-key, but this does not mean that personality is "annihilated". On the contrary, it is like a movie's easter egg, which is more memorable.

In addition to the "tattoo" numbers on the C side, Josephine Tan also modified the Shadow Elf logo to make it simple in form but richer in connotation. She introduced:

There are infinite possibilities in the game world. We hope that through design, we can help these game players to achieve infinite possibilities, make the impossible possible (make the impossible possible). Therefore, our logo has become very simple, and designed with a sense of color gradient, we hope to present this colorful light, and different colors can be seen from every angle, to highlight and show this concept.

In addition to the obvious changes in style, some changes require two generations of products to be found together. For example, compared to the previous generation of Shadow Elf, the new generation of Shadow Elf 6 has been reduced in width by almost 20mm. Almost everyone who pays attention to the consumer electronics industry understands this trend: whether it’s smart phones, thin and light laptops, or gaming laptops, they tend to pack larger screens into smaller and smaller bodies. The wizard series is no exception.

However, compared to smart phones or thin and light notebooks, gaming notebooks have much higher requirements for heat dissipation, and the reduction in size has undoubtedly a negative effect on heat dissipation. Therefore, the design team of Josephine Tan must make other efforts to make up for it. , Such as increasing the area of ​​the air outlet, but in the notebook design, many changes are actually affecting the whole body, any change must be fully considered. Josephine Tan introduced us to the complexity and how to deal with it:

When you look closely, you can find that the area of ​​the air inlet and outlet of the Shadow Elf 6 has become larger. The main reason is to strengthen the air circulation efficiency of the fuselage, so that the air can circulate more quickly. If this is done, the CPU and GPU will not be down-clocked and can maintain a certain level of performance release.

When it comes to air outlets, many people are discussing whether two, three or four air outlets are needed. In fact, what is more important is how big the air outlet is and how effective the fan is. Because when the air outlet is larger, the structure of the machine will actually become more fragile, just like a building with more windows, its structure needs more iron bars to strengthen and make it more stable.

For the same reason, if there are more holes in the body, the structure of the notebook needs to be stronger. Therefore, we have strengthened the structural strength of this generation of Shadow Elf 6. Compared with the previous generation, Shadow Elf 6 needs to add an air outlet to maintain good performance, but we don't need to have four air outlets because I hope to have enough space for expansion interfaces. The more air outlets there are, the less space is left for expansion interfaces, but for players, these interfaces are very important. They need external display screens and other game accessories.

"What we want to know is, what do gamers care about?"

Unlike many gaming notebooks, the Shadow Elf 6 series is very restrained in RGB lighting effects. If it is not for the configuration and heat dissipation specifications, many people would not even associate it with traditional gaming notebooks.

Compared to some notebooks that are surrounded by light effects, the Shadow Elf 6 series basically only do light effect processing in the keyboard area, and other places are very low-key. This is naturally a choice. Regardless of whether it is the lighting effect on the A side or the surrounding light strip on the frame, in Josephine Tan's view, the core issue is not whether it is cool or not, but what consumers care about?

Before answering this question, she enumerated the gains and losses of lighting effects:

When the body becomes smaller, the space becomes smaller, so we have to consider how to maximize the space to get the best performance.

If we say that there are lights on the A side, there are two problems to be solved: First, when the body is small, the size of the battery will also be affected, so we have to make a balance to make the battery life smaller. I would rather not need the A side light; secondly, there must be room in the A side for the light to show, it will affect the thickness. When the body becomes smaller, the thickness increases. This logic seems to be wrong.

For the same reason, when the LED is around the notebook, you have to make the body larger, so that the screen-to-body ratio will be affected.

In contrast to the lighting effects, the Josephine Tan team actually made a redundant design for the heat dissipation of the Shadow Elf 6.

This contrasting approach responds to the previous question:

In terms of design, what I value is that functions and performance can be optimized to the greatest extent, because when users buy a machine, they hope that what they buy is very useful, practical, and meets their needs.

Although many people will jokingly say that RGB lighting is the soul of the game book, in fact, compared to this kind of first-sighted pleasure, the essence of the game book still has to consider how to make users feel "never get bored", and this is what What Josephine Tan has been thinking about.

Last year, HP released a more conceptual product Phantom Genie X, which is a dual-screen gaming notebook. The reason why it considered putting two screens on the gaming notebook was because Josephine Tan and the team discovered that many gamers, especially Chinese gamers frequently look at their mobile phones while playing games, so they hope to use another screen to ease this frequent device switching.

In addition, dual-screen notebooks are also a direction for the development of PCs. There are also manufacturers outside of HP that are trying, including Microsoft, which is also starting to take actions at both ends of the software and hardware. Currently, the dual-screen experience on Windows is still being optimized.

For HP, the Phantom X is more like a device for developers, because HP, who is good at hardware, understands that consumers will not pay for it because it has an extra screen. Josephine Tan said:

It (Phantom Genie X) needs more time to become a more mainstream product. The hardware itself is not enough. We need some game software to take advantage of its advantages.

This is one of the reasons why HP did not continue to update Phantom Genie X this year. Of course, HP can plug in new processors and graphics cards on the basis of the old models, and match them with higher refresh rate screens, but in essence, this cannot be used for consumers. Provide fresh and unique value. Therefore, Josephine Tan said that Phantom Genie X is the beginning of exploration. When this series is updated again, it will be the time when the dual-screen experience will make a breakthrough.

Where will the game book go in the future?

As a designer, Josephine Tan talked about many design trends, such as the simplification of design styles, and the exploration of dual-screen experience. Of course, there is also a more recognized screen refresh rate that is getting higher and higher, and the screen-to-body ratio is increasing. Higher level.

Some near-future trends will also occur in the game field.

For example, in the 4G era, only a very small number of notebooks will have SIM card slots and connect to mobile networks, but in the 5G era, this situation may change. It's not just that the speed of 5G has become faster. Josephine Tan said:

When you need to play multiplayer real-time online games, you need a lot of network throughput, and you need a very low latency to make it more enjoyable to play. 5G can just solve this problem.

At the same time, because of the characteristics of the 5G network, the concept of cloud gaming will gradually land, and some computing will gradually begin to be placed in the cloud.

Of course, the AI ​​concept that is hot in the field of mobile Internet will not be absent. Josephine Tan believes that the future notebook will have more "autonomy": it will slowly learn how you use your computer, so that automatic adoption is easier and more A simple way to help you set your environment and your preferences. This is one of the applications of artificial intelligence in gaming notebooks.

In fact, AI has begun to be used in HP's gaming notebooks, Josephine Tan said:

The term AI has been a bit overused, and some very simple things are also called artificial intelligence. But now you can start to see that some things have slowly become common features. For example, our Dynamic Power function can automatically set the power consumption of CPU and GPU according to your game playing habits and specific games. In fact, this is also a kind of artificial intelligence, but we have not specifically publicized it.

In addition to 5G, cloud gaming and AI, the fourth trend that Josephine Tan believes is the wirelessization of gaming devices. Earlier, e-sports players liked to use the RJ45 interface to connect to a wired network, and use a wired mouse, keyboard, and headset. This is because the wired connection is more stable and the delay is lower. However, in a group of players who do not pursue the limit so much, the network connection has long been free from the shackles of the cable, and the stability and delay of the wireless keyboard and mouse will not affect the game performance. As for the delay of the wireless headset, it can also be reduced to less than 100ms. Approaching the limit that humans can perceive.

At the end of the interview, Josephine Tan specifically mentioned Chinese gamers. she says:

In other countries, we have found that the average game time for players is about 45 minutes, but Chinese gamers may take more than an hour. Therefore, Chinese players have relatively higher requirements for the game book. For example, the heat dissipation must be good enough to be able to Let players continue to play for a longer time. When designing products, our design philosophy must fully consider the needs of Chinese users.

Among them, the Shadow Elf series is particularly the case. Josephine Tan confessed that when HP designed the Shadow Elf series, most of its insights were for Chinese players.

In other words, it has won the trust of Chinese players, and there is no problem in conquering other markets.

In the plastic greenhouse of destiny, every cabbage that has been sprayed with too much pesticide has a dream of becoming a pollution-free organic vegetable.

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