The wait is nearly over for PCs that are powered by Qualcomm's Arm-based Snapdragon mobile processors and can run full versions of Windows 10.
Nearly a year after first announcing that Windows on Arm PCs were in the works, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Asus officially took the wraps off "Always Connected PCs" on Dec. 5 at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii. As characterized by Microsoft and its hardware partners, Always Connected PCs are a device class that's outfitted mobile chips, long-lasting battery life and cellular connectivity options that help make hunting down WiFi networks while on the road a thing of the past.
After spending a couple of months using an Always Connected PC of his own, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices group at Microsoft, described the hardware platform's virtues. "The screen is instantly on whenever I pick up the device. I never have to wait for it to wake up—it's just on."
Experiencing all-day battery life and taking the device to areas blanketed with LTE connectivity was similarly revelatory, he added. "Being always connected wherever I am whether I am in the car, airport or coffee shop, always being connected just feels like the most natural, safe and secure way to work with teams and be creative."
Soon, business technology buyers and consumers will be able to see if those claims hold up for themselves.
In the spring of 2018, HP will ship the Envy x2, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, similar to the processor found in high-end smartphones like Samsung's flagship Note8. Although the PC is bundled with Windows 10 S, the same operating system included with the student-focused Surface Laptop from Microsoft, buyers will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
Somewhat resembling Microsoft's Surface Pro, the screen is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and the case is machined aluminum. The Envy x2 is also thin profile. Measuring 6.9 mm thick, it matches Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro in thickness and nearly matches its weight at 1.54 lbs versus 1.53 lbs. for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the cellular option.
The device's Qualcomm X16 LTE modem can connect to networks that support the high-speed 4G LTE-Advanced standard. Its touch-enabled screen features a resolution of 1,920 pixels by 1,280 pixels and a detachable backlit keyboard that doubles as a protective cover. Inside, the device packs up to 8GB of system memory and up to 256GB of storage. Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours and 700 hours in standby mode.
HP will release information on pricing and partner mobile carriers as the Envy x2's ship date approaches, the company said.
Asus, meanwhile, is bragging about the mobile carriers that the Taiwanese PC maker has lined up for its new NovaGo convertible laptop. The company stuck deals with Sprint, Verizon, TIM, China Telecom and Chunghwa Telecom.
Billing the NovaGo as the "world's first Gigabit LTE laptop," the 13.3-inch Windows 10 S device also features a Qualcomm X16 LTE modem for brisk downloads over compatible networks. It will be available with up to 8GB and up to 256GB of Universal Flash Storage 2.0 (UFS 2.0), which provides transfer speeds of up to 1,400Mbps, faster than typical SSDs. Battery life clocks in at up to 22 hours with a 30-day standby rating.
Prices start at $599 for a configuration with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of UFS 2.0 storage. A shipping timetable yet to be determined, but the company plans to first sell the PC in the U.S., China, Italy, France, Germany, Taiwan and the U.K..