After announcing its plans to enter the PC Windows 10 market at Computex in July, Qualcomm and its partners from ASUS and HP have announced upcoming “always-on” laptops powered by Snapdragon 835, the same chip used in most high-end Android smartphones. This marks an inflexion point in the PC space as two of the most frequent consumer demands might finally be addressed: always-on connectivity and more than a full day of battery life.
The benefits of using a Qualcomm chip are the consequence of decades of innovation in smartphones and the relentless drive to drive higher performance per watt. The obsessive power-savings habits of the cellphone industry has made it possible for handsets to be connected and use as little power as possible. Today, many PCs aren’t even updating emails over WIFI when they are closed. Phones do, and Qualcomm’s Always-Connected PC should too. Microsoft says that this is a game-changer.
At its Snapdragon Summit in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm has invited two sizable partners: ASUS and HP. Both companies presented upcoming laptops which are based on Snapdragon 835, and promise to deliver similar benefits, namely 20hrs of video playback, many days (up tp 30) of standby power and a real Instant On that makes the computer usable as soon as it is turned on.
Today’s most power-conscious Intel-powered laptops might play video for 10-13 hours and that is one of the best-case scenarios when it comes to battery testing. We haven’t picked up those PCs for a real spin yet, but the technicals make it seem possible to achieve such a goal. The Snapdragon platform consumes less power than the Intel one. It is possible to further optimize communications and standby time.
The wild card here is also the level of performance that one is getting on these chips. However, there is a market that can be efficiently addressed: the basic productivity ultralight PCs. People who edit documents, lightly browse the web, stream movies, update social media and work on PowerPoint documents – that kind of things. These use cases can successfully be served within the compute power envelope of Snapdragon 835.
HP has announced the Envy x2 Always Connected, a 6.9mm thin 2-in-1 detachable that HP says match the 20 hrs battery life and connectivity goals. It is built with machined aluminum and should be available in Spring 2018, according to HP. No pricing has been announced.
ASUS has more details about its NovaGo always-on laptop: It is also a 2-1 laptop (360-degree screen rotation). In addition of the X16 Gigabit-class LTE modem integrated into Snapdragon 835, the laptop also features WiFi 4×4 MIMO for higher peak speeds. We spotted one full-size HDMI port on the side, but we’ll have to take a closer look to see how many USB ports there are.
The ASUS NovaGo uses a physical nano-SIM card or an eSIM card, to accommodate use cased where you have one account with multiple devices. ASUS say that it can play 22 hrs of video, and 30 days of standby. It is compatible with Windows Ink, Windows Hello and Cortana. Configurations and prices are: $599 USD 4GB / 64GB or $799 for 8GB / 256GB. It will be launched in the USA, Europe, China and Taiwan.
Finally, Lenovo has also been confirmed to be developing Snapdragon-powered laptops, although none was presented today. We had known that the trio of OEMs were working on this for more than 6 months, with Qualcomm’s CEO mentioning Windows 10 laptops multiple times this year.