At the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit, ASUS has introduced its first Snapdragon-powered laptop, the ASUS NovaGo (model TP370). It is an always-connected laptop which has built-in Gigabit-class 4G LTE and comes with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM to cater to more demanding users.
The NovaGo is designed to achieve superior battery life by using an extremely low power Snapdragon 835 chip, with its integrated Qualcomm X16 4G LTE modem. At the same time, it uses a 50Wh battery, which is a decent size battery for a laptop.
Snapdragon 835 is the main processor powering some of the most advanced Android phones and tablet. Now, imagine what kind of battery life you would get by running that kind of hardware with a laptop-sized battery, and you get a general idea.
To make this happen, Qualcomm and Microsoft have worked together to make Windows 10 S the main platform for these new laptops. We will publish a dedicated article comparing Windows 10 S vs. Windows 10 and 10 Pro, but essentially, 10 S is a more streamlined and optimized version of Windows 10, which runs more efficiently. 10 S can only run apps found in the Microsoft Store, but users can upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
The software optimization aspect is not to be neglected because Windows isn’t known to be extremely power-efficient, and it is common to see background tasks running amok and killing one’s battery life. Windows 10 S should improve this situation. Whether you can only live with the in-Store apps, depends on your usage model."RUNS ON WINDOWS 10 S"
The ASUS NovaGo is a classic 360-degree clamshell (or 2-1 PC) that can turn into a fairly thick tablet. Because it is designed to be affordable, the industrial design isn’t particularly new or even extremely attractive.
It looks very decent, and the design is low-key. On the surface, it seems fairly sturdy and would look like a ~700 laptop, although its base price is lower than this,
This computer is designed for the common Productivity cases: it has a full-size HDMI port for presentations and watching content on a large display. It also features two full-size USB ports to be compatible with accessories and peripherals. This is the model for people who want to continue using their computers as a regular PC.
At 3.06 Lbs and 14.9mm, the ASUS NovaGo will certainly not the lightest and thinnest Always Connected laptop, but it still fits in the thin and light category. As such, it should have an advantage when it comes to real-world battery life. We still need to take one for a spin to assess the real world performance.
The 13.3” display seems very decent, and in-line with normal laptops in a similar price range. There is no surprise here. We don’t expect displays or chassis to be affected by the change of Processing Platform.
This IPS LCD display is rated to reproduce 100% of the sRGB color gamut, which is a very good thing. The 100% sRGB gamut specification gives some credibility to ASUS’s claim that this laptop is oriented towards “Creatives,” although we’re not thinking about professional creatives, but rather to multimedia users.
Since it is impossible to know what apps you will install and how you use your PC in the real world, the most important factors for battery life are:
- platform power consumption
- battery capacity
- operating systems inner-workings
It is extremely difficult to get accurate information about power draw, but we can look at TDP or Thermal Design Point, which is the heat generated by the processor. The heat is generated usually correlates with power being consumed.
A smartphone processor will consume much less than most normal PC processors. For example, it is very common to see PC laptop processors that are designed with a TDP of 15W and require active cooling (fans). Your phone can churn a lot of tasks, while using less power, and have no active cooling."A CLEAR SYSTEMIC POWER-ADVANTAGE"
There is a clear systemic power-advantage in using a mobile processor when it comes to power and heat.
The second advantage is the form-factor. Phone batteries are limited in capacity because the chassis need to be extremely compact. With a laptop form-factor that has many times the size of aq phone, the ratio between the Processor consumption and the capacity available become very favorable.
This is a bit of a wildcard here. The concept of small, affordable and handy laptops is not new. That is exactly what Netbooks used to be. However, they fell out of favor when people realized that they were not good enough to be used as normal computers. Too slow and too small, without an amazing battery life: they were a disappointment."SNAPDRAGON 835 POWERS ADVANCED ANDROID DEVICES"
Qualcomm’s always-connected PC tries to solve all of this. The ASUS NovaGo looks and feels like a normal 13.3” computer. The HP Envy x2 seems like a fancy competitor for the Microsoft Surface. We just talked about the battery life, which should be superior for systemic reasons.
As for the performance, it is clear that these won’t compete with Intel’s 15 Watt-TDP Core i7, especially the gen-8 which has quad cores. However, the question is: is the performance good enough for the common tasks that Qualcomm and ASUS are targeting?
At first sight, the ASUS NovaGo was surprisingly snappy “for a laptop running with a mobile processor.” Browsing the web felt pretty natural, and there was no visible slow-down. This is great because many Intel Core-M laptops immediately felt slow. At least, we’re beyond that stage."THIS IS LOOKING VERY GOOD, BUT WE NEED TO PUT IT TO THE TEST"
Without running additional tests, and using the laptop with a bunch of apps installed and running at the same time, we cannot yet vouch for it. We’re looking forward to putting it to the test, and the questions are:
- is this laptop fast enough to make basic usage agreeable?
- how many users will be satisfied with Windows S and use only the in-store apps
- if the user wants to upgrade to Windows 10 (non-S), what would be the performance impact?
This is looking very good, but we need to put it to the test.
What we can say right now is that ASUS and Qualcomm have a shot at creating something really special that significantly improves certain aspects of PC computing. Fro our discussions with employees of those companies, it is fair to say that the expectations are realistic: from a computing standpoint, these laptops are designed to provide extraordinary battery life to very common usage models.
If you have a somewhat boring computing life, with low-intensity tasks and just wish for a better battery life and connectivity, these new PCs can make a huge impact in your life. As Snapdragon gets more powerful and covers more usage models (while keeping the same battery benefits), that market will surely expand.
Configurations and prices are: $599 USD 4GB / 64GB or $799 for 8GB / 256GB. It will be launched in the USA, Europe, China and Taiwan.
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