Snapdragon-powered laptops could be the future for ultra-portable Windows devices

I think we all saw this day coming. With how powerful mobile processors are getting, it was only a matter of time before mobile silicon makers made the big push to get their chips in full-fledged Windows laptops and tablets. For Qualcomm, that day has arrived, but for everyone else, the question is: What’s new?

Two laptops were announced today, one from ASUS and one from HP. While these devices are both 2-in-1s that are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, they adopt different form-factors. HP’s Envy X2, for example, is a detachable ala Microsoft Surface Pro.

It’s also the more premium of the two devices, sporting HP’s new logo and a slim form-factor that looks pretty sexy. It’s got a detachable keyboard and a 12.3-inch 1928×1280 pixel display. The Envy X2 is also really slim and light, weighs just shy of 700g thanks to its aluminium case.

Unlike something like the Microsoft Surface Pro, there is no kickstand built into the tablet, instead the kickstand lives in the bundled keyboard case so it’s more like an iPad Pro in this regard.

You can configure this laptop with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage which is pretty standard for a laptop. There is, unfortunately, only one USB Type-C port.

ASUS’ NovaGo, on the other hand, opts for the whole flip around 360-degree hinge form factor instead. It’s got a slightly larger 13.3-inch LTPS touchscreen display that pushes a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. However, the NovaGo weighs more than the Envy X2, coming in at 1.39kg.

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You do get a few more ports with the NovaGo as it features two USB Type-A ports and an HDMI port, a microSD card slot as well as a headphone/mic 3.5mm jack. Unfortunately, you don’t get USB Type-C. You can configure it to also pack up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage though the NovaGo uses UFS 2.0 so it should be snappier.

So far, both of these laptops look like your standard Windows PC affair, but the strengths of adopting a mobile chipset from Qualcomm over one of Intel’s Core processors lie under the surface. The first big strength is battery life.

These Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powered Windows laptops claim up to 20 hours of continuous use on a single charge. That’s pretty incredible because I don’t think there’s a single Intel Core-powered laptop that has that kind of battery life.

Secondly, these ARM laptops also can take advantage of Qualcomm’s X16 LTE modem which supports Gigabit LTE connectivity. This is part of Qualcomm’s big push for having always connected PCs where you won’t need to rely on dodgy public WiFi at your local coffee house when you’re working on the go.

Bundle this with claims of “reliable performance” (whatever that means) when running proper Windows apps and Qualcomm could have something awesome on their hands here. Since mobile chipsets will only get more powerful and more efficient, we could be looking at the start of a future where ultra-portable laptops are all powered by mobile processors.

Both the ASUS NovaGo and HP Envy X2 ship with Windows 10S but the manufacturers will offer a one-time upgrade to full Windows 10 Pro before September 30th, 2018. The ASUS NovaGo has prices starting from USD599 (around RM2,437) for the base model and USD799 (around RM3,250) for the high-spec variant. There’s no pricing information for the HP Envy X2 yet but it is expected to start shipping in Spring of next year (around Q2).

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