Earlier today, Qualcomm and Microsoft announced the first Windows 10 devices with ARM-based processors will be arriving early next year. HP, Asus, and Lenovo will all be launching laptops and convertibles with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor in them, with prices expected to range from $600 to $800.
Windows 10 on ARM is a reboot of Microsoft’s earlier attempts to marry mobile processors with full laptop experiences. It promises to provide better power efficiencies, reliable performance, and always-on connectivity compared to the x86 Intel-based computers that have existed so far.
Contrary to what you might expect, the new Windows 10 ARM computers don’t look hugely different from their Intel counterparts. They all support standard Windows 10 features, such as a touchscreen, Windows Hello, and pen input. HP Envy X2 looks just like the Spectre X2 detachable already available, while Asus’ NovaGo is a standard laptop that is visually indistinguishable from the rest of its lineup. Both models will launch with Windows 10 S, but can be upgraded to the full Windows 10 experience.
As a result, first impressions from the new devices aren’t hugely different from any other Windows 10 device. ARM computers aren’t noticeably thinner or lighter than others, and though they lack any sort of fans, many newer Intel computers are fanless, as well. The Envy X2 is very similar to many of the Surface Pro types of computers that already exist, while the NovaGo feels just like any other budget to midrange laptop.
On the specs front, the Envy X2 is definitely the more premium-looking of the two models, and has a 12.3-inch 1920 x 1280 pixel display with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The NovaGo can be similarly equipped with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but its fixed display is a 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel panel. The NovaGo’s screen can’t be detached, but it does rotate 360 degrees for tablet mode. The Envy relies entirely on USB Type-C ports for its input and output, while the Asus has full-size USB Type-A ports and an HDMI port.
The real differences with these computers will be felt once we’ve gotten a chance to use these computers in an everyday scenario. Qualcomm boasts battery life of up to 25 hours, plus instant power on and performance that is on par with an Intel computer. It also says that the built-in LTE connectivity will provide significantly faster speeds than other currently available LTE-equipped Windows 10 computers. To see how all of that works, we’ll have to spend more time with these machines.
This first wave of Windows 10 ARM laptops are powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor and have the X16 LTE modem for connectivity. That’s the same setup found in many Android phones released in 2017, including Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Google’s Pixel 2. Qualcomm says that devices running the just-announced Snapdragon 845 processor and X20 modem will arrive next year.
Qualcomm is hosting its annual conference this week, where we expect to hear more about Snapdragon Windows 10 devices. Stay tuned for more.
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge