One trend I love seeing with computers lately is battery life improvements. It used to be a feat if your laptop lasted longer than 2-3 hours, and now many laptops can go 7+ hours with continual use before needing to be charged. Naturally, processor-intensive tasks can drain the battery faster, but that’s where Windows 10 on ARM comes in.
Windows 10 on ARM processors, or Microsoft’s Always Connected PC platform, is a newcomer to the mobile computing space and one that has me quite excited. Announced a few months ago, the first Always Connected PC is now available on pre-order from HP with delivery beginning in early March.
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The Always Connected PC platform is different from a standard computer in many ways. These laptops and tablets are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, which are commonly found in phones.
Microsoft has actually released a version of Windows that is designed for these processors, which gives better RAM and CPU management among many other things.
Because this platform is ARM, and not the usual x86_64 that we’re used to, most normal apps would have needed a full redesign from the ground up to make them functional. But, Microsoft didn’t want to put that all on the developer’s shoulders and came up with a solution, though temporary I feel.
Microsoft built an emulator to allow x86 (or 32-bit) applications to run natively on the ARM platform. This means that apps like Chrome, Outlook, and even Photoshop can run natively on the Always Connected PC platform, once you upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro, that is.
HP’s first device here is the Envy X2 and is a 2-in-1 hybrid computer. With a design similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro lineup, this is more like a tablet than a laptop.
The hardware of the Envy X2 is pretty sweet though. A 12.3-inch Full HD IPS screen, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage, Snapdragon 835, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and even a microSD slot all find a home in HP’s Envy X2. Thanks to the fact that these devices use a mobile processor, there is no need for fans either, so silent computing can actually be a thing.
The speakers in the Envy X2 were designed in partnership with Bang & Olufsen, so you should have fantastic audio when watching movies on HP’s latest tablet.
Port wise, there is a USB 3.1 Type-C port, headphone jack, and nano-SIM slot. Yes, that’s right, this computer features a nano-SIM so you can connect to LTE networks like the iPad has done for years. I have long waited for this feature on Windows PCs and, though I might be alone, am super excited for it to finally be here.
Battery life is also rumored to be killer on these types of computers. HP rates the Envy X2 at up to 22 hours of use during a single charge. If it can hold close to this, or even at 75% of the claim, I’ll be stoked.
With a price tag of $999.99 shipped, the Envy X2 is in the same league as Apple’s iPad Pro, but I honestly feel it is far more capable. With the ability to run 32-bit applications, you will be able to run the full desktop version of Lightroom and Photoshop, though it will obviously be slower than regular computers.
This means it could truly be the tablet of professionals, in my opinion. I’m super stoked for what this platform could bring to computing in general. I’ve long wanted a tablet version of a desktop, that could actually hold its own. HP will start shipping units by March 9th, 2018.