Microsoft and Qualcomm have reaffirmed their promise to launch laptops running the Snapdragon 835 SoC (system-on-a-chip) by the end of 2017, with manufacturers including Asus, HP, and Lenovo set to feature.
Qualcomm Director of Product Management, Monte Giles, told us that the first Snapdragon-sporting laptops would launch running full-fat Windows 10, and that pricing would start from $600-800 (around £465-£620, before UK-specific taxes).
As you’d expect, they’ll come with Microsoft’s AI voice assistant, Cortana, and they’ll also support Gigabit LTE speeds.
“They’ll be the first Windows PCs that support Gigabit LTE. There will be nothing out there like it. Connectivity and battery life where we have a key advantage going forward,” Giles explained.
The brief we attended served to reinforce Microsoft’s ‘Always Connected’ mantra – and its partnership with Qualcomm.
This means laptops running under this brand will ship with super-fast 4G LTE connectivity so they’re always online.
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And contrary to previous speculation, it looks like these devices will be landing in the UK – as well as a number of key emerging markets that have skipped wired connectivity almost entirely, and instead rely mostly on high-speed wireless internet, such as that provided by 4G.
PCs with built-in mobile transceivers have been around for ages, so what’s actually new here? Good question.
The most interesting news is that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 will be powering laptops for the first time. This is big, because Qualcomm chips are based on ARM designs, which are very different to the x86 architecture used on AMD and Intel chips – the kind you’ll find in regular laptops.
Until recently, Windows didn’t work on ARM chips, but with that hurdle out of the way, it’s possible we’ll start seeing even thinner and lighter laptops with a fair amount of processing power.
We know that ARM chips are highly efficient, but until recently they haven’t had the power to handle high-end tasks. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of Windows experience you can get from a Snapdragon chip.
The other advantage could be battery life. The Snapdragon 835 uses what’s called bigLITTLE tech, where four cores are high power and four are low power. If Windows 10 can play nicely with them, we could end up with much better battery life with background tasks being relegated to the lower-powered cores when they’re not urgent.
The most attractive thing about the 835 in terms of connectivity is Qualcomm’s latest X16 LTE modem, which has a theoretical maximum speed of a gigabit, although whether you get that depends on your mobile reception.
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No actual devices have been announced yet, nor is there a launch date for the Always Connected laptops, but we’ll learn more later in the year and you can expect to see the first Qualcomm-powered laptops hit the market before Christmas.
Do 4G-enabled laptops tempt you? Let us know by tweeting @TrustedReviews.