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"Always online" has limitations



Speaking of Snapdragon 835: How does a smartphone CPU behave when operating a Windows 10 laptop? Well, it depends.

Analyzing the power of NovaGo is a complicated task. The typical benchmarks we use, like PCMark, do not work on the ARM-based emulator. And frankly, I'm not sure if it's fair or logical to use the Snapdragon 835 against high-end laptop chips like Intel's Core i7 or i5. But I say that: In general, I have encountered a few delays in the NovaGo. Sometimes it stuttered when loading a website that is animation-intensive, and it slows down when more than three dozen Chrome tabs are open. But I was also able to work with Photoshop CC while I wrote this script and opened Audacity in the background with little delay.

Let us be very clear what kind of software that is. By default, the NovaGo runs Windows 1

0 S, which limits the apps you can install to what you can find in Microsoft's Store. But from now until 2019 Microsoft offers all connected PCs a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, to which my test device came. It lets me download and install 32-bit apps like Audacity and Photoshop CC. It's a bit of a hassle to upgrade, but you should, as it will give you access to more apps.

Even after the upgrade, you can not use 64-bit programs and even 32-bit programs. Bit-apps accessing the kernel drive because the emulator developed for these ARM-based systems can not handle them. While I was able to install Steam, it was difficult for me to find compatible games. Most of the programs I use for my work have a 32-bit version that I could run, although Photoshop Elements and OpenVPN do not. With the upgrade, the Windows-on-Snapdragon ecosystem is a little more powerful than Chrome OS … something. Depending on your workflow, this could be a deal breaker.

Nevertheless, the NovaGo has its advantages. The best thing about this laptop is the connectivity. It's a pleasure to unfold the notebook in a taxi or restaurant and not set up a hotspot or ask for the Wi-Fi password to connect. After a while, I started taking my Internet connection for granted, which is incredibly liberating. Remember to add the price of a data plan for budgeting for this device – LTE is not free.

Another benefit of NovaGo resemblance to a smartphone is what Qualcomm and Microsoft call "always on." The notebook always wakes up a little faster than other ultra-portable PCs, making it a bit more smartphone-like.

Incidentally, you can also use the NovaGo as a tablet or support it in tent mode, thanks to its sturdy 360-degree hinge. I rarely use it in any other than a traditional laptop, but for those who want to give presentations at the desk, this is convenient.

During our battery test, which recorded a local Full HD video, the NovaGo made a respectable impression 14 hours before getting out. This is lower than the promised 20 hours and worse than the Surface Book 2, Surface Laptop and Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon and Yoga. But remember, hundreds of dollars are cheaper.

Competition

Here at Engadget, we often do not check laptops in the NovaGo price range, making it difficult to find comparable systems. In addition, the NovaGo is a unique beast – at least now. The only other connected PC currently available is the HP Envy x2, which is smaller, lighter and costs $ 400 more. For your money you get a pen and a removable backlit keyboard. But that's really all we can say so far.

Consumers can already order one, but we have not yet received our reviewer and can not guarantee it. But since the HP laptop also uses the same ARM-based Snapdragon 835 CPU as the ASUS, it's safe to say you'll both have the same compatibility challenges.

If you're comfortable with a more traditional laptop, consider an upcoming Intel embedded eSIM system, such as Acer's Swift 7 or Lenovo's Thinkpad X1 series. Although we tested the latter, none of these laptops seem to have connectivity enabled.

Then there are mid-range laptops or even low-cost devices like the HP Stream series or Chromebooks that offer limited operating systems for less than $ 500 prices. But the NovaGo easily surpasses that of connectivity and battery life.

Wrap up

The NovaGo is a respectable debut for Windows on Snapdragon – it lasts a long time, offers fast connections almost everywhere and works well for the price. But the hardware could definitely be better – a brighter display and better placed speakers would be welcome upgrades.

Ultimately, my biggest problem with the NovaGo is the app compatibility or lack thereof. While I did not have any major problems, I knew that I might not be able to install something that I needed to constantly look for a stalker.

It might be better to wait for one year for the connected PC ecosystem One of the outstanding features – eSIM support from carriers – is not yet live. It will also give developers time to make more compatible apps (if they want to).

At the moment, I'm having trouble seeing NovaGo's appeal as a primary workhorse, but it's more than just a secondary laptop for productivity on the move. It is a brave first attempt by ASUS, Qualcomm and Microsoft, which hopefully will improve in the second round.


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