After briefly appearing during February in a limited quantity, HP’s first Windows on ARM PC, the Envy x2, is finally back to pre-order for $999. It’s the result of a new relationship between Qualcomm and Microsoft to provide Windows 10 devices relying on Qualcomm’s ARM-based processors. It’s a departure from using the typical x86-based processors manufactured by Intel and AMD, creating a new “always connected” family of products.
HP’s new laptop sports a 12.3-inch touch-enabled IPS screen with a 1,920 x 1,280 resolution. Backing this screen is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor — not its newer 845 chip — that is typically associated with smartphones and tablets. It includes an integrated Qualcomm Adreno 540 graphics component — you won’t find a discrete graphics chip here.
Outside of the processor aspect, the Envy x2 features 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 128GB of SSD storage, and a 49.33WHr battery promising up to 22 hours of mixed use (up to 19 hours of video playback). That’s the big selling point with these new always-connected PCs: The promise of crazy-long up-times on a single charge. The other selling point is the hardware powering the always-connected claim.
As the specifications show, the laptop ships with Wireless AC (2×2) and Bluetooth 5 connectivity. But it also sports an integrated LTE modem, thus no matter where you drag the laptop, it will have a connection to the internet where service is available. It supposedly moves seamlessly from Wi-Fi to 4G LTE and back again without interrupting your Netflix or Facebook trolling addiction.
Port-wise, the laptop’s complement is rather scarce, packing one Micro SD card reader, one USB-C 3.1 Gen1 port, one USB-A 3.1 Gen1 port, and a headphone/microphone combo jack. You will also find a Nano SIM card slot for your 4G LTE connection provided only by Sprint or Verizon Wireless here in the United States.
HP’s new laptop is very Surface-like, measuring just 0.27 inches thick. Likewise, it weighs a mere 1.54 pounds without the backlit keyboard, and 2.67 pounds with the keyboard attached. HP’s Wide Vision 5MP camera faces the user while a 13MP camera resides on the back. The device ships with a stylus that slips into a holder on the right side of the keyboard.
“Mobile intensive customers want a versatile device that keeps up with their busy lives and lets them be connected to everything that matters when they need to,” HP’s Kevin Frost said in a statement. “The Envy x2 is designed to go everywhere.”
Qualcomm and Microsoft introduced their always-connected initiative in December 2017. It’s Microsoft’s official return to ARM-based PCs after abandoning its Windows RT operating system due to poor reception and cross-platform app headaches. Microsoft’s new Windows on ARM should be a more mature platform.
But there are limitations to these always-connected PCs as seen with Microsoft’s pulled list for developers. For one, you can’t run 64-bit apps created for AMD- and Intel-based machines. Apps may also render a user interface built for smartphones, render the screen in the wrong orientation, or completely fail to start.
HP’s Snapdragon-powered Envy x2 ships on May 8.