Microsoft and Qualcomm Unveil LTE-Enabled Always Connected PCs

With so many people using tablets and smartphones these days, there is a real chance that laptops will become obsolete in the future. If it is up to Microsoft and Qualcomm, that will not happen anytime soon. More specifically, both companies announced their Always Connected line of personal computers. It is an interesting spin on things, although it remains to be seen whether or not there is even a market for such devices.

Always Connected PCs are an Interesting Development

While it may be convenient to use a smartphone or tablet for productivity purposes, they will never truly replace laptops. The one downside most laptops have is that their battery life is abysmal, and getting online without a WiFi hotspot can be very cumbersome. There are always ways to circumvent these problems, but for the average consumer, they are massive drawbacks. Microsoft and Qualcomm acknowledge that something will need to change in this regard as well.

Their new line of personal computers is known as the Always Connected series. These devices run Windows 10, can be turned on in mere seconds, and will always have an LTE connection ready to be used. More importantly, their battery life is measured in days, rather than hours. On the surface, there is nothing to dislike about these devices, as they seem to check a lot of the right boxes for people who travel often. Moreover, some of the largest manufacturers of computers will start building hardware for this new line of products, which should introduce some competition in this market.

At the same time, it feels as if this has been tried before. Microsoft attempted to introduce people to ARM devices running Windows through its Surface RT tablets. Sadly, those tablets never amounted to much, as they were expensive and didn’t offer the solutions most people were looking for. It is commendable to see Microsoft make another run at this market without creating tablets this time around. Instead, the Always Connected PCs look and feel like small laptops, which is a good start.

Powering a Windows 10 computer with a Qualcomm chipset is not a new idea either. Microsoft hinted at such a development over a year ago, although not much news had come of it. The only major development was a demo with Win32 apps running on this hardware, but things went pretty quiet afterward. Although the new devices are still not production-ready, they will come to market during the spring of 2018. Prices have not been announced at this time, which is only to be expected.

According to Microsoft, the devices’ selling points include the screen, which turns on instantly. This seems to confirm these devices lack a sleep mode, yet that shouldn’t impact battery life in a negative manner. Having built-in LTE is also interesting, although it remains to be seen if this is a feature consumers will readily use. Moreover, charging these devices once a week should be more than enough. All of these points sound great, but we will have to await real-life tests to make sure the devices can deliver on their promise.

As the devices will natively support Win32 apps, most users should have no issues running their favorite tools. They have support for Paint, Office, Minecraft, and pretty much anything else one can think of. The default browser is Edge, although most people will probably replace it with something else in the future. The initial operating system will be Windows 10 S, although an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro will be offered free of charge. That’s a nice gesture by Microsoft, as Windows 10 S will be far too limited in its appeal for a lot of people.