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Always-Connected PCs

Posted by Michael Nelson on Mar 29, 2019 2:43:55 PM

The Always-Connected PC is an interesting new category of device that could go the way of the NetBook and Windows RT or –conversely– be the next smart phone.  In a nutshell, they’re notebooks but with three key features adopted from their smart phone cousin.  They have built in 4G LTE connectivity, they have incredible 20+ hours of battery life, and they are always on.  This means when you aren’t using it, just like with your smart phone, you’ll still receive notifications.  Also like a smart phone they’re instantly ready to go with the swipe of a finger or press of a button. 

These features take another idea from the smart phone, with one exception; they use processors by Qualcomm and a build of Windows 10 tailored specifically to ARM processors. These Always-Connected PC’s also include emulation for 32-bit x86 functions.  Now in reading this, should you be inclined to pass judgment and declare this Windows RT all over again, you should hold off. Windows RT had no x86 emulation capability and RT-available applications were limited to only Microsoft Office and a handful of hastily compiled applications. The Always-Connected PC can run anything found in the Microsoft Store including robust design and productivity software like Photoshop and EverNote.

Round one of Always-Connected PC’s was limited to three vendors only and used the Snap Dragon 845 processor. Regarding processors used among the three initial vendors, there was one exception. One OEM’s go to market strategy introduced a model with a choice of processor - ARM or Intel’s x86. Power management among the two were comparatively different with the x86 architecture consuming more power than ARM’s. The result was reduced battery life, sleep modes that withheld notifications while “sleeping” and took longer to power up.

The next round of Always-Connected PC’s is due out later this year and could sport processor technology that was hinted at during end of year shows and CES. Qualcomm has announced their first desktop class processor the Snapdragon 8cx and Intel has a new processor architecture dubbed Foveros (Greek for Innovation) that promises to shrink the footprint and lower power consumptions to the levels of ARM processors.  Microsoft’s Core OS and Windows Lite should be noted as much as device internals. Also shown by nearly every PC OEM in the last two quarters are multi-screen, foldable devices that blur the line between phones, tablets, and notebooks.

Digital transformation is changing how the world communicates and conducts business. Evolution beyond the smart phone and the notebook may be just around the corner; who predicted Apple would (once again) redefine an industry with its introduction of the iPhone? Do you know which brand will shape the devices we rely on in the future? With a vendor line second-to-none, Tech Data may be able to help.  We can help you engage your customers with a conversation about the benefits of current technology features, as well as the direction of technology tomorrow and what it means for businesses. Visit us on line at techdata.com.

 About the Author

Michael Nelson is a Sr. Systems Engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the IT channel.  20 years specifically as an Intel specialist and was inducted into the Intel Distribution Hall of Fame in 2013.

Tags: Connectivity, Always-Connected PCs, Intel X86, Snap Dragon, ARM Processor