Promised long battery life. LTE connectivity.
We don't know what the service plans are yet. Performance with old-school X86 apps is worrying.
- Bottom Line
The Asus NovaGo starts off Qualcomm's Windows-on-Snapdragon efforts in a low-key way.
Asus' NovaGo (TP370QL) starts Snapdragon 835 PCs on a pretty basic note. A convertible rather than a detachable PC like the HP Envy X2, the NovaGo feels like an inexpensive laptop with a not particularly fast, but functional processor. The question will be whether Qualcomm's radical battery and connectivity promises pay off.
The NovaGo is a pretty standard-sized 13.3-inch laptop, 0.6 inches thick with a 1080p screen and weighing 3.06 pounds. The island-style keyboard is comfortable, and keys have plenty of throw, but they have a little bit of wobble around their center point. The trackpad works well for both single and multiple-finger gestures, and there's a tiny fingerprint sensor in the upper right hand corner of the trackpad.
As a convertible, you can fold the NovaGo into Tent mode and all the way back into Tablet mode, which kills the keyboard. Our demo unit had a stylus with it, but Asus said that was a standard capacitive stylus, without pressure or tilt sensitivity.
On the side, there are two USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI port and a MicroSD card slot. There are no USB-C ports.
Not Windows RT All Over Again
The real question, of course, is what a difference the 2.21GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor makes. The NovaGo will come with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for $599, as well as an 8GB/256GB config for $799; here at the demo, we saw a 6GB/128GB model which won't go to retail.
The Snapdragon in here runs ARM-optimized Windows Store apps natively, but it also runs Win32 apps in emulation. By default, the NovaGo comes with Windows 10 S, a crippled version of Windows that will only download apps from the Microsoft Store. That sounds a little like Windows RT, Microsoft's failed version of Windows which only ran Windows Store apps. But unlike with RT, you can unlock 10 S into a full version of Windows 10 Pro — which we did — and start installing arbitrary Windows apps, which we also did.
We had time to install two apps: the old, but relatively light-duty Audacity audio editor, and the new, very heavy and complex Firefox Quantum browser. Audacity installed quickly and ran smoothly, although the screen image looked oddly antialiased. It wasn't disturbing, just a little odd.
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Firefox didn't work out so well. The app froze on first run, and had to be restarted a few times before it worked. Scrolling and page loads in Firefox were also less responsive than I'd have liked. The internet connection in the demo room wasn't ideal, but it's definitely something to look into further.
The NovaGo has both eSIM and nanoSIM slots to support its gigabit LTE modem. According to Asus reps, it will have gigabit support for all four major US networks. We haven't heard anything about the service plans yet, though, so we're concerned.
Asus also claims 22 hours of battery life, which is a lot — that's one of the supposed advantages of the Snapdragon. HP claims 20 hours of battery life for the Envy x2. That battery life may be much shorter if you're running old x86 apps.
Yes, we envy the HP Envy x2 more than the Asus NovaGo; it has verve, style, and detachability. The NovaGo has gigabit LTE, but that isn't that much faster than the HP's 800Mbps. We'll see more when we get the laptop in for review.
PCMag.com's lead mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, has reviewed hundreds of smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 9 years with PCMag. He's the head of our Fastest Mobile Networks project, one of the hosts of the daily PCMag Live Web show and speaks frequently in mass media on cell-phone-related issues. His commentary has appeared on ABC, the BBC, the CBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and in newspapers from San Antonio, Texas to Edmonton, Alberta. Segan is also a multiple award-winning travel writer, having contributed… More »
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