Microsoft and its PC-making partners really want “Always Connected PCs” to be a thing. That’s the label Microsoft applies to Windows 10 computers with built-in support for 4G LTE and the ability to receive data even when the system is sleeping.
In other words, they’re PCs with smartphone-like features including the ability to receive email messages, news alerts, and other updates even when the screen is off.
There’s just one problem: always-connected capabilities have an always-accruing impact on your wallet, because you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to your wireless carrier to use them. That’s usually on top of whatever you’re already paying for your smartphone data plan.
Now Sprint is making things a bit easier by offering unlimited 4G LTE data for free to customers who buy an Always Connected PC with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor… or free until the end of the year, anyway.
On the one hand, I’m kind of excited at the idea of free data as a way to encourage adoption of always-connected PCs. On the other hand, Sprint is only really offering 6 months worth of data, which means you’re only really going to save $60 – $90 unless the carrier extends the promotion.
After December 31st, 2018 the price goes up to $15 per month for data or $10 per month if you sign up for automatic payments.
The deal is also only good for the first three Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs: the HP Envy x2, Asus NovaGo and Lenovo Miix 630.
Unfortunately, the deal does not apply to Intel-powered computers with cellular connectivity, which is disappointing because initial reviews suggest that while Snapdragon-powered PCs get long battery life, they’re much more sluggish than Intel-powered machines and there are some applications and features that simply aren’t available.
I like having built-in LTE in my portables (I’m even willing to pay for data so that I don’t have to tether my phone) but I don’t see the advantages of keeping the Internet connection alive while in sleep. Especially when you have a smartphone that’s probably easier to reach when it comes to being notified of emails and other alerts. When you need a physical keyboard to type out a proper email response, waking your computer and downloading your latest emails is pretty quick.
With these first set for ARM devices and their prices, I’m struggling to justify buying them. These devices seem to bring together the worst parts of budget and premium PCs without compelling advantages to either categories.
It seems someone/some people at MS forced the engineers to release something that’s just not ready for market. I feel there’s still a lot of potential here though. I hope the inevitable failure of this initial batch of full Windows on ARM that’s clearly in the beta stage doesn’t stop MS and their partners from continuing their development.
They failed in concept. Right out of the boardroom they failed. Rather than take a target price and go from there, they decided to premium everything. Additionally they failed to realize the selling points they are bring out in 2018 is something more for 2015. ARM in a laptop should be selling crazy battery life but even then, they can’t deliver it. I would argue these barely need the data because .0001% of people can justify a data plan or added expense when they will have their data connected smartphone with them 99.9999% of the time. The executives blew it on this one. Visionists? LOL.
Not that I’d get these gimped PCs just for temporary data but what are the limits to this “unlimited” data plan?
I’m willing to beta test MS’ new take on Windows on ARM if OEMs came out with smaller devices with 8″ – 10″ screens but still with a (likely cramped but okay to me) keyboard. There’s a reason why I visit Liliputing after all.
Even when compared to similar x86 devices, the current wave of ARM devices are just as thick and heavy, slower and have less ports. I’m guessing the initial market for these would be a niche within the niche of tech enthusiasts but, to me, there still aren’t enough benefits/uniqueness to offset the negatives keeping that niche very small.
I doubt free data from Sprint until the end of this year is enough. I’m guessing non-tech enthusiast consumers are just going to pass these up based on price.
It’ll be like Windows RT again. The non tech enthusiast, average consumer, will get confused about the difference between WoA and normal laptops/tablets. When they find out there’s many programs and devices that won’t work on WoA, they get frustrated and return it. From there, they’ll just either get a normal laptop or they’ll switch to Macs entirely. That’s exactly what happened with Windows RT in the early days and it’ll likely happen to WoA again unless Microsoft can somehow achieve 100% compatibility with all 32 and 64 bit x86 programs and drivers seamlessly without the consumer noticing the difference.
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