This week at CES 2018, Lenovo became the third PC manufacturer to announce a Snapdragon 835-powered Windows 10 PC. The device is a tablet that includes an attachable keyboard and pen support.
As usual, Lenovo focused on its new lineup of ThinkPads this year at CES, but it did have one consumer product to show off: the Miix 630. It’s the first ARM-powered Windows 10 PC from the manufacturer, and indeed Lenovo became only the third partner to produce a Windows device with a Snapdragon 835 under the hood, the first two being HP and ASUS.
The largest benefit to an ARM processor in a PC is battery life, and particularly standby time. ARM chips use big. LITTLE architecture, using more powerful cores for tasks that require it, and efficient cores for everything else. While the PC is in standby mode, tasks like syncing notifications won’t use as much power. This is how your phone already works.
Lenovo says that the Miix 630 provides up to 20 hours of active usage, and the standby time should be weeks. The real question is how much the active usage – and performance – is affected when running Win32 apps instead of UWP apps, which are usually compiled to run on ARM natively. Obviously, emulation would use more power.
Unfortunately, that’s still the question that none of us have an answer to. I asked, and couldn’t get any specifics from Lenovo, so we’ll all have to wait until the spring when these devices hit the market.
In terms of form factor, the Miix 630 is very similar to HP’s Snapdragon-powered PC, the Envy x2. The Miix is a tablet, with an attachable keyboard cover that includes a kickstand, just like the Envy. Obviously, the kickstand can place the display at any angle.
The display is a 12.3-inch 1920×1280 LCD, and while it looks great, the bezels seem exceptionally wide. I’m not sure why this is, but it does make the front of the device feel a bit dated.
The camera at the top of the device does have an IR camera beside it, which is used for Windows Hello facial recognition. This is a feature that I look for on any new PC, as it just makes sense for the device to recognize me when I’m sitting in front of it.
It also includes a pen, as you’d expect from any modern Windows tablet. The pen supports up to 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and unfortunately, there’s no tilt support.
The keyboard magnetically props itself up against the device, and it feels exceptionally sturdy. It actually reminds me of the attachable keyboard that came with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet last year, and that’s a good thing. The keys are very comfortable to type on, and it doesn’t feel shaky like you might find with attachable keyboards from other PC manufacturers.
Windows on ARM, or Windows on Snapdragon as Qualcomm calls it, is part of a broader Always-Connected PC initiative by Microsoft. That means that even with the battery life benefits that come with ARM, you’ll also get cellular connectivity at up to gigabit speeds with the Snapdragon X16 modem. Always-Connected PCs can be Intel-powered as well.
The device runs Windows 10 S, and as is the case with all 10 S devices, you’ll have the option of upgrading switching to Windows 10 Pro for free for a period. What’s interesting is that the free upgrade switch offer doesn’t end on a static date, like it does with the Surface Laptop. It ends 180 days from the date of product activation, so you don’t have to worry about a fee if you want Windows 10 Pro.
Lenovo says that the Miix 630 will arrive in the second quarter of 2018, starting at $799.99.
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