The term "Always Connected PC" or AC-PC for short, was a term coined by Microsoft and used by Lenovo as early as 2017. These PCs combine the efficiency of a smartphone's processor in the body of a laptop computer.
Microsoft believes that for a PC to be considered an "Always Connected" device it must succeed in four key areas:
- Actually be "always connected." Users should never be without access to the web no matter where they are.
- Amazing battery life. Always Connected devices should have between 13 to 20+ hours of battery life and up to 20 days of standby power depending on the device being used.
- Ultraportability. These devices are thin and light with the hardware built to be able to open, connect and work anywhere.
- Anywhere access to popular Windows 10 features (Start menu, touch, ink, voice, apps).
What makes these PCs always connected?
Always connected PCs use the mobile PC platform Qualcomm Snapdragon, to provide leaner, faster, more energy efficient processing.
The concept is to have a device capable of switching between LTE and Wifi because they already have 4G/LTE technology built in. Microsoft claims that the built-in LTE Advanced maintains a continuous connection (up to 5x faster than Wifi) wherever a user is.
Who Makes Always Connected PCs?
Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung all have Always Connected PCs on the market, but Qualcomm made the biggest splash this year at Computex when it announced it has partnered with Lenovo to release the world's first ultraportable Windows 10 PC that comes with always-on 5G connectivity. Lenovo is calling the pending release "project limitless."
What Are The Advantages To Owning One Of These Devices?
Always Connected PCs are the new kid on the block. There are only a few in production at the moment, but many more of these lightweight computers are being developed now that run Qualcomm chips powering Windows 10 S.
One advantage is an easy set-up process, similar to a smartphone, with activitation being possible through Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T. Devices can be activated on the Microsoft Store, at the retail location of one of the service providers, or online where a user follows a series of prompts to activate the device themselves.
What Applicatons Are Available?
AC-PCs might have a few limitations when it comes to legacy software. These PCs come pre-installed with Windows 10 S which includes all of the popular Office apps, Mail, Calendar, the Edge browser, plus Evernote, Spotify, and anything else available from the Microsoft store.
Some accessories and apps usable on regular Windows 10 may not work or perform slower on an AC-PC than a desktop device. However, the newer models just got 64-bit support last November with Windows on ARM. Still, some antivirus programs may not be compatible. It is advisable to research the compatibility of your frequently used apps before purchasing one of these devices.
What Users Are Always Connected PCs Best For?
The sleek fan-less design makes these quiet, lightweight PCs a natural choice for students. Also anyone who works primarily inside of the Microsoft Ecosystem won't miss any of the third-party limitations of these devices.
These computers are a natural alternative to users considering a Google Chromebook or iPad Pro.
Remote workers and frequent business travelers will benefit from the extended battery life and ability to connect anywhere.
When Lenovo's 5G version becomes a reality in 2020, upload and download speeds should be comparible to fiber and way faster than Wifi connections.
While these AC-PCs may not be ideal daily drivers. They offer a more robust choice over a smartphone for connected work on the go.
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