Hands-on with the Asus NovaGo
The Asus NovaGo was the first Always On PC we got our hands on. Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 mobile chipset and running Windows 10, Asus makes some big promises for the NovaGo, including battery life that lasts 22 hours of video playback and gigabit-class 4G connectivity.
Also impressive is that the NovaGo promises to be very reasonably priced. Australian availability and prices are yet to be announced, but the US prices will be US$599 for the model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and US$799 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB when they’re released early next year.
Design and performance
Physically, there’s little difference between the NovaGo and a decent Intel-powered Windows 10 flip-over convertible laptop. It’s reasonably light and slender (at 1.4kg and 15mm thick), feels well-made and has a good quality keyboard that – from our admittedly short time with it – felt nice to type on.
The touchpad and 13.3in touchscreen seemed responsive enough, too – and there’s also stylus support here – and, in fact, the whole Windows 10 experience was pretty nippy. That’s impressive given this is running on a smartphone chipset.
We weren’t able to run our benchmarks, so the jury is still out on how the Snapdragon 835 compares with Intel’s chips and how it handles heavy-duty multitasking and applications, particularly non-natively coded apps. But on the upside, even though it is a mobile chipset, it has a octo-core processor with four cores running at 2.45GHz and four at 1.9GHz, and graphics that support smartphone screen resolutions that are higher than the NovaGo’s Full HD.
Alongside a dual-purpose SIM tray, which will take both nano SIM and microSD cards for storage expansion, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, a full-sized HDMI output and a pair of full-size USB ports.
Battery life and connectivity
The key differences between the NovaGo and regular Windows laptops are twofold. First, always-on connectivity courtesy of the Snapdragon 835 chipset and, thanks to a 4X4 MIMO antenna array, gigabit-class 4G connectivity – albeit with mobile networks that support these speeds. And second, battery life that’s potentially three to four times as long as an Intel-powered machine.
Asus is claiming the NovaGo will last for 22 hours during video playback and will deliver 30-days on standby. That could seriously challenge the domination that Intel holds over the Windows laptop market. If accurate, that video playback number compares very favourably with most Intel-based laptops that struggle to get past ten hours.
One thing to note here before you get too excited, is that the NovaGo won’t run full Windows 10 out of the box. Instead, you get Windows S – just like the Microsoft Surface Laptop. The good news is that, just like that laptop, you get a free, time-limited upgrade to Windows 10 Pro as long as you redeem that offer by a certain date (30 September 2018 in the US).
And while Windows and its core apps may run smoothly, applications that require emulation to run, may not. Time will tell.
With prices ranging from US$599 to US$799, the Asus NovaGo looks like it may well be a tempting purchase when it eventually reaches Australian shores.
It looks and feels like a proper laptop – performance, from first impressions, seems responsive, and battery life ought to be awesome as well.
We’ll review the NovaGo in depth when it comes to Australia.
Key specifications: 13.3in 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen; 2.45GHz/1.9 GHz octo-core Snapdragon 835 processor; 4GB or 8GB of RAM; 64GB or 256GB of UFS 2.0 storage; 802.11ac (2x2 MIMO) and Gigabit LTE (4x4 MIMO) connectivity; 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A and 1 HDMI ports, Nano SIM and MicroSD card slots; 1.4kg; Windows 10 S.
Next: hands-on with the HP Envy x2