Lenovo’s New Copilot+ Laptops Showcase the Future of the PC: Efficiency Shines, With AI Promising to Do the Same

  • The Recall controversy has somewhat detracted from the AI features at launch.

  • However, these PCs are a fantastic rival to both MacBooks and x86 PCs.

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This week marks the start of a new chapter for Windows. Or at least these are the words with which Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, introduced the Copilot+ PCs on his X account.

Announced in May during Microsoft’s Build 2024 conference, this new generation of PCs promised two significant changes in the segment.

First, the adoption of ARM chips with all the advantages that they brings. Second, the integration of artificial intelligence functions as part of the new Copilot+ platform created by Microsoft.

The first devices in this family hit the market this week and are now available for purchase. The requirements are clear: They must have a capacity of at least 40 TOPS for AI tasks, accompanied by a minimum of 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD.

Lenovo laptop

Several manufacturers have announced their Copilot+ PCs and have already made them available for purchase. At Xataka On, we’ve had the opportunity to test two of them:  the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7x and the Lenovo ThinkPad T14s. These are two laptops with different purposes but that share a common base: the presence of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite.

This ARM-based SoC is precisely one of the prime architects behind this theoretical new era of the PC. Others will follow suit–Intel and AMD have theirs almost ready, and others will soon follow. In any case, the commitment of manufacturers to this architecture today is remarkable. The support from manufacturers has been unprecedented, and there’s a reason for that.

It’s true. We’ve only been able to test a few features of these Lenovo devices so far, but they look promising. It seems like we now have strong competitors to Apple’s popular MacBook Air, at least in terms of power and battery life.

However, there are other areas where these products will need to continue improving.

The most obvious example is cooling: We’re discussing devices that still utilize fans to maintain low temperatures. However, this isn’t the case with the MacBook Air, which remains completely silent precisely because they don't have them.

During our time with the machines, we didn’t notice the fan starting up. However, our testing was very limited, and the environment was also noisy. This is something we’ll need to examine more closely in the future.

The Promise: Power, Fantastic Battery Life and AI

Microsoft’s premises with its new Copilot+ PCs are clear, and Lenovo seems to corroborate them. In fact, there are three main arguments for a new PC era, but uncertainty currently affects one of them.

Lenovo laptop

The other two arguments, however, seem to be well-established. The first is power, and the second is efficiency. We haven’t been able to verify this and will have to wait for an independent analysis of these two aspects. However, Qualcomm has indicated that we may see chips that could match or surpass the performance of the best that Intel and AMD (Apple) have to offer in this segment.

Regarding power, it’ll be interesting to see how these devices perform with native ARM apps and what happens with x86 apps “emulated” through the Prism layer.

One area where Qualcomm’s chips seem to be less impressive at the moment is the integrated GPU. These devices aren’t intended for gaming, but they may still allow occasional gaming with reduced resolution and level of detail.

Lenovo laptop

Regarding efficiency, the ARM architecture has been known for offering it for years, and Lenovo, like other manufacturers, is confident that the equipment offers an unprecedented level of battery life.

As for the AI functions of Copilot+, they’re currently very limited. Using the Cocreator tool, you can generate images from a sketch and a prompt, but in our brief tests, the results were disappointing. Unless you set the Creativity level to the max, which makes the result look very different from your sketch, the images aren’t very useful. However, these models are expected to improve over time.

The other AI options that Microsoft has discussed so far, such as effects for Windows Studio, real-time and live subtitles, and Automatic Super Resolution, aren’t particularly new. It seems that the commitment to AI is still a bit lackluster at the moment.

This is mainly because Microsoft has decided to exclude Recall, its controversial “photographic memory” feature, from the initial rollout due to privacy concerns.

However, Recall will be available to members of the Windows Insider program for testing and feedback. Once any potential bugs are fixed, Recall will be included in the mass release for all Windows PCs.

Lenovo laptop

We had the opportunity to attend a brief demonstration of the feature and also test it out on one of the PCs at the presentation. The function is surprisingly effective, allowing us to search for previous activities by scrolling the “memory bar” back and forth or by typing a search term directly. If Recall monitored it, it’ll find it for us.

The feature shows promise, but it’ll obviously need to address the criticism and controversy that led to its temporary removal from the standard versions of Windows on these computers.

Microsoft's AI capabilities aren’t that clear, and the company doesn’t seem to be keen on discussing other AI options, such as running models like Llama 3 on their devices. A member of the Lenovo team mentioned that it can be used without issues, but the performance still remains a mystery in this and many other cases.

All in all, these devices seem promising and have the potential to become a top choice for users. The best part is, this is just the beginning. Grab your popcorn, everyone: The PC segment is becoming more exciting.

Related | Microsoft Said Recall Only Worked on the New Copilot+ PCs. Someone Just Activated It on a Regular PC

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