LATE LAST year, we were invited to take part in something a bit different, and a bit special.
As a rule, we don’t work with crowdfunders until they’re near production – but this proposition was different. A 2-in-1 tablet that hadn’t yet even been designed. Its Finnish founder, Konstantinos Karatsevidis (he is Finnish, really) contacted us directly, explaining that his funders had voted for us to get one of the first reviews. We’re honoured. And here it is. And by gosh, you’re in for a treat.
The idea is simple – there’s a very broad spec, for which you put your money down. This isn’t just buying you the product, it’s buying you voting rights in the design process. Amongst the funders are those technically minded enough to turn the needs of consumers into a single machine. It’s utopian, but it’s also common sense.
After some delays caused by supplier problems, the result is here. The Eve-V (it’s V for Victory not V for 5, by the way) is a Surface Pro type affair, but offers significantly better specs, for significantly less money and with a whole bunch of features that users voted for.
The first batch of tablets has arrived, including ours. The rest (mostly those who have opted for the 1TB edition) will get theirs in the next few weeks.
So, if this is an experiment, was it successful? The short answer is yes. It worked brilliantly.
We should add before we go any further that members of the press were not included in the design process, and although we were kept updated, we were not allowed to in any way influence the finished product, and we are reviewing this device under the same terms that we would for any other device of its type.
Incisive Media reviews are impartial, honest and we never, ever, accept payment for a review.
DesignThe Eve V is a 12.3-inch tablet that Surface Pro users will be more than familiar with. It’s a little chunky for a tablet at 8.9mm but there’s a very good reason for that – the all-day battery, and USB A ports. That was a deliberate decision taken by the community. Functionality is worth a millimetre.
Equally, it’s not the lightest tablet we’ve seen either, but it still manages to feel less heavy than it looks.
The IGZO screen, which has been manually calibrated at the factory on a machine-by-machine basis is crisp and bright. Yes. You read that right. Each screen is calibrated by hand as it comes off the production line. And if you don’t like the way they’ve calibrated it, you can turn it off in settings.
The six-month delay in shipping was caused by a problem with the original screen, and the community voted to go with a better 2880×1440 screen from Sharp. It was a wise choice. There’s a bezel of around 10mm all the way around, but it’s certainly not going to offend anyone. It boasts Gorilla Glass of what Eve describes as “somewhere between 3 and 4” – but we dropped it on a hard floor twice during the review (definitely science, not idiocy, honest) and there’s not a mark on it.
The brushed black aluminium rear has no logos at all which makes it look even more sleek and sexy. In fact, there’s no mention of the tablet brand anywhere on the device. This one is for those in the know.
The only identifying marker is a tessellated ‘V’ key to represent the logo, and (in the nice touch department) the word “backspace” have been replaced by “oops!”.
The kickstand can twist around almost 140 degrees, and the keyboard is sturdy with a feeling of brushed suede. The keyboard is backlit, and you can toggle the colour of that light at will.
Among the little touches that make the Eve V so special, the keyboard cover can be used two ways – either connected via Pogo plugs (sadly they’re proprietary) or it has its own battery meaning it can be connected remotely via Bluetooth.
Connectivity & featuresThere’s 802.11ac MIMO wifi and Bluetooth 4.2. We’d like to see an NFC reader, like the Samsung Galaxy Book, and a SIM slot for LTE on future models, but they’re not exactly show stoppers – there’s plenty going on already.
As we’ve mentioned there’s 2x USB A 3.0 ports, but there’s also 2x USB-C ports, one of which is Thunderbolt 3. This paves the way for all kinds of groovy things that are usually on high-end fruit-based computing. We got some blazing fast transfers to an external USB SSD and there’s also the option to add an eGPU for pro-level gaming (we didn’t get a chance to try that but sadly).
The 3.5mm audio port has its own dedicated amplifier from TI, while two far-field mics with noise cancelling mean it can be used and for extra storage, there’s a micro SDXC slot for expansion up to the current limit of 256GB.
Our review device boasts a 7th-gen Intel i7 processor capable of a turbo speed of 3.6ghz
The 48kw battery boasts a life of up to 16 hours. We didn’t quite get that far – nine is our best so far, but you can make adjustments in Windows and the BIOS to opt for performance or battery, the logic being that allows the machine to serve two different audiences with software, not hardware. There’s also a firmware drop planned which will increase stamina still further.
Our model has a 500GB PCIe SSD aboard – but there’s a variety of permutations, and despite all of this, it’s completely fanless.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a 2MP front camera, with 5MP on the back.
SoftwareHere’s the biggie. There’s no bloatware on the Eve V. Non. Zero. Zip. It’s Windows 10 (Home or Pro are available) as Satya intended. The only addition is the app that collaborates the screen. But the BIOS is fully loaded. Eve clearly thinks that you can be trusted with the settings under the hood. Additionally, it can be partitioned and dual booted with Linux or x86 Android. In fact, someone in the community has had it running macOS already. Witchcraft! The point being that this is a machine that is like Disney’s Fantasia – it’s never finished, but it’s now out there for the general user to use, and the community to hack the crap out of, starting with a clean slate.
UsabilityWhilst the popularity of kickstands and keyboards that flap still confuses us, there’s clearly a market for them and this is easily the best we’ve seen. The keyboard has an easy action that’s a joy to type on, an intuitive layout and the gorilla glass coated trackpad is very responsive.
We do like a laptop to go on the lap, but that’s something that Eve may decide to pursue as an accessory idea.
As for the 1024 pressure pen, it’s capable of handwriting which is a pretty good test. It should certainly be good for those who do a bit of graphic design on the go. The pen sticks with magnets to the right-hand side of the device, but it doesn’t grip well and covers some ports, so we’d only advise that if you’re at a desk already. It’s one of the few design flaws…. (or perhaps we should say compromises) of the whole product and it’s pretty minor.
We’ve left one of our favourite features for last. With security being such an important part of computing, and particularly mobile computing, then Windows Hello was going to always be a must. But where do you put a fingerprint reader on a tablet without it interfering with the rest of the real estate?
We’ve not quite at under-screen yet, so the solution is genius. The fingerprint reader and the power button are one and the same. A light tap reads a fingerprint, a press yields to turn the device on and off. It’s beautiful thinking, and very, very responsive, more so than the fingerprint reader on any phone we’ve seen yet.
In shortThere’s an old saying that a camel is a “horse designed by a committee” and there’s a certain cynical logic there – the more minds work on something the more likely it is to deviate from the perfection of the vision of the auteur.
But this has not been the case with the Eve V – the auteur’s vision was 1,000 minds working together to create something great. Every detail has been honed to perfection and the result is greater than the sum of its parts. This machine isn’t for the high street – there’s too much painstaking care involved for that.
But if you can wait, catch a flash sale and wait for it to be hand-built for you, it will do everything you wanted and more.
We’re almost hoping that, given that we’ve been in touch with our Finnish friends for a while, someone will accuse us of nepotism and then try it for themselves so they can see that as the founder said to us… “the hype is real”. It really is THAT good.
The build-on-demand and sell direct model does mean you’ll be waiting, but it also slashes costs, and means that you can get the machine you wanted… no, we’ll go further, the only machine you’ll need, for about a grand less than competitors.
That’s people power.
The first flash sale of Eve V is currently scheduled for December 4th, 1400 GMT at www.eve-tech.com
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