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Eve V review: upstart Windows tablet for power users has great potential

Eve V
Eve V … what happens when geeks look at the Microsoft Surface Pro and ask for more features. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

On paper the Eve V reads like it should be the king of Windows tablets – a Surface Pro but with more ports, longer battery life and more features.

What makes the V more surprising is that it actually exists. It is not only a crowdfunded machine but also crowdsourced, meaning that, in Eve Tech’s own words, it was created by “over 1,000 minds working together as one”.

With far too many cooks in the kitchen, if that doesn’t sound like a recipe for disaster, I’m not sure what does. But remarkably Eve has succeeded in not only producing a piece of crowdfunded hardware that works and is being delivered to backers, but it isn’t terrible – in fact it is rather good.

2-in-1

eve v review
The kickstand on the Eve V sturdily holds the tablet in most viewing positions. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Eve hasn’t reinvented the wheel. It would be fair to say the V is what happens when geeks look at the Microsoft Surface Pro and ask for more features.

It’s a 2-in-1 Windows tablet with a detachable keyboard. Like the Surface Pro the keyboard attaches via magnets to the bottom, snapping into place. The V runs your choice of Windows, but I would recommend Windows 10 Pro, because it has Microsoft’s Bitlocker drive encryption, so if the worst happens your data has a bit more protection from thieves.

On the back there’s a kickstand that holds the machine in place. It feels sturdy, although with a bit more flex and less range of movement than the current Surface Pro.

The 12.3in screen is genuinely great. It’s sharp, very bright, has great viewing angles and accurate colour reproduction. The tablet is pretty heavy at 925g and weighs more than 1.3kg with the keyboard attached, which is about the weight of a premium 13in laptop.

The general build quality is very good – much better than you might expect from something crowdfunded – with a sturdy aluminium body, and the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass.

Having said that, I have had several hardware problems. The first test unit I received ended up with a crack dissecting the screen from corner to corner following a trip in a laptop backpack with the keyboard shut over the screen like a laptop, which I could not explain. It’s the same backpack I’ve used to transport a dozen different tablets and laptops without issue, including two different Surface Pros, and wasn’t dropped or subjected to any trauma.

The second test machine had what I can only assume was a faulty graphics card. The third machine works perfectly, but has a small crack in the bottom right corner of the glass screen, which again, appeared after a trip in the backpack. Since that crack appeared, everything else has been fine and the screen works as designed.

The ports, kickstand, buttons, keyboard and microSD card slot are all well made, feel durable and have had no issues. The testing machines are some of the first Eve produced, but the issues with the glass have left me with some doubts over its durability.

Specifications

  • Screen: 12.3in LCD 2880 x 1920 (??? PPI)
  • Processor: Intel Core m3, i5 or i7 (7th generation “Y” series)
  • RAM: 8 or 16GB
  • Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front-facing
  • Connectivity: Wifi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, 2xUSB 3.0, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, headphones, TPM, microSD
  • Dimensions: 295.9 x 205.3 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight: 925g (1,335g with keyboard)

Fanless design with low-power chips

eve v review
The microSD card slot is hidden under the kickstand. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Eve V has your choice of seventh generation Y-series Intel Core processors, which are the lower power versions of the U-series Core i5 and i7 processors you find in most laptops and the Surface Pro.

The Y-series processors are less powerful than the U-series, although can hit similar speeds in short bursts, and are meant to offer longer battery life and run cooler, allowing fanless designs.

The Core i7 in the test unit performed much better than expected. It chewed through word processing, browsing and graphics editing without issue. It could also power a 4K display at 60Hz without breaking a sweat and ran completely silently, only occasionally getting a bit hot when really working hard.

A little slowdown was noticeable when working with very large images, or when trying to browse intensive websites. Ironically Eve’s own site was one of those.

It won’t win any performance awards, professional video editors will want to look elsewhere and gaming might be a bit of a stretch for anything modern, as the included graphics with the Y-series chips is a bit of a weak area. But for a general computer it performs very well.

Battery life

eve v review
Eve V can handle nine hours of Netflix. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Battery life on the V was mixed. It was more noticeably affected by running Chrome than most machines. With 20 or so tabs open in Chrome, plus Windows Mail, Typora, Evernote and Spotify all running, the V could be dead in four hours with the screen set to recommended brightness.

With the same programs open, plus 40 minutes of graphics editing in Affinity Photo, but only four or so tabs open in Chrome, the V routinely lasted just under eight hours.

Simply watching stored video on the V, such as downloaded Netflix shows with Bluetooth headphones attached, it would last just under nine hours – enough for three movies or a flight over the Atlantic.

Ports

eve v review
The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner above the volume button and a full-sized USB port on the ride side, with two USB-C, a USB-A and headphones ports on the left. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The V has an excellent array of ports, including two traditional USB ports (one either side), two USB-C ports, one of which is also a Thunderbolt 3 port, a headphones socket with very powerful output (easily enough to drive very large headphones) and a microSD card slot on the back under the kickstand.

It can be charged via either USB-C port by any USB-Power Delivery charger, meaning there’s no need for any proprietary charger or connector.

Keyboard and pen

eve v review
The two-button stylus clips to the side when on a desk, but the magnets aren’t strong enough to keep it in place when travelling. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

One of the big pluses of buying the V over most competitors is that it comes with both a keyboard and a stylus in the box.

The stylus is a basic pressure-sensitive type that works perfectly well. It doesn’t have Bluetooth, and must be pretty close to the screen to be picked up (and so turn on palm rejection). Input lag is more noticeable with the V stylus than the Surface Pen on the Surface Pro, but it isn’t too bad.

The biggest issue with the stylus is that it only very weakly magnetically attaches to the right side of the screen. It keeps the pen from getting lost while being used on a desk, but it immediately comes off if you try and transport the V anywhere with the pen on the side.

The keyboard is great. It has a similar look and feel to Microsoft’s Type Cover, which is a very good thing. The keys feel solid when pressed, while the deck is pretty rigid providing a good, laptop-like typing experience.

It has its quirks, such as the backspace key being labelled “oops!” and the letter V key labelled with the V’s logo. The keys are backlit with various lighting colours available. There’s no print screen button, which probably isn’t a deal breaker for most, but makes taking screenshots a little harder.

The precision glass trackpad is great and relatively large for this type of machine.

The keyboard magnetically attaches to the bottom of the V with a reassuring snap, but also works as a Bluetooth keyboard when detached.

Observations

eve v review
The keyboard connects via Bluetooth when detached for use away from the screen, handy for controlling the V when hooked up to a TV. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
  • The speakers in the top are loud but can be a bit shrill
  • The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner, which is great when it works, but sometimes it locks up, which appears to be a driver issue
  • The V has markedly improved with software updates since I have been testing it
  • The screen comes calibrated out of the factory, but that calibration is lost if you install your own version of Windows on it (as I did)
  • Occasionally Windows Mail straight up loses any trace of my email accounts, meaning I have to add them back in – not a problem I’ve had with any other Windows 10 machine
  • The black paint scratches quite easily revealing the aluminium beneath

Price

The Eve V comes in several different processor and storage configurations and includes a keyboard and stylus in the box. To actually buy one you’ll have to wait for a “flash sale”, and there is expected to be one this week.

The V starts at €959 for the Core m3 version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Core i5 (Y-series) version costs €1,199 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs or €1,549 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The Core i7 (Y-series) version costs €1,649 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage (as tested) or €1,999 with 1TB of storage.

For comparison, Microsoft’s Surface Pro (2017 model) starts at £799. A Core i7 (U-series) version with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage costs £2,149 without a keyboard and stylus.

Verdict

Against the odds, Eve actually managed to produce a Windows tablet that is really quite good. It’s clear that it’s still a bit of a work in progress, with software updates making improvements to things such as stylus lag and audio quality in the last month. The hardware troubles I’ve had are also a little worrying.

But the V has the potential to be a really great machine. It performs well, the screen is great, it has the right number and combination of ports, a good design and solid battery life if you limit Chrome a bit. The keyboard is also great, which makes a big difference, plus you get a perfectly usable stylus in the box and it’s competitively priced.

Right now I would describe it as a power user machine – one for someone who isn’t afraid to get stuck in on Eve’s community forum and get their hands dirty with drivers and the like as the firm finesses the software.

It’s so close to being something really special that I hope Eve can iron out the few problems.

Pros: great screen, good kickstand, fingerprint scanner, microSD card reader, silent, attractive, great keyboard, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 and USB-A ports

Cons: questions over screen durability, still a work in progress, relatively difficult to actually buy, unknown brand, Y-series Intel processors with weaker graphics

eve v review
The oops! key is one of the quirks on the V that shows it was made by a bunch of enthusiasts, rather and a corporation. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

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This article titled "Eve V review: upstart Windows tablet for power users has great potential" was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Monday 22 January 2018 10.46am

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