Plenty of small companies run crowdfunding campaigns to raise money and generate buzz for their new products. Eve-Tech went a bit further with its new tablet. The Eve V wasn’t just crowdfunded… it was crowd-developed.
The company solicited feedback from potential customers through polls and forum posts before making most major decisions about the tablet. The end result is a tablet that looks a lot like a Microsoft Surface tablet… if Microsoft had prioritized some different features. Unlike Microsoft’s tablets, the Eve V has a Thunderbolt 3 port, for example. And the detachable keyboard cover supports Bluetooth, so you can use it whether it’s touching the tablet or not.
It’s been about a year since Eve launched its crowdfunding campaign for the Eve V tablet, and the first units are now shipping to backers.
While the tablet’s not widely available for purchase yet, Eve will hold a flash sale on December 4th starting at 2:00PM GMT (9:00AM Eastern) with a limited number of tablets up for sale for $799 and up.
Eve loaned me a pre-release Eve V tablet to review, and I’ve been using it for work and play for the past week. The model I tested is a more powerful version with a list price of $1599. While all versions have the same basic design and features, I’d expect a bit of variance in performance depending on the processor and memory configurations.
7/26/2018 update: Eve Tech has had some trouble keeping up with shipment schedules and processing refunds and warranty claims, so you may want to check out the Eve Community forum for the latest status on the company before placing an order.
Eve’s strategy of giving the people what they want by first asking what they want sounds obvious… after all, plenty of consumer electronics companies do customer research before designing new products. What they don’t usually do is conduct the whole process in the open. Online polls sometimes have unintended consequences, after all.
But Eve didn’t quite ask the community to develop a tablet from scratch. Instead the company looked at multiple options for the tablet’s display, processor, and other component and asked users which they’d prefer.
For example, the company specifically didn’t focus on high-quality cameras, because while users wanted front and rear cameras for basic usage, most folks will probably use their smartphone or other camera for taking photos most of the time, and only use the Eve in a pinch or maybe for making video calls.
And when Eve had to choose whether to use an Intel Core U-series 15 watt processor, or a more efficient 4.5 watt Core Y-series chip. The former would provide more reliable performance, while the latter would help offer longer battery life.
The community was closely divided, but Eve opted for the Y-series processors in order to offer decent overall performance, fanless cooling, and longer battery life.
While Microsoft’s higher-priced Surface tablets have 15 watt Core i5 and Core i7 chips, the Eve V is available with 4.5 watt Core M3, Core i5, or Core i7 chips which means the fastest Eve V won’t score as high as the fastest Surface in benchmarks. But in day to day performance, you’d be hard pressed to see much difference unless you run seriously CPU-intensive tasks on a regular basis.
And unlike Microsoft, Eve included a Thunderbolt 3 port, giving users the option of adding an external graphics dock if they want to boost performance by using a desktop-class GPU.
Eve makes it clear that community input went into the design of this tablet as soon as you open the box: the back of the box top is printed with the names of the “one thousand minds behind the Eve V.”
Design and Specs
Each Eve V tablet has the same basic design: it’s a tablet with a 12.3 inch, 2880 x 1920 pixel IGZO LCD display with 100 percent sRGB color calibration (although you can adjust the calibration by using the preinstalled Calman app).
The tablet has an aluminum body and it measures 11.6″ x 8.1″ x 0.35″ and weighs about 2 pounds without the keyboard cover, or about 3 pounds with the keyboard attached.
The tablet has quad speakers and dual noise-canceling microphones on the top, two full-sized USB 3.0 ports (one on either side), and two USB Type-C ports on the left side, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.
One of those smaller ports is a USB 3.0 port, while the other is a Thunderbolt 3 port. Since I don’t have any TB3 accessories, I pretty much used them interchangeably: you can plug the power adapter into either port to charge the tablet, and USB Type-C accessories will work with either port.
Power and volume buttons are on the right side of the tablet. The volume key looks like a single button, but you can press the bottom to reduce the volume and the top to raise it. Since the button barely protrudes from the side of the tablet, it can actually be a bit tough to find by just sliding your finger along the tablet without looking. It probably doesn’t help that the volume button is right above the USB port.
The power button is even tougher to find without looking, because it sits nearly flush with the edge of the tablet. The power button also doesn’t move very much when you press it. More than once I’ve thought I turned on the computer only to notice that the screen remains blank until I press the button again.
Eve also built a fingerprint sensor into the power button. It’s compatible with Windows Hello, which allows you to login by touching your finger to the sensor instead of typing a password or PIN. You can also wake the computer from sleep and login all in one step by touching the fingerprint sensor when the screen is off.
Since the tablet is thinner than your fingertip, you’ll need to register multiple parts of your fingerprint when setting up the reader. Even after doing that, I’ve sometimes been prompted to move my finger higher or lower on the reader when trying to login. When it works, it’s one of the fastest ways to login to Windows. When it doesn’t… it’s not.
On the back of the tablet there’s a kickstand that opens at up to a 120 degree angle, and which holds the tablet firmly in place at just about any angle.
On the bottom there are a set of Pogo pins for connecting the detachable keyboard cover.
The keyboard features full-sized keys with an island-style layout and comfortable key travel. I have absolutely no problem typing on this keyboard, but then I’m a touch typist.
Folks who look at the keys might notice a few oddities. First, there’s no key labeled “backspace.” Instead there’s a key called “oops!” that does exactly what you’d expect a backspace key to do.
The V on the keyboard is also a stylized upside-down triangle designed to look like the Eve V logo.
I suppose those tweaks add a bit of whimsy to the keyboard, but I’d personally feel a bit silly working in public with a machine that has an “oops!” key.
One feature I wish the keyboard had which it does not? An indicator light for the Caps Lock key. There’s currently no way to tell whether Caps Lock is on until you start typing and NOTICE THAT EVERYTHING IS CAPITALIZED.
As mentioned above, you can adjust the color of the LED lights that illuminate the keyboard, and I did actually find this to be a delightful little surprise, even if it’s one that I’m not sure I’d actually use all that often. Most people will probably pick a favorite color and leave it set. But if you find that white lights look better in some environments and blue, red, or green works better in others, it’s nice to be able to make the change.
The back of the keyboard cover, the palm rest, and the area surrounding the keys is covered in a fabric-like material that gives the machine a warm, comfortable feeling when you place your hands on the keyboard. But it is a bit of a dust magnet… and a dust trap. Not only do I keep finding white and grey specs in the black fabric, they’re also hard to remove because they settle into the sued-like fabric so that they’re hard to wipe off with a cloth.
There’s a glass-covered precision touchpad below the keyboard, and while it’s not the widest touchpad I’ve used, it’s comfortable and responsive and I had no problems using it to navigate.
Of course, this is also a tablet, so you can just reach out and touch the screen with your fingers. Since the tablet has a high-resolution display, that would be tough to do at 100% scaling, but out of the box Eve has set the scaling to 200% which means that text, graphics, and objects don’t look incredibly tiny. I’ve found that when I want to fit more content on the screen, the tablet is usable at 150% or 175% scaling, but I do have to squint a bit at those resolutions.
The Eve V also supports pen input. It comes with a Windows Ink certified N-trig pen with 2 buttons and support for 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. I’m not much of an artist and my handwriting is awful, so I haven’t really been able to put the pen to good use on those fronts. But it does make some Windows activities easier when you’re using the tablet without a mouse and keyboard.
For example, you can hover the pen over the top of the screen without touching it to view menus or other items that would normally appear if you moved your mouse cursor over them… but not if you tapped them with your finger. Holding a button on the pen and tapping the screen also works like a right-button click on a mouse.
The pen is actually a bit thicker than the tablet, so there’s no way Eve could have created a slot to let you store the pen inside the tablet when it’s not in use (unless the company opted for a different pen altogether). Instead, it’s magnetic, allowing you to just touch the pen to the right side of the tablet and have it stay in place.\
Under the hood, the tablet features a 48 Wh battery and wireless radios for 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2. The tablet has a 5MP fixed-focus rear camera and a 2MP front-camera.
Everything mentioned above is true whether you opt for an entry-level $799 tablet or a fully decked-out Eve V tablet with a $1999 price tag. So what are the differences between those models? CPU, memory, and storage. Here’s a run-down of the US and European pricing for each option:
- Intel Core M3-7Y30/8GB/128GB for $799/799EUR
- Intel Core i5-7Y54/8GB/256GB for $1199/1199EUR
- Intel Core i5-7Y54/16GB/512GB for $1499/1549EUR
- Intel Core i7-7Y75/16GB/512GB for $1599/1649EUR
- Intel Core i7-7Y75/16GB/1TB for $1999/1999EUR
The model Eve loaned me for this review is the $1599 version, and over the past week I’ve used it for some blogging, web surfing, light gaming, video watching, and document editing, among other things. So how did it perform?
The Eve V has an excellent display that looks good from just about any angle. It comes with a keyboard that’s reasonably comfortable to type on… particularly if you’re using the computer on a flat surface. And it has a pressure-sensitive pen that magnetically attaches to the side of the tablet when it’s not in use.
In other words, the most obvious competition for the Eve V is the Microsoft Surface Pro. But I should point out that I’ve never used a Surface Pro for an extended period of time, so while I can compare specs, I can’t compare performance or what it feels like to actually use the tablets.
I will say that despite having a low-power Intel Y-series processor, the Eve V felt just as fast as any laptop I’ve used in the past few years when it came to basic tasks like web browsing, document editing, or video playback.
The computer boots quickly, loads most apps in no time, and has no trouble multitasking. The 16GB of RAM and 512GB of speedy solid state storage certainly help, but the Intel Core i7-7Y75 Kaby Lake processor in the review unit I tested certainly didn’t hurt. The 4.5 watt processor may have a base clock speed of just 1.3 GHz, but it supports turbo speeds up to 3.6 GHz, allowing it to offer performance that’s close to what you’d expect from a 15 watt Core i5 or Core i7 chip… for brief bursts of activity.
When it comes to tasks that require sustained CPU or graphics power, the Eve V isn’t quite as competitive.
While the tablet was one of the fastest I’ve tested when it came to trasnscoding an audio file, it scores lower than older laptops with Core i5-6200 and Core i7-6500U chips in synethtic benchmarks like PCMark and 3DMark. And for some reason the Eve V seems to struggle with video transcoding.
It took significantly longer to transcode a 480p video than last year’s Acer Swift 7 laptop, even though that computer has a Core i5-7Y54 chip which should theoretically be a little slower.
Still, for the most part, the Eve V doesn’t feel slow, and unless you plan to use it for gaming, video editing, or other resource-intensive tasks, you probably won’t even notice that it has an Intel Y-series processor.
Speaking of gaming, it handles older titles like a champ. I spent a few hours playing StarCraft I with no problems. But when I tried running StarCraft II, the Eve V crashed… repeatedly. The program loads, but the screen goes blank a few times and then I get a blue screen of death.
Less demanding games like Lumino City and Telltale’s The Walking Dead ran without any problems. But this clearly isn’t really a machine meant for gaming… although it may perform better if you use the Thunderbolt 3 port to plug in an external graphics dock.
Since the laptop’s 2880 x 1920 pixel display has a 3:2 aspect ratio, you may end up seeing black bars over part of the screen when playing games or watching videos that weren’t designed for that aspect ratio. But generally speaking, videos look great on this tablet, even if they don’t quite fill the whole screen.
I do find it a little easier to get work done on the tablet when I switch to 175% scaling, since my workflow usually consists of viewing two web browser pages in side-by-side windows, one for researching articles on the left, and one for writing in WordPress on the right. At 200% scaling, this tablet has an effective screen resolution of 1440 x 960, which makes it a bit tough to see two full web pages side-by-side. But 175% scaling gives you something closer to an effective 1080p resolution.
The speakers are also not only loud, but surprisingly good… at least compared to what you’ll find in most thin-and-light laptops or tablets.
I mean, they’re not going to replace your HiFi stereo anytime soon, but I spent some time watching Netflix videos and didn’t feel the need to plug in headphones or external speakers to enjoy the experience.
Eve says the headphone jack also has a dedicated amplifier for improved audio quality. I plugged in a set of Sony MDR-7506 headphones and watched some Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR’s YouTube channel. They sounded pretty good, but I’m not sure if they sounded any better than they would have on a laptop or tablet without that dedicated amp.
When gaming, I noticed that the tablet got a little warm to the touch, particularly near the center of the screen and on the bottom of the tablet’s back (the part that’s covered by the kickstand when it’s retracted). But at no point did the computer get too hot to hold comfortably, and since the Eve V is fanless, it remained silent even under the heaviest of workloads.
Like most 2-in-1 tablets with a kickstand and keyboard cover design, the Eve V isn’t quite as easy to balance on your lap as an actually, well, laptop. But it can be done. When used on a flat surface, the computer feels much more laptop-like. The screen doesn’t wobble while you type and the keyboard is easy to use.
More importantly, if you want to detach the keyboard and hold the tablet in your hands, you can do that. The included pen makes interacting with legacy Windows apps without a keyboard or mouse easier, and Windows 10 includes support for inking features including a sketchpad and sticky notes.
Unfortunately, while Windows is a much more versatile platform for productivity than Android or iOS, there still aren’t as many good tablet apps for Windows as there are for those mobile operating systems. For example, one of the few things that I regularly do on a tablet is read eBooks and digital comics. Unfortunately, there’s no official Amazon Kindle app for Windows 10 tablets, so I had to install the desktop PC app and/or use the Kindle Cloud Reader app in a web browser… neither of which support Amazon’s “personal documents,” which means I couldn’t access the book I’m currently reading on my Kindle and Amazon Fire tablets.
There’s also no Marvel Unlimited or ComiXology apps in the Windows Store, and the web experiences for each aren’t exactly great in a 12.3 inch Windows tablet.
So I ended up using the Eve V as a laptop far more than as a tablet. I suspect folks who can do more with a pen than I can will probably find tablet mode useful for writing and drawing. And I can certainly see the appeal of having a laptop-like device that can convert to tablet mode when you don’t need the keyboard. At the very least, I found it handy a few times to detach the keyboard and just use the kickstand to prop up the tablet so I could watch videos.
It’s also nice to be able to use the keyboard when it’s not attached to the tablet. For example, you could use it to control a PowerPoint presentation at a meeting without needing to sit directly in front of the tablet. While this isn’t a feature I’m likely to use very often, it’s certainly nice to have the option to pair it as a Bluetooth device and use it wirelessly.
Eve says the tablet should be able to get up to 10 hours of battery life. In my experience, 6 to 9 hours seems a little more realistic, depending on usage. When I used to tablet for blogging (which involves a lot of web browsing, composing articles in WordPress, light image editing with Irfanview or GIMP, and some audio and video playback, among other things), I tended to get around 6 hours of run time. When streaming videos from Netflix, the figure was closer to 9.
I suppose you could probably get more than 10 hours of battery life if you kept the screen dim, turned off WiFi and Bluetooth, and maybe disconnected the keyboard. But generally speaking, the Eve V comes close to offering battery life that should last you most of a business day. It could certainly get you through a cross-country flight from New York to LA , assuming you don’t have a layover in Chicago.
Of course, like most thin and light computers released in recent years, the Eve V does not have a replaceable battery. So battery life will probably decline after a year or two of regular use.
With two full-sized USB ports (one on either side of the tablet) and two USB Type-C ports (both on the left, and one of which is a Thunderbolt 3 port), the tablet has more ports than a Microsoft Surface Pro, allowing you to plug in multiple accessories without using a hub. For example, I had o trouble plugging in a wireless mouse receiver and a USB flash drive at the same time.
It would be nice if the tablet also has an HDMI port, but you should be able to use one of the USB Type-C ports to connect an external display. You’ll just need a USB-C to HDMI adapter to do that.
Overall, the Eve V is a nice looking computer with a great screen, surprisingly decent speakers, and a $799 starting price that puts it squarely in Microsoft Surface Pro territory.
But Eve didn’t send me a $799 tablet to review. They sent a $1599 model that’s, quite honestly, probably overkill for most users. It’s certainly nice to have the Core M7-7Y75 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of solid state storage, but for the sort of thing I’m likely to do with this tablet, half the RAM and storage would probably be sufficient.
That said, if you wanted a Surface pro with a Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage, you’d have to pay $2199. Sure, you’d also get a higher-power processor. But for $600 less, Eve’s tablet looks pretty compelling by comparison.
Still, I have to think the sweet spot is probably either the $799 Eve V M3 (with 8GB/128GB) or the $1199 Eve V i5 (with 8GB/256GB). Both of those models have the same screen, keyboard, pen, ports, speakers, and other features that make the model I reviewed pleasant to use.
There are certainly some things I’d change if I were designing the Eve V from scratch. The fabric-covered keyboard feels nice, but keeping it clean is nearly impossible. The fingerprint sensor would probably be easier to use if it were built into the screen bezel and large enough to measure your full fingertip at once instead of sitting flush with the edge of the tablet. And it’d be nice if the volume buttons were a little more clicky, so you received clear tactile feedback when pressing them.
Still, for a tablet that was (sort of) designed by committee, Eve’s first premium Windows tablet came out surprisingly well. Apparently sometimes you can give the people what they want by asking what they want.
For now the tablet will only be available in limited quantities though. Eve is a relatively small company that doesn’t have the resources to mass produce millions of devices only to have many of them sit on a shelf. So the company will be producing tablets in batches, with the next set of tablets going up for order on December 4th.
As a non-pen user, if I had $799 (or more) to spend on a new 2-in-1 tablet, I’d probably opt for a convertible with a built-in keyboard, because a good laptop mode is more important to me than a good tablet mode. But it’d be tough to find a model in this price range that has a 2880 x 1920 pixel display, a fanless design, or a Thunderbolt 3 port, let alone all three.