The first ever crowd-sourced and crowdfunded 2-in-1 laptop tablet. The most versatile computer device … the Microsoft Surface killer.
That’s what Eve says about its new computer, one of the most ambitious crowdfunding tech projects in recent memory, an endeavor so successful that it raised over $1.4 million on Indiegogo against a goal of $75,000. It’s typical for projects like this to quickly disappear into the ether. But Eve actually followed through, and the Eve V Tablet is here in the flesh.
A crowd of 1,000 people collaborated on the design. But when has the crowd ever done anything right? In attempting to design the perfect 2-in-1, here’s what the crowd came up with.
First, they wanted a killer screen. With 2,880 x 1,920-pixel resolution, the 12.3-inch touchscreen indeed offers dazzling brightness, besting everything else in the category that I’ve reviewed. Based on Sharp’s lower-power IGZO system, Eve says every panel is individually color tuned and calibrated before it leaves the factory floor. Sure enough, the colors look fantastic.
Battery life was another key issue for the Eve crew, and my tests set total running time at nearly 7.5 hours, an impressive (but not quite record-setting) benchmark in the field. I can’t see anyone going hungry for juice with this system.
Another swell idea: Eve’s keyboard has Bluetooth and an integrated battery, so while it can be docked magnetically to the connector on the underside, it doesn’t have to be. Backlit with a choice of seven colors and covered completely in “Alcantara” fabric (a type of microfiber), it’s a snazzy and unusual attachment. But while Eve says its goal was to provide a good typing experience, the keyboard itself offers minimal travel from some very flat keys, and I found touch-typing to be less than ideal.
And now for the bad news.
“Performance was a must!” exclaims Eve, and although I was provided with a relatively high-end version of the V for review, performance simply did not impress. The specs on this unit include a (slow) Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, with excellent connectivity courtesy of two standard USB ports, two USB-C ports, and a microSD card reader squirreled away beneath the kickstand. Sadly, performance didn’t come close to keeping up with other devices on the market with similar specs, falling behind the average of the field by 20 to 30 percent on both general business tasks and graphics-oriented tests. The performance gap probably won’t be a deal-breaker for everyone, but it’s disconcerting—and noticeable in actual use—given the system’s relatively high-end specs.
More troubling than that, however, were a considerable number of stability problems I encountered during my work with the V—easily more than I’ve experienced on any other device I’ve tested in the last few years. The machine would sometimes hang indefinitely on boot-up, apps wouldn’t run at all, and, on one memorable occasion, the entire machine freaked out when I attempted to reattach the keyboard, requiring a reboot… which then cause it to hang indefinitely. It’s likely that many of these problems are related to this being a first-generation product (crowdsourced from 1,000 people, remember), and that more than a few kinks may well remain in the system. For what it’s worth, the development community continues to seem robust, and fixes are likely to be available for those willing to invest some time in the Eve message boards—and to install a bunch of patches.
There’s a lot to like here, including some real innovation like a power button that has a built-in fingerprint reader, or the inclusion of dual far-field microphones to improve videoconferencing. There’s even a stylus in the box. The speakers are incredibly loud, and the price, at $1,599 (as configured), is highly competitive. (Note that although Eve compares itself solely to the luxe Surface Pro, you’ll find plenty of capable alternatives, like the HP Spectre x2, more in the ballpark.)
On the other hand, the machine has some growing to do. In addition to the above complaints, the kickstand is stiff and difficult to maneuver (and made from scratch-prone aluminum). The keyboard docking system needs some refinement. It’s heavy, too, at a full 3 pounds (2 pounds without the keyboard attached).
But perhaps Eve intends to distract you from its Gen 1 issues with its myriad cutesy flourishes. The V key is an inverted triangle, y’all! And instead of a backspace arrow, the key says Oops!