This is a nice change of pace. Getting to check out a piece of brand new hardware, and one that fills a need in the market I have been talking about for a long time. The x86/x64 tablet market. I remember doing my damnedest to find a phone with an x86/x64 processor back when I first upgraded my handset, and coming under the false assumption that just because it ran Windows those old Nokia Lumia phones were x86. They were not, and I ended up with a phablet that could do very little really. Years past and the only viable option in this form factor was Microsoft’s own series of Surface Pro tablets, and while they are nice, they are also way overpriced for what you get. The fine folks over at Eve saw this and thought, we can do better, and the result is the crowd designed Eve V series, a low cost, high end alternative to Surface-alike tablets.
The reason I’ve been so hung up on this concept is down to program compatibility. Android based tablets and the like cannot run native Windows programs, the Arm processors that power them run a totally different set of instructions, and so you are at the mercy of the Android market. It has gotten pretty good these days, but when it comes to getting a wide range of useful programs nothing holds a candle to Windows.
Finnish start up Eve-Tech crowd funded the development back in late 2016, and the internals were designed by committee, a tech community of more than 1000 professionals who know exactly what they need out of a hybrid tablet/laptop. They hit their funding goal in 4 mins, raising over $200,000 on indiegogo, and they are now ready to release. They have five models, going toe to toe with the Surface in terms of aesthetics and specs, and I was lucky enough to check out the upper mid range model.
So let’s see if it stacks up to Microsoft’s effort.
Eve V Tablet Hybrid Design and Build Quality
The first thing I noticed was the look of the thing. This is a gorgeous piece of tech. They went with a black finish, but I am sure that down the road they will want to introduce some other colors, would have like to see it in white. The screen is 12.3″ on the diagonal, and it is crisp. Crisper even than 2017 Surface, and matching it in terms of resolution. The keyboard is nice, and it fold away easily, but It lays a little flat for me. Doesn’t detract from the look, but I am used to the little incline on my desktop, and this took a few minutes to get used to.
No expense was spared fro the screen. It is a joy to look at. A full 2880 x 1920 display, 1:1500 contrast ratio and 450 nits of brightness, putting it slightly ahead of the Surface Pro. It comes with anti-glare gorilla glass, for added toughness. Crystal clear even in the sun. Not that I was able to get a good sunny day to test it, had to go with other people’s word on that. I’m not much of an artist, but I would be remiss in my duties if I did not point out that the multi touch display, and high quality pen, make the Eve V perfect for on the go sketching. I would argue that the integrated graphics might hinder you a little in more intense tasks, but there are options for that, as we will see.
In the box you get the keyboard, a stylus pen, good sized one too, the device itself and the required charging cables. In terms of actual size, it is a hair bigger than the Surface 2017, we’re talking fractions of an inch, and it weight about .09llbs more than the most expensive offering from Microsoft. The kickstand at the back is sturdy, and keeps the whole thing from falling over, a good feature in a kickstand, and it runs the length of the device. Overall, holding it is quite nice, you really don’t notice that extra weight.
Now we get to the bit that I love. Looking at the actual specs of the build. Their are five models, and the biggest difference when moving up the tiers is in the CPU. The low end model uses the M.3 Intel CPU, the mid range models both use an i5 while the high end pair use an i7. I have done a lot of research into actual chips use by comparison to the ones in the Surface and I noticed that the Y series chips the Eve V uses are a shade slower than the U series that Microsoft went with. They cop to it, and the community decided that longevity was more important than a literal 3% real time performance improvement.
The model I checked out had the i7, specifically the i7-7Y75, and the difference between this lovely little mobile Kaby Lake and the Surfaces i7-7660U is in the base rate clock speed. The 7660U runs at a higher base clock, 2.5Ghz to the 7Y75’s 1.3Ghz, meaning that during non-intensive tasks the Surface runs hotter and for a much shorter time, usually around 6 hours, while the Eve V will keep on ticking for a full 12. When setting it to boost mode the the difference in core clocks becomes are less noticeable, with the Surface seeing a boosted clock of 4.0Ghz in single core and 3.8 in dual core and the Eve V getting 3.6Ghz in single core and 3.4 in dual core. That 400Mhz difference is negligible to the average user, and barely noticeable to the power user, and the benefits you get with the more power conscious chips far out weigh what little performance you gain with the hungrier ones. Bear in mind, all these CPUs are dual core, not quad core, but Intel’s hyper-threading tech is pretty good, so you can get quad core performance out of them.
There is one area that the Surface beats the Eve V soundly though, and that is graphical performance. The U series chips are fitted with the more advance Iris integrated GPU solution, and it beats the Intel HD 615 that comes in the Y chips rather soundly. The difference is actually pretty staggering, with the Iris getting playable framerates in a number of modern titles, with the settings brought down to next to nothing. Eve-Tech know this, and so they have taken steps to not only bridge the gap, but fill in the canyon as well. The port choices were made with a wide variety of needs in mind, and they have made sure that their Thunderbolt implementation is compatible out of the box with any eGPU solution you might want to throw at it.
I have taken a look at this growing market, and it has come a long way since I first read about the concept a few years back. No longer are you forced to buy specially tweaked cards, you just need a Thunderbolt GPU chassis and a GPU to go with it. There are a number of very nice options available right now in the $200 range, with a decent quality GPU costing you about half again as much, but considering the savings you make going with the EVE V you could buy a 1080 ti, a high quality chassis to put it in and the Eve V tablet hybrid all for less than the price of the highest end Surface Pro 2017.
Speaking of those ports, probably a good idea to break them down. The Eve V is fitted with two full sized USB 3.1 ports, compatible with the older 3.0 and 2.0 devices, a USB 3.1 with the Type-C interface, that wonderful Thunderbolt port with the Type-c interface and a Micro SDXC reader. There is also a headphone jack, but the quality of the on board audio is so good that I would really only call that a back up. There are four speakers in this thing, and it sounds better than most televisions, the audio is clean, with good range, hitting the lows far better than one would expect from a portable device.
All models of the Eve V comes with 8GB or 16GB of RAM, but it is mobile RAM. The Surface is the same, using LPDDR3. It has very low power draw, which is great, and it manages to spool up to 1833Mhz, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth for me. There are faster options out there, but I imagine they are far more expensive. Still, the capacity is great, even the lower end 8GB models manage very well, or so I am told. I would recommend getting the i7 model regardless though.
The storage solution is the second area where the models differ. The reason there is a model above the i7 is down to the capacity of the SSD. The M.3 version uses a 128GB drive, with the i5’s having either a 256GB or a 512GB drive. The i7 models have the 512GB or a full Terabyte drive in them, and it arguable the single largest pricing bottle neck. The great SSD shortage of 2017 is in full effect here, so it is no surprise that you will have to pay that much extra for the highest capacity drives.
There are a whole host of misc features to add in here. The keyboard is full wireless, and comes with some color changing options, but I am not too fussed on RGB. it’s nice, but hardly a deal maker. Security comes int he form of a fingerprint scanner built into the power switch, which is such a clever idea, but again, not a feature I’m too excited about. A couple of high res cameras and some noise cancelling microphones round out the features.
Overall there is a lot to like here. The specs are way beyond what I thought they would be, and the feature set is impressive. The fact that a community came together to address their own personal computing needs is wonderful, and the end result is well worth the price. Speaking of price…
Eve V Tablet Hybrid Pricing and Warranty
The pricing of the Surface, and the rest of the Windows based tablets, was one of the main reasons for the Eve V in the first place. All the big retailers were charging far too much for the Hardware, taking a leaf out of Apple’s book, and so Eve-Tech addressed this issue. The lower end M.3 Eve V comes in at $799, matching the Microsoft M.3 tablet, but with double the RAM and far more useful ports. The next model up is the 256GB i5 model, priced at $1199, the low end i5 Surface 2017 is cheaper at $979 but with half the storage, half the RAM and again a less useful port set, to match the specs Microsoft is charging $1249. The mid range 512 GB Eve V i5 is $1499, up against the mid range Surface at $1249 but again the Surface has half the RAM and half the Storage capacity. Next is my favorite Eve V, the lower end i7 model priced at $1599, up against the equivalent Microsoft Surface 2017 priced at a ludicrous $2149 but at least this time the specs line up. Finally the highest end from both firms, the 1TB i7 Eve V is priced at $1999, while the Surface Pro 2017 high end is sitting at $2699. Microsoft has lowered their prices recently btw, just a few months back the price difference between the mid range models was over a grand.
The V is offered with 2-year warranty for EU consumers, and 1-year for consumers from other countries/regions. But all Indiegogo backers got 2-year warranty.
Full details about the warranty policy will be available when sales start.
Eve V Tablet Hybrid Conclusion
This is one of the most impressive pieces of tech I have ever seen. Taking the core concept of a high end Windows native Tablet hybrid and running with it. Making the price far closer to what it should be, while matching, or more often beating, the offerings from Microsoft themselves. It has had an effect on the market already., with most firms lowering prices to compete. I hope that Eve succeeds, we need more community sourced products like this, made for the end user in terms of what i can do, but also in terms of pricing. If this is a hit we can expect more from them going forward, would love to see what Eve-Tech could do with the Ryzen-Vega based Raven Bridge chipset, but they would need to go with better RAM to make the most of that.
Overall this is a bit of a no brainer. You have a dedicated team, a robust community ready to offer help to anyone, and a high end, low cost product more than a match for the competition. Going to go out on a limb and answer the question in the title, yes, the Eve V is a Surface Killer.