Billed as the world’s first crowd-sourced PC, the Eve V is an audacious and modern attempt to give the people what they want. And what the people want, apparently, is a low-cost Surface Pro clone.
Is it successful? From a high-level, the answer is a qualified yes. Eve appears to have hit the high points of the Surface Pro, with the same tablet-based 2-in-1 form factor, an integrated kickstand, a high-quality type cover with a full-sized keyboard and glass touchpad, and an active pen.
It even improves on the Microsoft device by including far more port expansion and USB-C charging. The type cover is Bluetooth-based and can be used detached from the tablet, and you can configure the color of the backlighting behind the keys on the fly.
However, the Eve V is considerably heavier than the Surface Pro. And the materials, while pleasant, do not quite rise to the quality level that Microsoft has achieved.
So what really separates this device from Surface Pro? The Eve V is considerably less expensive than an equivalent Surface Pro.
Part of the savings comes from Eve bundling the type cover and active pen with the device. Part of it comes from using less powerful parts: The Eve V can be had with an Intel Core m3 chipset on the low-end, just like the new Surface Pro, but it only utilizes lackluster Y-series parts for other models; you can get a real U-series Core i5 or i7 with Surface Pro.
Let’s do some math before diving deeper into my first impressions of the device.
Like Surface Pro, Eve V starts at $799: That base version features an Intel Core m3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. A comparable Surface Pro would cost about $1060, but would include just 4 GB of RAM: That works out to $799 for the tablet, $100 for Surface Pen, and $160 for a Type Cover.
As configured like my review unit, with a dual-core 1.3 GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 (7th generation) processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB PCIe SSD, a higher-end Eve V will cost about $1600. A comparable Surface Pro costs about $2360. For that additional $760, you get better performance (the Surface Pro includes a 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor with Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640), a higher resolution active pen, a choice of type cover colors and styles, and lower weight. It also includes Windows 10 Pro, not Windows 10 Home like the Eve.
So the savings are real. The question for my coming review is whether the value is real. That is, does Eve V work well enough in the real world? What’s the performance really like? The pen? The keyboard The display? The battery life?
I’ll find out. For now, I can say that it is a solid, substantial device: Both the tablet body and type cover are heavier than what’s available with Surface Pro.
The keyboard itself seems to be nearly identical to that of the Surface Pro Type Cover, and it has a nice, satisfying click. (There’s a cute triangular Eve V logo instead of a V key.) The touchpad is a bit less wide than that of Surface Pro but it looks better proportioned. The type cover utilizes a Pogo-Pin connector and comes detached more easily than with Surface Pro. But again, it can work wirelessly, too, something Microsoft could learn from.
The display looks solid: It is a 12.3-inch LCD display running at 2880 x 1920 with a 3:2 aspect ratio. By comparison, Surface Pro also features a 12.3-inch 3:2 display, but it runs at 2736 x 1824.
The expansion is even more noteworthy. Where Microsoft continues to disappoint with a single USB 3 port, miniDisplayPort for video-out and the USB-based Surface Connect for power and further expansion, Eve V really delivers with two full-sized USB 3 ports, 1 USB-C port, 1 USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, and a microSDXC card reader. Microsoft, please listen. This is how it’s done.
I’m of two minds when it comes to crowd-sourcing. On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with this kind of community relationship, and it’s nice seeing the company’s biggest fans be involved in this way. But I also have worries about “too many cooks” syndrome, and wonder if the right choices were always made.
That said, it looks like a nice compromise so far. And I’ll keep testing to see whether Microsoft and the many other companies making Surface Pro clones have anything to worry about.
Eve V will be available via flash sale starting December 4. You can find out more here.