Since Microsoft introduced its Surface RT and Pro 2-in-1 hybrid tablet PCs, we've seen an avalanche of OEMs rush to flood the personal computing channel with their cloned versions. Unfortunately, the onslaught of devices targeting a Surface buying audience has fostered an end goal that one-day an OEM will eventually make the Surface killer device.
Eve-Tech is no different, and one could argue the company seems to maintain that narrative. However, where the company does make a significant divergence is in the 'why' of their product and in that, they've created their own mission goal.
The V, is in most regards, a Surface look-a-like, right down to its matte black coated paint job that's reminiscent of the OG Surface RT and Surface Pro devices, but the company has gone out of its way to give customers an answer to why its product exists alongside the increasingly faceless attempts by other well-established PC manufacturers. The answer? - a simple but widely successful notion of customer-first. Rather than being born of product category checklist, the V designed from the exhaustive community discussion about what needs to go into the ultimate 2-in-1 device.
The V is a crowdfunded project that became the first of its kind with help from over 1,000 fans suggesting what ports to include, how to cool the system, materials to encase the device in and which biometric authentication methods to utilize. After reaching over 1300 percent of their targeted goal in as little as 4 days, fans are left with a sleek, powerful and thoughtful 2-in-1 that offers the premium feel of a Surface device for way less.
Picture Surface Pro with the tactile feel of the original Surface Pro (1).
[perfectpullquote align="left" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]If the mission is to offer a premium looking device that summons a sense of ownership pride, then mission accomplished.[/perfectpullquote]
While the Surface Pro is made of Microsoft's famed injected magnesium, the V takes a more traditional approach to crafting the body of its 2-in-1 from a single piece of aluminum, I was told. The 12.3" aluminum body feels significantly heavier than the newest Surface PC but that more about the battery which I'll discuss later.
Yet the in the age of tableted PCs, the V remains middle of the road for heft and feel among its siblings in the category as the Scandinavian based design company Propeller helped Eve-Tech distribute the weight evenly across the entire device, avoiding any potential lopsidedness.
While a company such as Lenovo has decided to embrace a pre-Surface Pro (2017) era of angularity when designing its latest Miix 720, the V has rounded off its edges. The result is a palm-friendly device when handled in tablet mode despite the substantive weight of the machine. The V is also cool to the touch for the most part, presumably due to the aluminum materials.
It would have been easy for Eve-Tech to go crazy with its branding efforts to compensate for relatively unknown status in the market right now, but the only markings found are simple 2-inch embossed V located on the back bottom center, adding the devices sleek and understated professionally minimalistic look and feel.
It comes with a pen, and a keyboard!
The pen that comes with the V seems to also take on the matte black aluminum feel of the computer. If you're doing a spit-take right now, you'd be forgiven as I repeat, the pen is included with the Eve V. While I would love to have had an eraser-like implementation adorned the top of the pen, the two button layout works just as well for my limited writing and drawing needs.
For some, Eve may have overdone it with the Alcantar on the included (yep, included) keyboard as it's bit more plush feeling than the refined Surface Pro option but the end result is an even more inviting typing experience if you could believe it. I'm not sure how the material will hold up over the course of a year plus, but so far some glazed doughnut encrusted encounters have not phased the keyboard yet.
How it Works
Like a premium Surface Pro.
Starting with the individually calibrated IGZO display that somehow managed to get a slightly higher sRGB rating than the Surface Pro, users are invited into a world rich with color accuracy and pixel display. However, to be honest, most displays these days are phenomenal and for the V to be an exception would have been a step in the wrong direction.
Eve-Tech nailed the display and beyond the pixel-peepers, there isn't much else to say about it in my opinion other than the noteworthy calibration tool included, which allows (I'm assuming for photographers and graphic designers) the option to set color tones for the display. Once again, the Eve-Tech folks are handing the options over to the customer, which is sadly becoming a refreshing bonus these days.
Despite working with what seems to be a skeleton crew compared to PC manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Lenovo and the rest, the folks over at Eve-Tech still managed to bring the power and ports necessary to place the V on the upper echelon of computing wants and needs.
Quiet and configurable
Mirroring the mission statement by the company, the V is available in several configurations that include an m3, i5, and i7 processors with storage range between 128GB all the way up to 1TB. The model I reviewed was an i7, 16GB 512GB device that ran like a beast and sounded like a ninja (that is to say, made no sound).
After recently reviewing the Lenovo Miix 720, it was a pleasant experience not having to explain to my wife that my machine didn't double as a leaf blower (hyperbole, of course). Using the latest Intel Core Y CPU chipset, Eve-Tech managed to provide i7 level performance without much of the heat sink and noise typically associated with it, granted I'm not the most resource intensive tester out there. However, running a few pieces of Adobe software and viewing the Punisher on Netflix in the browser didn't seem to phase the device in the slightest.
According to Eve-Tech, anyone interested in tweaking the device to squeeze out every drop of performance can go into the UEFI to adjust the TDP (Thermal Design Power). When you're not toying with power settings, the PCIe SSD storage in the device makes navigating the Signature Microsoft experience an absolute pleasure for Windows fans. On a side note, Eve-Tech also explained that pre-bundling bloatware isn't the only way to bring down the cost of a device and now has me wondering what else I've been lied to about, is Santa Claus doing nothing more than engaging in B&E's around the world?
Ports, ports, ports!
Moving past the inside of the device, Eve-Tech managed to pack the V with an arsenal of ports, and not simply placate requests. The company chose to use the very best it could to craft a top notch 2-in-1. While some OEMs are playing let's make a deal with user-facing I/O's, the V is a Swiss Army knife of ports that include:
- 2x USB-A 3.0
- 1x USB-C 3.0
- 1x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
- 1x 3.5mm audio jack
- 1x Micro SDXC Reader
Unlike the comparatively port stingy Surface Pro and downright user antagonizing iPad Pro, the V is port happy home to all, especially gamers who want to transition to a more portable friendly gaming experience by simply connecting to external GPUs.
I'm not that dedicated of a gamer, but I did connect the V to my two work monitors as the device was more powerful than my company issued computer. I used the V as my daily device and the refresh rate on my screens using the Thunderbolt port was a noticeably nicer experience. I now understand what people are bitching about when it comes to the inclusion of a Thunderbolt USB-C port or adapter.
As I've referenced earlier, Eve-Tech not only checked off the headphone jack on its list of ports but included one that gave a little oomph! to my listening experience. I was told they sourced an audio amplifier jack from Texas Instruments that includes 2 far field noise-canceling mics. I would love to have had access to an equalizer for further customization but part of a bloat-free life means, well, no bloat.
A keyboard to be proud of
Perhaps the biggest delight I found in using the V wasn't super silent processing or radiant color screen and not even the added audio boost, but the freakin' Bluetooth RGB keyboard. I can say unequivocally, that going forward, ALL detachable 2-in-1's need to include this piece of kit with their devices. Not only was the keyboard fun to use it was practical in a way that I feel has been overlooked by the industry.
From the OOPS! back button to the Razor-like backlit color options, the Alcantara-laden keyboard has been one of the best typing experiences I have had in a long while. The keyboard has also doubled as my work keyboard because it uses standard Bluetooth technology to link with any PC. More customers should be demanding this interoperable addition of their OEMs, especially when we're forced to shell out $100 plus on this piece of tech (looking at you Microsoft).
Setting up the Bluetooth connection to the three PCs I've tried it with was as straightforward as pairing a phone and combined with what I've been told is a Gorilla Glass surface trackpad, the V's keyboard alone has been worth the price of admission. Switching from color to color on the backlit keyboard is fun and easy and also give the device an accessorized look that others have been paying $160 for.
I can't speak highly enough of the technology that has been packed into the V's keyboard.
On a less gushing note of admiration, the V does omit the use of a Windows Hello camera which I got pretty used to using on the Lenovo Miix and other Surface Pros. While it was a bit of a bummer for me, I quickly got used to using the fingerprint scanner intelligently placed on the side-mounted power switch. As with any fingerprint scanner, it takes a little bit of set up to establish, but once it's in place it becomes second nature in unlocking the device. To me, it didn't feel as quick or reliable as the Windows Hello camera, but it was a hell of a lot easier and faster than engaging in the traditional pin-lock.
A crowdsourced beefier battery
Lastly, I'll talk about battery life. It was good, but not mind-blowing. I think I've gotten to the point of understanding in my life to realize that Windows is a resource heavy operating system. I'll gladly take whatever battery improvements come my way but as long as the OS is built on top of legacy code, I'll always look forward to decent battery life.
By decent, I'm talking about 8 hours of off/on again use throughout my day without going to the power well. I don't run a standardized test and I don't follow benchmark software when judging battery. I gauge my battery life by charging at night, taking the device to work and then charging it again at night. Most of the time I was able to get back home with about 20 percent left, and that's when I used the device separately from my workstation (where it was mostly plugged in). I would use the device to edit photos and videos of my daughters, play the SIMs off and on throughout the day usually an hour or so at a time, binge-watching the Path on Hulu or the Punisher or Netflix and pumping out blog posts and articles hourly in Word or WordPress alongside of your typical internet browsing with a mix of Chrome and Edge (mostly Edge these days).
The folks over at Eve-Tech were asked several times by customers to include a more beefy battery in their device. Many wanted to forego "impossibly thin" to instead talk about an impossibly beefy battery, and after listening to the feedback, the V packs a 48Wh beast. Combined with the Core Y Intel chipsets, IGZO display, and power efficient PCIe storage, most people should have no problem getting 8 plus hours out a charge on this device, to which I say is more appreciated than the video-loop magic math of 3 dog-years worth of battery if the device is being used in a freezer and only on Thursdays.
[perfectpullquote align="left" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]It's cheap. If the goal was to create a Surface Pro for the rest of use, then mission accomplished.[/perfectpullquote]
I'm not quite sure how Eve managed to source these premium materials and package it in a device that sells for half of the Surface Pro, but they did, and I'm not complaining. My particular configuration comes in almost $1,000 cheaper than the equally spec'd Surface Pro. Where a i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD Surface Pro with keyboard and pen (which are crucial to a Surface Pros existence) runs close to $2459, the same package for the V is $1,599.
The V is an impressive device but not a Surface killer. If you're like me, you'll visit a few more sites and a handful of YouTube channels that claim that the V is or isn't a Surface killer, and I would caution you to take those opinions with a grain of salt as I don't believe this 2-in-1 was designed to be.
To me, the V is proof that Microsoft's mission was accomplished. It set forth a path to encourage any and every PC maker to strive to make a better personal computing experience that evolves with the user's needs. I believe the V followed that path and in many ways superseded Microsoft chasing after its own mission to create the world's first crowdfunded PC success.
Often times, I'm let down by crowdfunded ideas as they usually skimp on materials due to the donated-like efforts of the crowd or they don't scale as well as originally intended, and from what I gathered using the V, neither are the case for this device. As the Eve-Tech team worked closely with Microsoft and Intel to create this device, I feel it's got the best chance of providing a Surface-like experience to the masses.
Now I must note that, part of a device's packaged cost does include marketing. I think the V will live off its reviews for some time, but in order to capture that aimlessly wandering mom at Best Buy about to shackle her poor unsuspecting teenager with a Chromebook, it would behoove Eve to engage in a little branding awareness marketing, and that may raise the price of the device slightly.
As someone who has used the V for a little over two weeks, I can say that even with a little bit of a price increase it's still well worth the money of anyone looking to ditch the clamshell laptop life and move to ultra-portable detachable lifestyle. As with most rising tides, the more companies such as Apple pitch the idea of a versatile 2-in-1, the more price conscious individuals will search the Windows market for an equivalent, and right now, the V fits that bill perfectly.