The prices on small tablets have continued to drop since Microsoft began offering Windows licenses on screens nine inches or smaller.
That has resulted in quite a few offerings in that range but it also means some compromises are made in hardware configurations to get the balance of value and functionality correct.
Sometimes that works and at other times it crashes and burns. In a majority of the cases there are pros and cons about these devices and the Eve T1 falls squarely in the middle of that range.
I gave you a quick glimpse of the Eve T1 from Eve Tech a couple of weeks ago and now I want to share more of my usage experience with you.
Physically this device will surprise you at its cost point of 159 Euros ($170) over in Europe or the tax free $130 if you order it for delivery in the US. Its case is plastic but the texturing of it makes it feel more premium than that.
Specifications wise it is what you would expect for this price point:
- Display: 8" IPS HD 1280x800 LCD
- Processor: Intel© Bay Trail Z3735F 1.8 GHz
- RAM: 2GB
- Memory: 32GB
- Battery: 4300 mAh (Estimated 11 hours of usage time)
- Camera: 5MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
- Wireless: 802.11 g and Bluetooth 4.0
- Sensors: GPS
- Ports & Connections: Micro-USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio, speakers, up to 128 GB SDXC card
- OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing; Includes one year of Microsoft Office 365
- Size: 130mm x 216mm x 9mm
- Weight: 395g (14 ounces)
The one exception to in those specs is the inclusion of a GPS sensor – not something you usually get in this type of device and at this price.
After getting the device setup with my own Microsoft Account it quickly adopted my settings, apps and Start Screen layout from my main Windows 8.1 desktop. Of course the next step is to get all the Windows Updates on the device to make sure it is up to date with fixes.
It was at this point that I had a couple of observations that actually had nothing to do with the Eve T1 itself but the Windows tablet market in general.
< SOAPBOX >
First, scaling of the Start Screen is lacking because when you sync your layout between a desktop with a large screen to a smaller screened device the tiles overflow from their original positions and create what appears to be extra columns. Shouldn’t Windows scale that screen down so the tiles maintain the same layout of the larger screen?
Two, on a device without a keyboard connected every tap into any dialog box , desktop or Windows app, that requires some type of text entry should display the on-screen keyboard by default. This applies to all device sizes and not just small tablets such as the Surface line of devices either without the keyboard or with keyboard attached and folded behind the device in tablet mode, a 2 in 1 device such as the Yoga that is in tablet mode, an HP Stream 7 and even the Eve T1. It should be set by default on these devices or at least an option to select on the keyboard settings.
< /SOAPBOX >
With that said onwards to using the Eve T1 itself.
The 8 inch size is easy enough to hold in portrait or landscape mode and each position worked better for certain apps however, in landscape mode and using the on-screen keyboard I kept hitting the Enter key instead of Backspace and sent out some very incomplete tweets a few times. The on-screen keyboard in portrait mode is very easy to use.
I was able to pair my Microsoft Wedge and Sculpt Touch mouse via Bluetooth for those times I wanted to work beyond the on-screen keyboard and on an 8 inch tablet that is handy. However, the reality of this device is it would be for consumption and short/quick interactions on social media and email. If I need to do work that requires a connected Bluetooth keyboard and mouse I am heading to my Surface 2 or desktop PC.
The screen is sharp enough and functional with its 720p HD resolution but due to the glossy nature of the screen’s finish outdoor visibility will be a challenge unless you are in the shade.
After using the device for about 10 minutes you will begin to feel some warmth building up on the right side of the devices back if it is held in portrait mode. It does not get unbearably warm and is not intolerable. I asked Eve Tech about this and they told me this heat comes from the systems CPU.
When I am using a device like this in tablet mode I keep reverting to my smartphone habits and looking for a back key and search key on either side of the Windows logo/button at the bottom of the device. This is quite strange because when I am using my Surface 2 in tablet mode that thought never crosses my mind.
I tested the battery on the Eve T1 by charging it up to 100% and then streaming Amazon Prime TV to it (Star Trek: TOS Season 1 if you must know) without any sound on and of course connected to wireless.
The device was able to stream four full episodes and part of a fifth before it died. Total battery time under heavy streaming usage was just over 4 hours. Using the device casually for social media, reviewing RSS feeds and light email typically resulted in 9-10 hours of battery life. Eve Tech specs state it should get approximately 11 hours so this is not far off.
The Eve T1 should be able to run Windows 10 when it comes out and of course, since it is running Windows 8.1, it will be eligible for the free upgrade as well.
Since I review technology from an experiential perspective, what it is like to use it on a regular basis for my normal activities, I would have to say that at a price point of $130 the Eve T1 is a great companion device and one I would not mind having around.
Most of us sit on the couch and use our phones as a convenient second screen. The Eve T1 with its eight inch screen and decent battery life could easily upgrade that experience.
You can purchase your own Eve T1 directly from the manufacturer at http://www.eve-tech.com/. They have some exciting plans for the future so they will be a company worth following.