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Circuit Breaker

The Eve V is the USB-C Surface Pro that Microsoft won’t make

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Could Eve-Tech be the OnePlus of Windows?

Microsoft is quite open about its reasons for continually refusing to add USB-C to its line of Surface computers; the company just doesn’t think the multi-functional port is mainstream enough yet. But that doesn’t mean people don’t want it, as Eve-Tech CEO Konstantinos Karatsevidis will tell you. And he should know — his startup’s new convertible computer, the Eve V, had its spec sheet determined by the votes of thousands of crowdfunding backers.

What does the resulting product look like? Well, it’s pretty much a Surface Pro with two USB-C ports. You were saying, Microsoft?

But Microsoft is just fine with the Eve V. In fact, it’s impressed — it’s going to be showing off the product this week in its booth and at its keynote at Computex Taipei, according to Karatsevidis. Intel is another heavy hitter backing the Eve V, having invested a “six-figure” sum in its development. There’s something going on with the Eve V beyond your average Indiegogo vaporware.

Other specs apparently decided upon by committee are a slightly thicker chassis than the Surface Pro to allow for a bigger battery, and Intel Core i5 or i7 Y-series processors — that’s the low-power line that used to be called Core M before Intel confusingly rebranded it. Karatsevidis claims that the Eve V’s cooling system allows the processor to run at top speed for longer, and the selection of chips allowed for a fanless design.

Performance and battery life assessments will have to wait for a full review, of course. But what I can say about the Eve V after spending a little time with it is that there aren’t any obvious red flags in its design, apart from a backspace button that’s inexplicably labeled “oops!” The build quality is solid, with subtle rounded edges that make it feel friendlier than a Surface Pro. There is almost no branding beyond a light pattern underneath the kickstand and a triangle logo on the V key. The design is obviously derivative, but it’s a good-looking machine for what it is.

The 3:2 12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 screen appears to be a very similar panel to the Surface Pro’s, though the glass has had an extra anti-reflective coating applied. The pen, meanwhile, is literally identical to the Surface Pro 3, and 4’s — it comes from the same supplier and is backwards compatible. The keyboard has RGB backlighting and a surprising amount of travel, and there’s a Precision Trackpad that felt reasonably good. The power button has a fingerprint sensor. And yes, there are two USB-C ports — one with Thunderbolt 3 — as well as two regular USB-A ports. And a headphone jack with a dedicated amplifier.

All of this starts at $799 including the keyboard and pen. The Surface Pro also starts at $799, but that’s for a model with half the RAM (just 4GB) and without a bundled keyboard or pen. On paper, the Eve V looks like a very well balanced machine for the price.

The catch is that it’s going to be produced in limited quantities, so you might have trouble actually buying one even if it does turn out to be great. Eve-Tech is a small company that seems to be taking inspiration from OnePlus’ early success stoking fan enthusiasm with direct online sales in batches. It’s going to be shipping the first Eve V units out to Indiegogo backers in a matter of weeks, however, so it shouldn’t be too long before we know whether this really is a product worth buzzing about.