Raon almost didn’t deliver on time, but Dynamisn is a bunch of very punctual people. They managed to grab the device right off the first shipment from Korea and deliver the device one day before my holiday. Not only did I get it for a rebate thanks to umpcportal.com, Dynamism also added a free extended battery to the package. Thanks, guys!
It looks like an oversized PDA and it is heavier than you expect once you pick it up. Build quality is excellent, nothing on this device feels like a cheap compromise. For the detailed specs, please see Raon’s page.
It comes with a ridicilous pouch, similar to the ugly sock that disgraced the Nokia 770. The pouch offers no adequate protection for this expensive device. With alternatives priced at 50+ $ that buyers need to order overseas, I’m beginning to get a real grudge about manufacturers that offer ultrarare mobile devices like this without at least providing a stuffed pouch that allows you not to worry about how to take it on the road.
The Everun is ready to go, with all drivers installed. The pre-installed English XP is criminally out of date, XP’s update process is deactivated and once you start it, it installs more than 90 critical updates. It took me several hours to get the OS to a current state.
The tiny buttons are located at the right of the screen. A tilt sensor will rotate the screen as needed, in all four directions. In rotated portrait mode, it’s comfortable to type with two thumbs, in standard landscape mode it’s enough to type short URLs or passwords with your right thumb. A light sensor will turn on the backlight if you’re typing in the dark.
As an exercise, this very review was written directly on the Everun during my subway commute. The keyboard is better than expected, but of course, the keys are tiny. Shift, Ctrl, Alt and FN are located on the side – twice, so that you can use them in landscape and portrait modes.
Due to the Everun’s weight, two-thumb typing in portrait mode is quite a strain on your hands, balancing the device’s centre of gravity above your fingers.
There are no dedicated media keys except a volume control, but with the full set of QWERTY on the side, you have lots of keys to configure for your favourite media player software.
Mouse & Pointing, Screen
The optical trackpointer is a clever idea, it works like a reversed optical mouse, scanning your finger movements. You have several ways to click – push the trackpointer, use the pen or use the two mouse buttons left to the screen. The scrollwheel is emulated by two dedicated buttons or by moving the trackpointer while pressing FN. FN also makes pen clicks or trackpointer presses a right mouseclick. There are so many alternatives for clicking and moving the mousepointer that you’ll probably find one that suits you.
The touchscreen is ok, but compared to the N800, it is quite disappointing: Its non-glare coating gives it a “cloudy” look’ known from lowcost laptops. It is a soft-touch digitizer, so that you can use your fingertip, but the pen is more exact.
Using the pen can be frustrating at times. When touching the screen, I often seem to touch-and-then-move the pen’s tip on the screen surface, so that I don’t click an icon, but move it. (This is an effect usually experienced by novice mouse users who still learn how to click without moving the mouse at the same time.)
This doesn’t happen with any other touchscreen device I use (and I tried lots), so Raon might want to finetune the threshold on when the touchscreen digitizer reacts to clicks. By direct comparison, the N800’s slightly smaller touchscreen of same resolution feels more exact and I don’t experience the touch-and-move effect there.
800×480 with XP is quite a pain. Many default system settings don’t fit in either landscape or portrait mode, the WLAN hotspot list or the display properties being prominent examples. The resolution is great to surf the web and watch a video, but way too little for a traditional three-panel-display mail app such as Thunderbird. Portrait mode doesn’t help here: Writing an email with your average 72-character width leaves you with the choice of a 6-pixel width font. Screen resolution is also too little to read a full-page PDF in portrait mode.
This Everun has one 6GB-SSD and one 60GB harddisk. I didn’t make any formal tests about battery drain or i/o-speed. I didn’t notice any speed advanages with SSD at all.
A mini-USB port allows to access the primary drive as an external USB drive, making the Everun one big portable hard drive with an x86 computer attached to it. Or not, as the primary drive on my Everun is the 6G-SSD system disk. The 60GB data disk (where you want to carry volatile files) isn’t available through the USB connector, making Raon’s really clever idea rather pointless: You still need to buy a laplink cable to transfer lots of data fast.
I used the Everun during a long holiday trip, visiting several hotels with different WLAN setups. Connectivity was often poor and the device dropped connections a lot, even if signal strength was high. At home, close to my router’s access point, WLAN is very reliable.
There are a lot of status leds, some are really odd. The charging indicator shows orange for quick charging and blue for slow charging which kicks in once the battery is almost full. No LED light indicates a full battery or no battery at all. Why not use a more logical red-yellow-green cycle for empty, half-charged and full battery?
Why show WLAN activity on a prominently located, bright LED? And then there’s the CPU indicator that blinks at different patterns to show the processor’s speed. Utterly useless information that you don’t understand without the manual. Half of these blinkenlights could be removed without being missed.
It’s odd to experience the Everun’s speed. On the one hand, GUI feedback is often several moments later than a click, you’re often unsure wether the device is slow or if you just mis-clicked and need to click again. On the other hand, notorious bloatware such as OpenOffice is comfortable to use. Skype audio calls work fine (you can even use the internal speakers and internal microphone, making the Everun act as a speakerphone), I didn’t try to use video calls.
Firefox and Thunderbird are a pleasure to use, Flash and Youtube bog down the system unless you switch to low quality in Flash.
To summarize, speed is adequate for productivity applications and some multimedia.
Raon pre-installed GOMPlayer which makes the Everun a fine all-purpose PMP. MP3 is no problem even in throttled powersave mode. DivX decodes fine and fullscreen video is a pleasure to watch, but a raw DVD movie or high-bandwidth DVB-T skips. (This is a major disappointment, since watching DVD on the go is my personal killer feature. For the Everun, you still have to transcode your movie.)
The audio output has some static and crackles, this is not HiFi quality, but good enough for the subway commute.
There is one word to describe the Raon Everun: Clever. It’s a joy to realize how much thought the hardware designers put into this device. The keyboard, the mouse trackpointer, the scroll buttons, the autorotate, the automatic keyboard backlight – just clever. These designers love what they do.
The Everun has its flaws. My main complaint would not be the Everun hardware, but its software. 800×480 is the recommended screen resolution that Microsoft chose for UMPCs, yet the OS has menus that don’t fit. What good is the promise of being able to run standard software when the screen estate is too small for it? Thunderbird is one example that is just not usable in a sensible way with this screen, even if the device is fast enough. One has to carefully choose software that is usable with this limited screen resolution.
The screen could be better and higher resolution would be nice to read a full-page PDF. (And as usual, the Everun could be faster, lighter, and come with more memory.)
But you’ll forgive its flaws for its two killer features that make it a unique combination.
Size: This device is as small and light as possible, yet has a keyboard and is still usable.
Battery: The Everun literally runs forever. Other manufacturers shrink the battery with the subnotebook and then end up at the magic 3-hour-limit again. The Everun designers didn’t do that. It is tiny and goes on and on.
This is my first x86 device where battery time is not an issue and it is a whole new experience not to think about where to find the next power outlet. With the standard battery, it already runs longer than most laptops on the market, the extended battery makes it run for the length of one transatlantic flight and then some.
- killer combination of an extremely small device that still offers very long battery time
- clever! hardware design, no cheap compromises
- very good cost/performance ratio on current market (though competition will increase in coming months)
- fast enough for most productivity applications and some multimedia
- full QWERTY keyboard that is actually useful for short typing
- tilt sensor that automatically rotates the screen
- lots of alternatives for GUI interaction: touchscreen, mouse & scroll buttons plus a very nice optical trackpointer
- usability of XP and standard software lacks on a screen resolution of 800×480
- “external hard-disk” option via mini-USB connector useless for two-disk devices as it gives access to primary drive, only
- SSD not a major advantage over harddisk
- WiFi not very reliable
- not fast enough for DVD or DVB video
- pre-installed XP needed lots of updates
- slow GUI feedback
- fiddly touchscreen pointing
- useless, distracting status indicator LEDs
- static/crackles in audio output
- useless pouch
Link recommendation: You will find lots of helpful information plus a crowded forum of Everun enthusiasts at umpcportal.com.