Review: Raon Digital Everun Note D24S

Everun_note_review

Raon Digital's third entrant into the ultraportable computer market is the Everun Note, a compact clamshell with a 7-inch WSVGA touchscreen released in September 2008 and now available in several different configurations.

The D24S is the top-of-the-line model that boasts a powerful 1.2GHz dual-core AMD Turion processor, 1GB of RAM, 24GB split SSD (8GB SLC, 16GB MLC), and Windows XP Professional. And thanks to Dynamism, it is also the subject of this review.

System Specifications

CPU:
1.2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2
RAM: 1GB
OS: Windows XP Professional
Storage: 24GB SSD (8GB SLC + 16GB MLC)
Display: 7” touchscreen (1024 x 600)
Wireless: 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, 3G WWAN option
Size: 7.9" x 4.6" x 1.1
Weight: 1.58 lbs.

Full specifications and other details about the D24S are in the Pocketables Products database; comparison with other configurations can be found there as well.

Design

Though there isn't anything particularly striking about its design, the Everun Note is still a nice-looking device. It's a bit more cute than stylish since it's somewhat chunky and looks like a standard notebook computer (only smaller).

Everun_note_des

Most of the Note is made of sturdy matte plastic that is resistant to fingerprints and gives the unit a fresh, clean look. The glossy finish of the lid, subtle curves, and rounded edges prevent the understated design from being too sterile.

Build quality is high, with no excessive creaking and a strong hinge. Nothing about the Everun Note feels cheap or carelessly slapped together. It's able to withstand being handled with a certain degree of roughness without looking like a ruggedized device, which makes the transition between tossing it into a bag, jostling it around a bit, and then using it in the most professional situations pretty seamless. "Strong yet delicate" might be too much of an oxymoron, but those are the words I would use to describe it, particularly because it sustained absolutely no damage from a four-foot fall onto a hardwood floor when the "pocket" I thought I was slipping it into turned out not to be a pocket at all.

Size

The Everun Note is in no danger of being accused of being too thin; in fact, the all-white casing makes it look more noticeably "bottom heavy" than other devices with the same form factor.

Everun_note_size_coin 

Everun_note_size_wii 

Though some may erroneously classify the Everun Note as a netbook because of its design, I'm much more inclined to call it a UMPC or mini notebook and put it alongside the Kohjinsha SC3 and Fujitsu U810, as I've done below.

Everun_note_size_mn1 

Everun_note_size_mn2 

Everun_note_size_mn3 

Note that both the Kohjinsha and Fujitsu convertibles are wearing their extended batteries.

A more mainstream mini notebook that many may think of in terms of rivaling the Everun Note is the Sony Vaio P.

Everun_note_size_vaiop1 

Everun_note_size_vaiop2 

Here are some additional comparison photos to put the Everun into a different, less clamshell-gadgety context.

Everun_note_size_comp

Left to right: Everun Note, Willcom D4, BenQ S6, Sony Vaio UX180P.

Everun_note_size_netbooks

Left to right: Samsung NC10, HP Mini 2133, Everun Note.

Everun_note_size_d4

Left to right: Everun Note, Willcom D4.

Everun_note_size_shift 

Left to right: HTC Shift, Everun Note.

Display

The Raon Digital Everun Note has a 7-inch touchscreen with a native resolution of 1024 x 600.

Everun_note_scrback 

Unlike the Kohjinsha SC3 and Fujitsu U series, the Note isn't a convertible so its display doesn't swivel for use as a tablet/slate. It can be pushed down almost flat, though exactly for what purpose is beyond me. Though inking is possible, it isn't really practical without a swiveling screen and XP Pro doesn't include tablet functionality, anyway.

We all know that Windows XP isn't optimized for finger use, but the touchscreen responds well to fingernails and stylii (if you have your own; the Everun Note doesn't come with a stylus or have a place on its body to store one) if you don't want to bother with the optical mouse.

Everun_note_screen 

The screen is also very bright. Clarity is compromised by the nature of the touchscreen, especially against white backgrounds (where "fuzziness" is most visible), but it's still a really nice display. Natural viewing angles are good, as are color saturation and accuracy.

Controls

Though Everun Note has a lot of ports and hardware controls built into its compact body, their placement is tasteful and doesn't detract from the unit's minimalist design.

Everun_note_kbtop 

Above the keyboard are an almost-flush power button, stereo speakers, and two buttons (PS [power saving] and Auto) that control the Note's CPU speed and manage its power consumption. Strangely placed on the screen hinge is the 1.3-megapixel webcam (talk about an unflattering camera angle!).

Everun_note_mouse 

Beneath the keyboard, which is discussed in its own section below, is an optical mouse (same one used on the Raon Digital Everun) flanked by small mouse buttons that produce an unnaturally loud click when pressed.

Though I praised the optical mouse on the original Everun, I don't think it's quite as good on the Everun Note, mostly because it works better with a thumb than a finger. Since a thumb has more surface area than a finger pad, moving the cursor/pointer requires less "swiping" over the optical mouse, which means that you get to where you want to go faster and with a more fluid motion.

Using an optical mouse instead of a standard touchpad allows for a smaller device footprint, but I don't think it's well-suited for the Note's form factor. An optical mouse like this one works better on a handheld gadget designed for two-handed use.

Everun_note_led

To the right of the optical mouse and buttons are a mic hole and three LED indicators (WiFi, WWAN, and power/HDD).

Everun_note_slots 

On the front side of the Everun Note are USIM (not prewired with antenna) and SD card slots.

Everun_note_right 

Headphone and microphone jacks, two USB ports, one mini USB port (when the Note is shut down, it can be connected to another computer and used as an external disk), and one of three vents are on the right side of the device.

Everun_note_back 

A VGA port that can drive an external monitor up to 1920 x 1200 and half of the second vent can be found on the back.

Everun_note_left 

The third vent and the power port are located on the left. Oddly, there is no charging LED anywhere on the device to indicate the status of the Note's battery. Is it charging? Is it fully charged? Who knows!

Keyboard

The Everun Note has a 73-key QWERTY keyboard with 16mm pitch (the Vaio P keyboard, in comparison, has 82 keys and 16.5mm pitch).

Everun_note_keyboard_layout

The layout is non-standard, with most of the punctuation keys residing in the top row, so the out-of-box typing experience is slower and less accurate than it is after the layout is learned.

Everun_note_kb1

The biggest obstacle for me is the size of the comma and period keys, which are too small given how often they're used. It already feels foreign to have the enter key right next to the L key, especially when in full touch-typing hand position; reducing the size of the period key exacerbates that awkwardness and makes accidentally hitting the shift key too easy.

Having to be mindful of these keys really has an impact on typing speed and accuracy.

Everun_note_kb2 

Everun_note_typing

The punctuation key issues aren't as much of a problem when hunting-and-pecking or even thumb typing (lots of stretching involved), but it definitely gets in the way when touch typing. Yes, touch typing: both hands on the keyboard, not looking at your fingers while typing. Depending on the size of your hands, real touch typing is not only possible, it's pretty comfortable too.

After two weeks of daily practice, I'm now seeing typing speeds of 70 wpm, about 79% of my average typing speed on a full-size keyboard (see my mobile device keyboard typing speeds chart for more comparisons). Accuracy is still challenged, though not as much by the punctuation keys as by the responsiveness of the spacebar. I find that unless I tap it deliberately and more forcefully than is natural to me, the key press won't register and I'll end up with text that is smashedtogetherlikethis. Not good.

Even with those issues in mind, however, the Everun Note keyboard is still outstanding for its size. Please refer to my keyboard size comparison photos to see how it compares to other devices. This will not be true for everyone, but for me, this is the smallest keyboard that I can touch type on both comfortably and naturally.

Performance

More than anything else, what many find most impressive about the Everun Note is its power.

Usually, when the word "power" is used in reference to a UMPC or mini notebook, it's sandwiched between a prefix and a suffix ("underpowered" for the grammatically challenged). Since the introduction of the original Origami UMPC in 2006, there has always been a trade-off between power and size. Whether it was Intel's Celeron, A110, or Atom Z5xx series, AMD's Geode LX800 and LX900, or VIA's C7-M, the UMPC's processor was never powerful (the Sony Vaio UX series, particularly the UX490N with its Core 2 Solo U2200, is the only exception).

So when it was revealed that the Everun Note would be powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core AMD Turion processor, even UMPC naysayers stopped and took notice.

CPU Benchmarks

Portable/Laptop power scheme, running on AC power:

Crystalmark_ac_portlapmode 

Max Battery power scheme, running on battery:

Crystmalmark_batt_savemode 

Obviously, all of this power comes at a price. Well, two prices, really: heat and battery. To allow the unit to run for more than an hour and to prevent it from burning a hole through your desk, the CPU is automatically underclocked when the Everun Note isn't plugged in.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I understand why it's done and how it could be useful for those who use the device as a desktop machine (hooked up to a large external monitor and keyboard): full power when they need it, less power when they don't. It makes sense and to be honest, even at a reduced processor speed, the Turion still spanks the competition.

But on the other hand, what's the point of having all that power in a mobile device if the only way to take advantage of that power is to not really be mobile with it?

Everun_note_ac 

Because it's not as though the power brick is small or light. Having to carry the AC adapter and power cord around just so the Everun Note will run at its advertised clock speed adds an additional 0.76 pounds to your bag. That's nearly 50% of the Note itself.

In other words, the dual-core Turion is overkill for people whose primary use of the Note is to surf the web, check email, and do some light work.

SSD Benchmarks

The Everun Note D24S's 24GB SSD is made up of a 8GB SLC and 16GB MLC drive.

On my review unit, the 16GB drive was partitioned in four unequal parts: 5.6GB D drive, 6GB E drive, 1.5GB F drive, and 2.2GB hidden drive (EISA configuration). I was unable to benchmark the hidden and F drive (the latter because there wasn't enough space left on it), but here are the numbers for the C, D, and E drives.

Everun_note_cdrive 

Everun_note_ddrive 

Everun_note_edrive

I'm not sure why the C and D drives return almost the same scores when the C is supposedly a faster SLC disk, but those are the results of the CrystalDiskMark test.

Battery Life

Everun_note_battery

The Everun Note is powered by a removable li-polymer battery (3.7V, 5600mAh) that will keep the unit running for about 2 to 2.5 hours of web browsing over WiFi, depending on usage and power scheme. An extended battery (3.7V, 7520mAh) is available as an optional accessory.

Conclusion

The amount of times I've had to rewrite this conclusion is indic ative of my feelings about the Everun Note D24S. Though some of its features are extraordinary, there's still something about the device that feels . . . not ordinary . . . but unfinished to me.

Everun_note_final

It has a USIM slot that isn't prewired with an antenna, a powerful CPU that can't be used fully when running on battery power, a responsive touchscreen that would be more useful if the screen could swivel like a convertible, and a great touch-typable keyboard that's hampered by a non-standard layout. None of these are dealbreakers in and of themselves (and many have workarounds), but their cumulative effect on me is negative.

I think the Everun Note is an excellent choice for a certain kind of user (great value for the price, versatile usage scenarios, easily upgradeable, usable without peripherals, etc.), but it's just not for me. I don't need the power of the Turion, I already have a "desktop" machine (my Vaio TZ), and yes, I'll admit it, I'm so enamored with the Vaio P that the Note kind of bores me. If not for the processor, arguably its most compelling feature, wouldn't it bore you a little too?

The Raon Digital Everun Note is available now from Dynamism in various configurations starting at $599. The high-end D24S model reviewed here is priced at $999.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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