Are we entering a new era of mobile computing where the UMPC could be the only computer you ever need? The processing module you can take anywhere? Raon Digital are breaking into exactly that category of converged mobile devices with the new and interesting Everun Note. Here at UMPCPortal we’ve been lucky enough to get hold of one of the first samples out of the door for some long term testing but after 4 days of hard but enjoyable testing, were ready to bring you the full review.
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We all struggle with the constant battle to understand device categories. UMPCs, netbooks, MIDs and other labels that, on the whole, are simply there so that the manufacturers can produce multiple similar devices with different target customers, pricing, and marketing strategies. If you look back at every term we use today you’ll find that it came from a sales/marketing/PR group and I bet that all of them have their roots in generating new revenue. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were a computing company that didn’t have to worry about existing product ranges though. You have a completely free and open remit to make a device that spans as many markets as possible and would end up with something at the limits of technology, not at the limits of shareholder acceptance! OQO did it with the 02 and now Raon have done it with the Everun Note.
Yes, it appears that Raon Digital have broken through with a new class of device here. Its much smaller than a netbook (less than half the volume, 70% of the weight) and yet it packs a CPU and GPU that can leave netbooks standing. It has a 7″ 1024×600 touchscreen, a full keyboard and 3G upgradeability. The version I have here runs windows XP and runs with a 30GB hard drive and 1GB RAM. SSD, 60G and no-OS purchase options are available. Wifi and Bluetooth are standard along with 2 USB ports, an SD card port, SIM card port, stereo speakers and 1.3mp cam. Regular readers will immediately think about the Kohjinsha SC3 which is the closest in size, features and weight but where the SC3 struggles to provide a basic notebook experience with its singe-core Atom and Widows Vista, the Everun Note provides a completely different, confidence-inspiring almost desktop like experience. The dual-core AMD Turion X2 at 1.2Ghz provides oodles of raw processing power and the ATI graphics chip, a Radeon RS690E dials in 3D and video performance that I’ve never experienced on any ultra mobile PC.
What Raon have been able to do that others can’t is to concentrate on building a device that covers a wide range of computing scenarios right up into notebook territory and beyond. To say that this could be your only computing device from daily desktop to coffee shop companion is really no understatement. You will never see a device like this from Dell, HP or any of the notebook manufacturer, they simply have too much to lose if it cuts across other product categories. Raon seem to have built the core component of a very modular computing system and that’s an idea that many will like.
Many of you have already written in on the forums, the live session and in article comments to ask about heat, noise and battery life and that’s where we’ll start with the review. One finds it difficult to imagine that all this power can be contained within such a small casing without either a big and loud fan or a melting keyboard but I can put your worries to rest on those to points, Ron Digital have done an an amazing thermal engineering job and the device stays cool and quiet in most normal operations. Sure, running Unreal Tournament 2003 (yes, it works!) causes the heat levels to rise and the fan to kick in quickly and loudly but with a combined CPU/GPU TDP that is much more than any other Ultra Mobile platform, its not too surprising. A two-hour repeating 3D Mark test does the same thing but in normal use, even in full power mode as a desktop, the fan rarely winds up and can only normally be heard as a faint hum!
As for battery life, its a two-part story. What Raon have implemented is something we’ve seen in a few mobile devices before. When the plug is pulled, the BIOS or power control software caps the processor speed and the CPU/GPU switches into a power saving mode. With dual cores running at 800Mhz though, there’s plenty left for most operations. Think Atom netbook performance when on battery and you’ll get the idea. Raon even provide a power-save override button which works under external power to reduce battery drain. This could be useful with an external battery pack.