Battery life isn’t only about CPU and GPU though as BT, WIfi and Screen play just as big a role. I’m happy to report that Raon appear to have used quality parts here and the overall result is a PC that’s able to return better than average efficiency. 9W average drain with Wifi, 30% brightness and power-save mode (a standard, indoor browsing setting) is as good as on any 7″ device that we’ve tested. Minimum drain reaches down to about 8W which is what Im seeing right now as I write this section of the review using WordPad with 50% screen brightness and no wifi or Bluetooth enabled. Unfortunately, due to the size of the device, there’s no space for even a small netbook style battery. Raon have squeezed in 20Wh of capacity into the standard battery which translates to a max 3hrs offline use and 2hrs 15 minutes of online use. IF you push the device with some heavy processing and forget to turn off radios, its easy to take the device into the 1-1.5hrs range. Not exactly thrilling! Raon obviously want everyone to get the best out of this system though so they’ve already announced a hi-cap battery which will extend the battery life by +45%. That’s 4.5 hours off offline use and 3.5hrs of online use which, when you consider that youll have a spare 2hrs standard battery in your pocket, isn’t a bad solution. Add the flexibility of a car charger and external battery charger which, we’re hearing wont break the bank and you have more of that modular computing system that we mentioned earlier.
Lets step away from the performance for a minute and look at the build of the device from a quality, aesthetic and usability standpoint. The white version I have here is video cassette case sized and looks like a big Nintendo DS. The plastics are good quality and overall, it seems rugged enough to withstand the normal mobile use scenarios. The screen hinge isn’t as tight as others i’ve tried and its got a little too much ‘creakyness’ for my liking but at the moment, its good enough. Certainly the clamshell design helps a lot to protect screen and keyboard when not in use and the white finish hides all those fingerprints. A black version is planned though (not initially) and this would probably appeal to more people. At 750gm, its very light and a good size for holding in securely one hand, both closed and in-use.
To asses usability we need to first look at that keyboard. Its very small and has a non-standard layout where the punctuation keys have been moved to the top to allow the designers to build in alpha keys that have a 16mm pitch. That’s bigger than the Eee PC keyboard and you certainly notice it when typing long text like this. There are a few point to note though. The punctuation keys take some getting use to and slow the experience down, the key travel is minimal and again, something that the user needs to adjust to and there’s something not quite perfect about key registration. The error rate in terms of missed key presses seems to be higher than it normally is. It could be a result of not hitting keys on the center of the keycap as I get used to the device but I have a feeling that slightly more pressure is required than i’m used to.
To keep the overall depth of the device to a minimum, Raon have removed the mouse touchpad and replaced it with an optical mouse pointer of the type that you’ll find on the original Everun. On that device it works well, on the one I have here I feel that I’ve got a faulty part. Trying to wipe a finger over the mouse doesn’t result in a one-for-one smooth mouse movement and yet, if I use the side of my thumb (as you would hit a spacebar) it works almost perfectly. Even if it is a faulty part and other devices are perfect, its tougher to use than a mouse pad and many will find it annoying to start with. Fortunately its not a problem as the touch layer on the screen is soft and responsive; A real pleasure. As a mouse pointer and controller its great but its almost useless as a place to do handwriting. Vectoring issues prevent any form of serious ‘tablet’ use which probably why Raon delivered this with XP Home. A touch-and-hold right click would have been nice but if you use the FN button when touching the screen it implements the right click. Its easy to get used to. The screen as the mousepad works very well though and is obviously a better choice than a handwriting-friendly touch layer on this type of device.