It’s time for another look at the specs of our new V!
The story so far
In our last spec topic, we explained a bit about the form factor, went in-depth about the ports, and took a high-level look at cooling options for the device. This week, we will again be highlighting some specifications and asking your opinions. Our status topic for this project is still very limited, but as we go we will flesh out our provisionary spec sheet and put together the best 2-in-1 possible! If you want to make sure you don’t miss any chances to contribute to the development process, be sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Last time we discussed the physical connections to the new V. This week we’re looking at the ethereal ones. Which wireless signals should our new device be able to send and receive?
|Signal||V (2017)||V (2020)|
|Wi-Fi||802.11ac ‘WiFi 5’
dual-band, 2x2 MU-MIMO
|802.11ax WiFi 6
dual-band, 2x2 MU-MIMO
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.2||Bluetooth 5.0|
The obvious ones
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aren’t too hard to decide. Technology has moved on, we have newer standards with better speed, coverage, reliability and features. These are also fully backwards compatible, so no functionality is lost. We can simply move on to the new standards: WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
- That sounds about right
- That doesn’t sound right
The mysterious one
Range is always an issue with wireless devices. And if you thought that your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth range wasn’t big enough, you’ll just love NFC. Near-field communication (NFC), as the name implied, has a very limited range of up to about 4cm. Combined with a very low throughput speed, its specs aren’t very impressive. That may leave you wondering if such a wireless connection is of any use. But NFC is used in many application worldwide. It’s what allows one phone to share contact information with another just by tapping them together, it’s what allows you to open a secured door by holding your ID badge in front of a reader, and it’s what allows you to make a contactless payment with your smartwatch.
Now, we could add an NFC chip to the new V. But we wonder: are there any good use cases for NFC in Windows devices? Be sure to leave a comment with your use case!
- NFC is useful in a Windows device and I want it in the new V
- I don’t know if NFC is useful
- NFC doesn’t add any value in a Windows device, I don’t need it
The difficult ones
Anyone comparing the housing of the design concepts of the new V with that of the old V, may notice that more plastic is used. A lot of this has to do with wireless signals: they do not like traveling through metal. The plastic around the speakers in the 2017 model is sufficient for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to function properly, but when we tested GPS in our prototypes the connection was so horrible that we ultimately opted out of adding it. We also knew that though we wanted to offer a version of the device with LTE functionality, we would have to re-tool the housing with a larger plastic antenna area. This ultimately never happened. But it could happen with the new V!
We’ve already asked about cellular connections in the abovementioned design survey (be sure to vote there if you want to let us know your preferences for LTE or the design!), so we’ll just ask about GPS this time around.
- GPS is a must-have feature in my 2-in-1
- GPS is a nice-to-have feature in my 2-in-1
- I don’t need GPS in my 2-in-1
When we designed the original V, cameras didn’t receive much focus, they didn’t seem very important Sure, we needed cameras. For a quick video call, to record a lecture, to quickly digitalize a document. The consensus seemed to be that if we wanted to actually take a photo, we’d probably have a phone in our pocket with a much better camera anyway. So why bother investing in the cameras of the V?
The decision was that yes, the V should have a front- and rear-facing camera, but it wasn’t allowed to cost anything. As a result, the cameras in our 2017 model are nothing to write home about. Or video-call home about, as the case may be.
Of course we also learned since, that a lot of people actually do use their cameras, especially the front-facing one, for video conferences and more. So maybe it’s time to revisit the importance of these cameras!
When we put together the first V, we followed the logic common to smartphones that the rear-facing camera is for taking photos, the front-facing camera is ‘just’ a webcam. But for many people, especially those who have to conference remotely or want to keep in touch with distant loved ones, the webcam (or ‘selfie cam’) is one of the most important components in any mobile device. So if the rear-facing camera is just for scanning documents and the webcam determines how the world sees you, why not put the better camera on the front instead?
- The quality of the webcam is very important to me
- I’d like a quality webcam, but it shouldn’t add too much cost
- The quality of the webcam does not matter to me
Another thing the front-facing camera could be used for, is biometric facial recognition. Just look at your device, and it knows who you are and logs you in. A decade ago, that seemed the realm of science fiction, but nowadays it’s a common feature in smartphones and a basic component of Windows 10.
Microsoft calls its suite of biometric authentication features ‘Windows Hello’, and aside from facial recognition it also includes support for fingerprint readers, as was already present on the first V. For it to work with our camera though, the camera module of our device will need a secondary infrared sensor.
- I would like the Windows Hello facial recognition feature, but not a fingerprint reader
- I would like the Windows Hello fingerprint reader feature, but not facial recognition
- I would like both the Windows Hello facial recognition and fingerprint reader features
- I don’t care about Windows Hello features
The rear-facing camera can be used to take photos, scan documents, or film events. Of course, few people will want to hold up a tablet for long to film anything, especially when high-quality cameras are ubiquitous in much more light and compact smartphones. So how much does the quality of the rear camera matter? Let us know about your use cases in the comments!
- My 2-in-1 needs a great rear-facing camera that can take great photos
- My 2-in-1 needs an okay rear-facing camera that is good enough to scan a document
- My 2-in-1 doesn’t need a rear-facing camera
Our big question this week is about system memory. We are big fans of informed decisions so even though we like to see as many votes as possible, the information is most valuable when the people taking the survey know what trade-offs they are making. Some questions are very simple and speak for themselves. Sometimes we need to preface a question with a lot of information, with a wall of text as a result. We don’t want to put any readers off from thinking too much before voting, so for everyone who doesn’t like to read we’ve got a new Poll Primer!
Click here if you want all the information without watching the video
Poll Primer: Memory
Computers store information in many places, some temporary, some long-term. But when talking about ‘memory’, we usually mean Random Access Memory, or RAM. And that’s what we’ll focus on today!
So what does RAM actually do? When you boot up your computer or open a program, the necessary data stored on your hard drive or SSD is loaded into memory. Even compared to SSD’s, RAM is fast, allowing you to view and modify your work quickly. More RAM allows you to run more demanding programs or have many different apps running at once, known as multitasking. And if you run out of available memory, your CPU will need to get its information straight from the storage drive, which slows everything down. RAM is ‘volatile memory’, so if the power turns off before you save, you will lose your work.
That doesn’t mean more memory is always better. It is also relatively expensive, so if you’re not going to multitask or run demanding apps, why pay for more?
What does this mean for the new Eve V?
Back in 2016 we asked; is more memory better or just more empty space? We decided 4GB of RAM was too limiting even for an entry-level device, so the old V came with a minimum of 8GB. For more demanding users we offered an option of 16GB, the maximum amount our CPU could support. But times change, and we’d like to see if our old conclusions still apply to our next generation device!
So how much RAM do you need?
Okay, let’s say you’re a student that wants the new Eve V for emails, coursework, internet browsing and Netflix. You may be able to get by with 8GB of RAM. But what if you have other apps running in the background? You may be chatting on Discord, keep a billion tabs open in chrome for your assignment, and listen to Spotify while you work. Doing many things at once can make your device use more RAM than you think!
As a photographer or digital artist you’ll make use of complex programs like Photoshop or Lightroom, which use more RAM than your average Office apps. The files you use will also be bigger, especially when working at high resolutions. Being strict with the apps you open can limit your memory usage, but having extra RAM would be more practical. That way you can choose the workflow that’s best for you, instead of what works best for your computer.
Power users like IT professionals have a wide range of demanding use cases which eat RAM for breakfast, like running concurrent virtual machines. Content creators working with large video files will also be happy with every extra bit of RAM they can get, and some scientific applications analyze data sets so complex that they can never get enough memory!
Whether you are a student or a power user, having more memory available may improve the performance or shelf life of your device, allowing you to step into more demanding tasks in the future. But if you don’t use it, it’s just an additional cost that brings you no benefit.
An 8GB model may be a great value for casual users who don’t require the extra memory, but we do not want to cripple our device by being stingy with the specs.
On the high end, most devices in the current 2-in-1 market, even premium ones, are limited to 16GB of RAM. Offering an option for more memory could help us stand out against the competition, but it could also make our device needlessly expensive.
That’s it for this Poll Primer on memory. Now the rest is up to you! Do you think 8GB of RAM is still enough for an entry-level device in 2020? Is there any benefit to offering a 32GB model? Cast your votes below and leave a comment to let us know more about your specific use-case!
What is an appropriate amount of RAM for an entry-level device?
- 8GB – This is still sufficient for an entry-level device in 2020
- 16GB – Any less is no longer sufficient in 2020, even for an entry-level device
What is the most RAM that makes sense in a 2-in-1 nowadays?
- There is never enough memory
How much RAM would best fit your 2-in-1 use case?
- More than 32GB
Bit by bit
Bit by bit we are putting together the specifications of the new V. Keep sharing your thoughts, and we’ll create an awesome new device!