The Everex Cloudbook: A Fun Machine, Warts and All
The Everex Cloudbook is one of the more recent entries into the realm low-power portable computers that come pre-loaded with Linux. In the case of the Cloudbook, it comes with gOS “Rocket,” which is based on Ubuntu. It is the perfect companion to the Sager laptop I recently purchased and reviewed, in that it virtually everything that the Sager isn’t. Small, light, and virtually pocketable. All while being powerful enough for most of the day-to-day tasks that come up while I’m out and about.
You can find the specs on the Everex site, so I won’t go over them in detail. After using the Cloudbook for the better part of two weeks, I would call the performance “fast enough.” It’s adequate for “typical” office tasks and light media, but don’t expect a world-class number cruncher.
The screen is surprisingly nice. Despite its size I find it bright and readable. I’ve also grown quite fond of the weird pointer arrangement when using the machine out and about and while riding in my vanpool. Holding the machine in the proper way to acccess the trackpad and buttons feels very natural while on the go, and this is a bit of design I really appreciate.
I find the keyboard to be a bit fiddly for me, but even with my big hands I find it acceptably comfortable after a few minutes of adjusting. This is something I can’t say of the Asus eee; I was never able to get that keyboard to feel even close to right. It seems though that with the thought that went into the design of the pointing device, similar thought would have been put into the keyboard. While holding it, one naturally wants to use it as a thumb board, but it’s too large for that to be comfortable, so you end up changing hand position when you need to type, and are forced to find a place to set the Cloudbook down.
Replacing the normal keyboard with a thumb board may have positioned the Cloudbook strangely since it’s clearly larger and more capable than devices that use such things, but I think it might have been a good choice. I can imagine solid arguments for either the thumb board or the traditional approach in this form-factor, if only it were interchangeable!
Hardware wise, my only real complaint is the wireless card. The card itself seems fine, but it relies on a tiny antenna located on the right side of the unit. As a result its signal reception is not nearly as good as it should be. I’m actually in the process of modifying mine (it’s guts scattered over my workbench as I write this!) by either adding a better antenna, or actually moving the card.
There is quite a bit of empty space in the bezel around the screen, and since the wireless card is a standard USB device that has simply been unshelled, creating a USB extension and mounting it in the screen will likely be a simple task. If my highly unscientific tests are even remotely accurate, it will yield substantially better wifi reception. So much so, I really have to wonder why it wasn’t done that way right from the start.
On the software side of things, you have the familiar Ubuntu under glossy green facade. I rather like some of the UI adjustements they have made. It makes for a fresh, modern looking desktop. I just wish the engineers had been more thourough in making accommodations for the 7″ 800×480 screen. Modern software is just not designed to be used on a screen of this size, and there are some cases where windows flow off screen, or things just end up feeling cramped.