Enlarge /. The cheerful purple case is by far the best of Walmart's cheapest laptops.
A look at the technical data of the cheapest Walmart laptop – the EVOO EV-C-116-5 – makes it clear to every technical enthusiast that the device will not be a powerhouse. But the small laptop only costs $ 139, and its stats seem to fit nicely with $ 200-250 Chromebooks. I recently poned my credit card and ordered one. In purple.
It is obvious among us Arsians that the EVOO will not be a good choice for a Windows laptop. With only 2 GB RAM, the EVOO cannot do anything without using up the virtual memory (data from RAM to the hard disk and back again). In addition, a 32 GB SSD is simply not enough space for Windows itself, let alone for applications. When EVOO tries to upgrade to a new build of Windows 10 for the first time (e.g. Windows 10 Build 2004 that was released last month), it fails due to lack of space.
However, this does not necessarily mean that the laptop is completely useless. Maybe it could be reloaded with Linux – even "heavy" distributions like Ubuntu are much easier in both RAM and memory than Windows. Perhaps even the assumption that a 2 GB KiD laptop with a 32 GB SSD cannot run Windows 10 well is not entirely correct. There was only one way to find out.
|Technical data at a glance: EVOO EV-C-116-5|
|operating system||Windows 10 Home (S mode)|
|Central processor||Dual-core AMD A4-9120|
|R.A.M.||2 GB DDR4|
|GPU||integrated Radeon R3|
|Wireless Internet access||Realtek RTL873B – only 2.4 GHz, 802.11n + Bluetooth|
|SSD||Provide 32 GB (29.8 GB) eMMC|
|battery||4500 mAh at 7.6 V (34.2 WH)|
|Price as tested||$ 139 at Walmart|
The first thing a potential buyer should know about cheap laptop designs like this is that 32GB is absolutely not enough to make Windows 10 last. The second thing buyers should know is that 32 GB unfortunately doesn't mean what they think it means – if the specification specifies GB, it means GB.
Windows measures storage in GiB, not GB – and 32 GB are only 29.8 GB, another 1 GB of which is used in the recovery directory, 3 GB in the Windows swap file, and a few hundred MiB more for the hibernation file and the swap file .
If you're wondering why there is both a swap file and a swap file, it's because of Windows UWP apps. They (and only they) use the "swap file" instead of the "swap file", among other things, to save them for quick opening when the system is restarted.
The specified 2 GB of RAM are also criminally low: Even in S mode and when starting for the first time, the system only had 300 MB of headroom in RAM. This means that there is practically no memory for caching operating systems and the system continuously hits the paging file so hard that it appears criminal.
The part of this system that seems legitimately suitable for this purpose – the AMD A4-9120 CPU – also turns out to be a problem. Typically, the A4-9120 is an excellent choice for an inexpensive laptop or netbook and would compete strongly with Intel's Celeron counterparts. The EV-C-116-5 is unfortunately anything but "normal" – and the A4-9120 cannot meet its normal specifications.
This is the 11.6 "EVOO that just started in Windows 10 Home and sits on my foldable laptop stand Moft Z.
On the left we have a DC barrel jack, a USB3 type A connector and an HDMI output. There is no screen-printed label for these and you need very good lighting to read the relief symbols.
The rear view of the EVOO is easily the best angle. I like the brightly colored, simple facade and the relatively stylish logo in one corner.
On the right side of the EVOO there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack – the same size as the DC barrel jack -, a USB2 type A connector and a microSD card reader.
The keyboard of the EVOO is surprisingly good on such a small, cheap system. Except for the inexplicable random shift of the backslash, which affects the sanity of Windows and Linux power users alike.
I knew better than to have high hopes for the undervalued EVOO as a Windows computer, but I really wanted to like the little laptop. The colorful plastic case is appealing but modest, and I had high hopes that it would still be a solid Chromebook alternative for Linux users.
The EVOO's display is FHD 1080p, not the typical 1366×768 for many cheap laptops. This is a big plus for power users who need more screen space. Unfortunately, the same power users will want to defend the small laptop due to its strange reinforcement of the backslash key. EVOO decided that the backslash, which is usually directly above Enter, is better between right-Alt and right-Ctrl.
Moving this key is a problem on Windows because the backslash is the directory separator when paths are entered on the command line or in the Explorer address bar. This is also a problem in Linux command lines where the backslash is the "escape" operator used to override special use cases of characters. For example, you could use cp ! Folder / tmp / use a folder named! Copy folder, otherwise Bash would interpret the bang as an event.
The lack of screen printing on the side of the laptop's ports is another problem: the gray-gray bas-relief lettering is barely visible under normal lighting. When I first set up this laptop, I naively plugged the charger into the headphone jack and it felt perfectly good there. I only noticed my mistake when I checked the battery and wondered why it is not charging.
The USB ports on the laptop were very tight. I needed both hands and some determination to use a USB stick or wireless mouse radio on both sides of the laptop. I needed both hands and a lot of determination to get them out.
The plastic used for the EVOO chassis is unusually soft. The plastic is quite thick and the laptop is small and light, so it doesn't feel thin. However, the soft plastic is not a good sign of scratch resistance and makes handling stubborn USB plugs even more annoying.