By September 22, 2009

Viliv S5 Premium 3G review

Introduction

A while ago now, Matt produced an unboxing video for the first UMPC review device we’ve had for some time. Ultra Mobile PC’s have seen their market shrink rapidly in the face of cheaper and cheaper netbooks on one side, and feature rich mobile devices.

So can Viliv provide me with a reason to use a UMPC again?

The Viliv S5 Premium 3G

The Viliv S5 Premium 3G

 

Viliv S5 premium 3G specification:

  • Viliv S5
  • CPU type: Intel Atom (Silverthorne)
  • CPU speed: 1300 Mhz
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 500
  • OS: Windows XP Home
  • Display Size: 4.8" 1024 X 600
  • Hard Disk: 30 GB
  • Battery capacity: 23 (Wh)
  • Weight: 395gm / 13.9 oz.
  • Size (w/h/d mm): 154/84/24 mm
  • Physical Interfaces
    USB2.0
    Docking connector
    Line-out / Headphone (3.5mm)
    Mini USB 2.0 (client)
  • Wireless Interfaces
    802.11b/g
    BT2.0
    3G option
  • Additional Specs and Accessories (can vary)
    GPS

Have a look at Matt’s Viliv S5 unboxing video to see the product in more detail and to see what other accessories are supplied.

 

General

My first impressions were very positive. I’d never heard of Viliv, but the packaging was on a par with any of the big name device manufactures, and really did make me sit up and think "hmm… this looks impressive kit". My positive vibes continued when I took a first look at the device itself – sorry Matt, I must have missed that unboxing video!

In the box there’s a couple of quick start guides, one of which basically details the XP setup process (its installed, but you need to do that stage with the annoying music for yourself). The second quick guide is a list of hardware button combos which control how the on screen keyboards work, how to enter the BIOS, and a rescue option if things go wrong!

Under the device itself, complete with mini stylus on a lanyard, there is an AC adaptor, a set of industrial looking ear phones, and yet another "quick start guide", but one which looks more like a decent manual for the device.

That pretty much completes the boxed product, so we’ll move onto the unit itself. Its actually very impressive. I was never a fan of UMPCs but when I saw the S5 I was staggered by the size of it. It is still big, but it will genuinely fit quite easily in a jacket pocket, and unlike most similar devices, it is genuinely portable. The device has a matt finish throughout, and looks exceptionally good.

The front of the screen houses the large 4.8" screen centred horizontally, with a 5 way joystick on the left side, located above a ‘Menu’ button – more on that later. To the right of the screen there’s another 3 buttons – ‘OK’, ‘C’ (for cancel) and a strange icon on a button that has a few uses – but primarily brings up the on screen keyboard. To the extreme left and right of the front panel, are small but decent quality stereo speakers. The Viliv logo and ‘ULTRA PC PMP’ is seen at the bottom edge of the touch screen.

Front view of the Viliv S5 with its 'plectrum' stylus

Front view of the Viliv S5 with its ‘plectrum’ stylus

 

Moving to the top edge, and there are hardware buttons for volume control and a ear phone socket. There’s also a small tab, which on closer inspection, and a bit of pushing and pulling, turned out to be hiding a telescopic aerial. I was quite exited by this, but having read the manual it turns out its a "DMB Aerial"… and only useful in Korea 🙁 Boo Hiss!

Viliv S5 top view

Viliv S5 top view

 

The bottom edge is just home to a couple of heat dissipating grills, and the back is equally as plain as it consists of a huge slab of battery pack! Removing the battery allows access to the USIM socket.

Viliv S5 bottom view

Viliv S5 bottom view

 

On the left side, there is a rubber cover over a selection of input and output ports. Firstly there is a ‘multi-i/o’ socket which apparently outputs video via a selection of cables. A bit disappointing there is no standard port, but its always difficult on small devices. Theres also a full size USB port, and microusb to connect to a computer. The device is seen as a removable storage device, but the manual does insist – in bold – that you should read the manual first. I didn’t bother, and I’m still alive to tell the tale.

There is also a reset button under the cover, but the AC power socket is located just down from the cover.

Viliv S5 left side

Viliv S5 left side

 

The right hand side houses the power switch (lock, off, on), and the battery release slider.

Viliv S5 right side

Viliv S5 right side

The battery takes up the whole of the back of the unit and has a simple ‘Viliv’ logo on the back. Removing the battery reveals the SIM card slot for 3G connectivity.

The back of the Viliv S5

The back of the Viliv S5

The back of the Viliv S5

Highlights

  • High-res small screen. Clear vibrant and ultra sharp, accurate touchscreen and easy on the eyes.
  • Atom processor – it might be aging somewhat now in netbooks, but its a beast in devices like this

Lowlights

  • Minor software issues. Touch keyboard software could do with an update
  • Size – I don’t have an answer to the problem, but its still a little bit big!

 

Review

The device actually powers on very quickly – which is not bad going for XP, and you arrive swiftly at the desktop. Our review device came with a desktop full of apps. Some appear to still be in testing – “Mobile Partner” for example. You also get the usual office trial, and either Viliv, or a previous reviewer had installed all the Windows Live apps. Google Earth and a number of other popular apps were included.

There’s a start menu replacement app called the ‘Viliv Cube’ – which is nice enough, but oddly only shows the app names rather than the nice shortcut names. For example “winword.exe” rather than Word 2007.

The hardware Menu button though, oddly defaults to the built in Windows Start Menu. I don’t like these silly menu replacement systems, so it suits me, but it seems odd that Viliv don’t have it using their own software.

So I moved on and connected the device onto my wireless network. A painless experience, but thats often the case as long as you use the built in Windows Wireless Zero Configuration tool, rather than any manufacturer tools! Firefox and Internet Explorer were installed, so I went ahead and launched Firefox.

I pressed the keyboard button on the right hand side, and up popped a semi-transparent touch keyboard. This is shown on top of the bottom portion of the screen, which is generally a nice idea. However I did spot a potential flaw. If you open up the keyboard and begin typing a web address, the firefox history bar drops down on top of the keyboard, rendering it a bit useless.

That was pretty disappointing but having spoke to Viliv they did point out that I can install a number of open source and paid-for touch-screen keyboard systems. These are compatible with Windows – and indeed other operating systems – and are of various qualities. The built-in keyboard does however work fairly brilliantly elsewhere. You can actually write or edit a document on this with ease.

In fact that brings us neatly onto the screen. On such a tiny device, a resolution of up to 1024×768 is pretty impressive. Annoyingly the resolutions don’t all seem to match the aspect ratio of the screen. I eventually realized the best resolution to use was actually 1024×600 – which is still massive for such a small screen. However, text is still readable, and the screen and touch keyboard both make the device extremely usable on the move.

The usability extends beyond the touch screen though – the Viliv comes with a stylus as well, which might not be the most earth shattering news you’ve heard today, but… its on a strap! Moving on anyway… there’s also the joystick/jog dial control, which makes moving around buttons and fields within dialog boxes very quick, and very easy. No need to hit the button with your finger or the stylus, so once again Viliv have added to the usability of the device very well.

The battery life was also mightily impressive considering the size of the screen, and the built in hardware – which includes GPS and Bluetooth.

In terms of the built in GPS I can report that the hardware performs quite well. There is an option to download updated AGPS data which certainly helps with a GPS fix. Having used it at home I can can get a GPS fix even while sitting indoors. Where the problem with GPS lies is in the SatNav software that’s available for the PC. There are lots of titles out there that will work quite happily with the Viliv, Google Earth for example works just fine. The problem I found is that many of the turn-by-turn SatNav products out there do not have UK maps available. The only ‘big name’ product out there that has a UK map is Garmin Mobile PC – but that’s for another review – the Viliv itself works fine!

 

Conclusion

Viliv have really gone to town on the S5 and come up with something that could be quite special. The software package is a little bit rough around the edges, but the hardware itself is fantastic. Software, of course, is fairly easy to fix anyway and an alternative keyboard might be a cheap fix as well.

I really didn’t think I’d get on with an UMPC device, but as soon as I opened the box I was impressed with the build quality of the kit, and the styling. I realise this is a small market, but if you are after a UMPC, go get this one!

 

Review by: Mark

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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