If this is true, I won’t be surprised because there’s been a trail of hints over the last few months that have already led me to put warnings out about Viliv.
According to not one, but two of our business contacts, Viliv is just about ready to shut up shop. Our sources tell us that Viliv have been in receivership for a while and despite trying to find a buyer for some of their unique ultra-mobile computing solutions, have failed to secure a future for them. It looks like its the end of the road for Viliv and we’re just waiting for formal, public confirmation.
The clues started back at the end of March when one of our contacts at Viliv announced they were leaving. A short time afterwards, Viliv abruptly called Â stop to their long-term banner advertising with us. No amount of discounting could win them back. Considering their positive feedback in the past, it was a surprise. Then, at the important Computex trade show in June, Viliv were a no-show. Since then we’re seeing summer holiday announcements on their myviliv website and have also heard that their US support number has been closed. We’ve also been unable to get any contact with Viliv for comment or update on their products.
Interestingly there’s one large reseller in the UK that has just started to take pre-orders on the new Viliv X70 SlateÂ . Â Let’s see if any action is taken to close that channel over the next weeks. Given the information we have, we don’t expect those pre-orders to be fulfilled.
As for support and sales of stock, we susupect it will be spotty from now on. At this stage, it would be prudent to buy from a reputable dealer but do bear in mind that parts, accessories and return-to-base repairs may be difficult.
Viliv were a pioneer and a true believer in the pro-mobile space. Their products were always class-leading in terms of quality and features. To us this sends an important message out to everyone. Developing and selling pro-sumer mobile products is a tough business. Buying them is almost as hard but as always, we’ll keep you updated on solutions as they appear. Fingers-crossed that someone else picks up the X70 Slate design as it could have been a unique Windows 8, Meego and Android tablet.
Let’s say you need a UMPC. It’s not as uncommon as some people think. It might not be the consumers cup of tea but in industry, mobility counts for a lot. Logistics, amateur pilots, health industry, blue-light industry, traveling geeks and other situations where full capability, compatibility and flexibility in the smallest package is key. The problem is, if you need a UMPC today, what the hell are you going to buy?
Lets put down a little wish-list for the sake of the argument.
Sub-1KG, Windows 7 support, 5hrs battery life 5-8.9â€ screen, easy conversion to keyboard/screen device. Price under $1000.
The shortlist I would recommend right now would be the following but they are all ‘last-gen’ UMPCs, at least a year old and going out of stock, and probably entering the end-of-life phase.
UMID mbook SE â€“ Thx to Gearsguy for the information on the availability and videos. I’ve included one of the videos below.
If you need a keyboard, the mbook SE, UH900 and N5 are worth a look. The Archos 9 is good value at under 450 Euro right now and the X70 is a great performer. Isn’t it underwhelming that these devices are all over a year old though.
One device I took a second look at was the Toshiba Libretto W100. Originally this device was available for 1100 Euro. Today, it’s under 600 Euro in Europe making it an interesting option because of its CPU – Pentium Dual-Core U5400 with 2x 1.20GHz that comes in at about 130% the processing power of a high-end dual-core Atom part. It also includes 2048MB Ram and a 62GB SSD. This is certainly an ultra mobile workhorse but the design and battery life are going to be issues for some. 3hrs isn’t that exciting.Â Interestingly this could make a super ultra-mobile video editing platform.
This dearth of options in this space is because of two things. Firstly, Menlow is out and Oaktrail isn’t yet in. There isn’t really another platform to think about right now although I’ve got my eye on AMDs Z-01 We’re going to have to wait for a set devices on Oaktrail for another few months. The other issues is the 10â€ tablet craze. It puts designs at around the 1KG mark and limits usability. The Viliv X70 is one to keep an eye out for but based on the silence from Viliv, I’m guessing it’s not close to being available yet.
Widening your choices
Netbooks, starting at about 1.2KG (2.6lb) and large-format Windows tablets (again 1.2KG when a keyboard is added) along with 5~ and 7~ Android tablets and the iPad2 all need consideration. Even the >4â€ Android phones with the latest CPUs. As Meego filters in, keep an eye on that too as it spans mobile and desktop environments. Finally, Honeycomb and WebOS are operating systems to watch. Personally I have high hopes for Honeycomb as one of the more flexible operating systems to cross-over into a productive and flexible environment and that could happen on either ARM or Intel.
Choosing a platform for 2012
Oaktrail â€“ Intel’s Z6xx series. We’ve seen it running Windows, Android and Meego already, it will run Chrome OS and there should be forward compatibility with Windows 8 making it, in my opinion, one of the most interesting ultra-mobile platforms out there right now. Intel builds of Honeycomb and Meego should be able to squeeze more battery life out of it too. There’s a 2X graphics improvement over Menlow (GMA600 vs. GMA500) and even hardware 720p video encoding which could speed up video rendering. At 1.5Ghz, it’s not the most CPU-powerful platform but Intel have already talked about 1.8Ghz versions and I’m sure, if the platform becomes popular, we could see dual-core versions too. Why Oaktrail and not Cedar Trail? Because it’s got power management capabilities that Cedar Trail hasn’t got.
Waiting for Sandy Bridge.
Sandy Bridge in ultra-low-voltage guise is very interesting. I recently tested an AMD-E350 based Lenovo S205. It was good. It’s TDP (CPU+GPU) is 18W and the CPU performance is high-end Atom level. Sandy bridge, on the other had also comes in 17W TDP variants but the CPU performance on these simply blows Atom, E-Series Fusion and even first-gen Core parts out of the water. with around 5x the CPU performance of an Atom CPU along with some good GPU performance. Price is high as we’ve seen with the Samsung Series 9 but that devices comes in at 1.3KG with 6hrs of battery life and serious compute power. It’s a sign that Ultrabooks could push down in to even smaller and lighter designs.
My plan. What’s yours?
Today I sold my last netbook / laptop. Over the last few months I’ve been having a clear-out and now I’m left completely without any sort of mobile productivity device. It’s a nice position to be in but it’s going to be a tough decision. Right now I’m favouring the Samsung TX100 / Gloria / PC7 Slider on Oaktrail because I’m interested in Oaktrail performance and multi-OS scenarios. I’m worried about the CPU performance though. I’m also looking carefully at that Toshiba W100/W105 show above. I think I can run PowerDirector video editing suite on that and get some usable 720p rendering speeds that should be 2x what the Oaktrail platform can produce. Finally, Samsung have another very interesting product in the Series 9 laptop on Core i5 Sandy Bridge. It’s an expensive item but a real mobile workhorse. And why am I looking at all these laptop-style devices? Because after spending 7 months with the Galaxy Tab I’ve found that there are fewer things I need to do on a laptop now and those things generally involve high-productivity working with Video, Images and multiple windows. The 7â€ tablet has filled a great position but along with my new requirement to product 720p videos, has pushed up my requirements for a laptop.
As promised, here’s the video over view of the Viliv X7 Android Tablet. Key feature here is the big, 21wh battery and of course, that good quality Viliv engineering. They are ‘targeting’ $399 with 3G but we’ll have to re-visit that nearler launch in March/April
I have been predicting a 20-30% all-round improvement in battery life with Oaktrail. I might be wrong. Viliv are showing their new Oaktrail-based X70 UMPC and it’s coming in at 420gm, with 6.5hr battery life. The previous X70 was about 650gm so that’s a great improvement. I’m hearing the same message all over.
It appears that all Oaktrail devices are going to be available earliest in March 2011 and the X70 is no different. I’ve got a video for you later so stick around for that.
The X70 runs Windows 7 out of the box and Viliv claims that it’s the â€œslimmest and lightestâ€ Windows tablet in the world, but I’m certain that there’s some subtext to that claim. The 7â€ 1024×600 screen has been upgraded to a capacitive touchscreen which will certainly improve the input experience. Viliv says that the X70 will use â€œIntel’s next generation mobile CPUâ€, but we’re still waiting for specifics on that front. For the time being, we do know that the device will have 2GB of RAM and weigh 0.926lbs (420g).
You can keep an eye on up to date specs, links, and additional info at our Viliv X70 tracking page. I’m sure Chippy will do his best to get some hands-on time with this device at CES 2011, so stay tuned! Here’s another press shot for the road:
What would CES be without a good tease? We don’t have any more information than in the pictures but we’re definitely meeting with Viliv at an early stage at CES to find out more about the X7 ‘Anywhere Connectivity’ Android tablet and the X10 and X70. We suspect the latter is a re-design of the original X70 EX using Oaktrail and Windows 7 but as we said, there’s no information available at the moment. The X70 EX was UMPC of the year for us over at UMPCPortal in 2009 so we’re expecting good things. The X10, a 10.2â€ Android tablet is touted as having ‘longest’ battery life and is likely to be a development of what we saw at Computex.
All will be revealed in the first few days of CES so keep it tuned to Carrypad.
For those looking for the perfect handheld PC for road-warrior and productivity work, the Viliv N5 has to be near the top of the list. Sliders and tablets are great but nothing beats the clamshell format for practicality in terms of usage and ruggedness. Very similar to the UMID BZ, the Viliv N5 offers a desktop operating system on a very efficient Intel Menlow platform with long battery life, an excellent video playback experience (up to 1080p tested successfully without any modifications) fast SSD and, in the version we’re testing here, the convenience of built-in 3G. The optical mouse really helps navigating round Windows where sometimes, a small touchscreen isn’t the best solution and, like the Fujitsu UH900, the N5 goes for a keyboard size that works for both touch-tapping and thumb usage although as always with keyboards that try and do both, it’s not optimal for either scenario.
In testing over the last 4 days I’ve been impressed with the multitasking performance of the device. Compared to the UMID BZ it offers a smoother experience with none of the SSD-overload that is all too easy to experience on the BZ. The finish of the device is fantastic and represents Vilivs usual attention to detail.
On the downside there’s no analogue video out (the VGA, composite, S-Video port is blanked-off) and the screen touch-layer is heavier than a lot of modern UMPCs. The brightness, too, is noticeably less than on other devices, especially the BZ. Windows 7 Home Starter limits how you can change your desktop (setting the display DPI to 125% really helps though and the video below was taken before I had made that adjustment.) The 32GB SSD is partitioned for a recovery installation and you end up with just 11GB of user disk space.
A note about battery life.
As I type this I’m seeing 25% battery left after 2.5hrs of use which equates to over 3hrs online usage. The screen brightness has been at 100% during this period and both Wi-Fi and 3G have been on concurrently for about 1 hour of this. Unfortunately, the battery life indicator on the Viliv N5 only shows remaining capacity in steps of 5% and it can be inconsistent and non-linear. With careful set-up, I expect users to be able to get 4hrs out of the device but not much more than that. The battery has only 15Wh capacity so with Windows 7 on the Menlow platform, don’t expect anything more than this.
All the important points are covered in the video below but as I write this, a second video is uploading which compares the Viliv N5 to the UMID BZ. There are advantages on both devices and as we learn about the UMID SE, maybe there’s a third option coming soon. Stay tuned for a second post focusing on the differences between the UMID BZ and Viliv N5.
Just as we expected, the Dynamism pricing details for the Viliv N5 that we did our Open Review on last night are now available. Dynamism have sent the details over and as with previous Viliv launches, are including a special offer. If you order between July 6th and July 15th you get a free battery worth $50. That’s worth having because the N5 battery is tiny and yet appears to offer 3-5 hours of usage.
As we already know, there are only two models of the N5 available and both are Atom 1.3Ghz based with a relatively fast SSD. The 3G model also has voice capability.
Event Date:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â July 6th 1PM EST through July 15th Shipping Date:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â July 19th and fulfilled based on order date Promotion:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Free spare battery ($50 value) 32GB SSDÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $649 32GB SSD with 3GÂ Â Â $799
Details and pre-order will be up at Dynamism later today.
We would have liked to have seen cheaper pricing of course, especially considering the similar UMID BZ is only $499 but the N5 does look (and perform) slightly better than the UMID BZ. With more RAM and faster SSD it’s more of a multi-tasker and definitely Windows 7 capable. Remember though that there’s no video-out and you only get Windows 7 Home Basic.
JKK and I will continue testing the N5 over the next week or two so keep an eye out for more content from us and if you want to discuss the N5, i’ve opened a new sub-forum. As usual, all the specifications along with links and comparison devices are in the UMPCPortal database.
First things first, Pocketables have a full review of the Viliv N5 up. They seem to be very happy with the device although there’s confirmation that there’s no video-out port. It’s been blanked-off. Click-through for the full review.
There will be a live video and audio feed along with a chat channel for questions and discussions. I hope you can make it. I hope my Viliv N5 can make it too! If not, my UMID BZ will be there as a comparison. We’ll try and include comparison thoughts about the UH900 too.
We will try to record the main part of the session.
Viliv have just shipped an N5 to me (and I suspect other bloggers) for long-term testing and it’s expected here on the 25th. (Friday) so if all goes to plan, you should be seeing an unboxing video on Friday afternoon. I’ll try and sync up with JKK to get a live session going too.
As for availability, I’m expecting the delivery here to coincide with an announcement of pricing and availability at Dynamism so stay tuned over the next few days.
The N5 has been the #1 device on the UMPCPortal product list for a long time now so obviously a lot of people are interested in it. You can find out more, see videos and view additional information from other websites through our Viliv N5 tracking page.
This rendering is actually looking quite nice, but we won’t necessarily see this design. Viliv says that, while the X10 (Android) Slate will be shipped by them, this X10 (Windows) Slate is a design that may or may not be sold to other manufacturers that will apply their own branding.
Interestingly, Viliv’s specs sheet mentions that the screen is capacitive with â€œpen inputâ€. It’s possible to do multi-touch on a resistive screen and thus â€œpen inputâ€ would simply mean using a stylus. However, because the screen is capacitive, the only way to get pen input would be with an active digitizer (or a capacitive stylus, but that’d be a gimmick on Viliv’s part) â€“ which would mean a pretty awesome digital notetaking experience on this device â€“ unlike some of the other slates we’re seeing. It’s possible that the wording on the spec sheet was a mix-up for this early concept, though it’d be great to see an active digitizer on this device.
It’s slim and interesting but don’t get too excited about the X10 with Windows because the Windows version a trial design by Viliv who are looking for someone else to manufacture it. While we were discussing the device though it was interesting to hear that Viliv are confident they can transition on Menlow, the Intel platform they are currently using, to Oak Trail in 2011. It brings hope that we’ll get a number of ‘refresh’ devices with lighter, slimmer designs and better battery life. Thanks to Viliv for the invitation to view these behind-the-scenes devices at Computex 2010.