We’ve tested the Menlow platform extensively on 4 different PCs now and we’re extremely happy with it’s balance of performance and efficiency for mobile usage. We pages load promptly and media playback works well. As a synthetic test, we ran CrystalMark:
CrystalMark test results
CPU, GPU and Memory scores are all on par with other 1.3Ghz devices we’ve tested but you can see the exceptional SSD speed results in the second set of results. (right hand side.) The lowest line of results, a 4KB read and write test, is important. The 1.192 figure is slightly lower than expected but certainly not critically bad.
The Viliv X70 includes the Intel US15W chipset which uses the GMA500 GPU and video decoding hardware for H.264, WMV, MPEG4 and MPEG2. Out of the box, Windows XP isn’t set up to use this hardware so video decoding results with Windows Media Player aren’t as good as they could be. Viliv have worked round this problem and enhanced the video playback performance by including a video playback application called Viliv Player. It’s a simple video player but a useful one as it enables some high performance playback using the build in hardware decoding. Not only does this improve the performance, it saves battery life by keeping the CPU usage down. Results were the same as we’ve tested on the Viliv S5. For example, when playing a 4mbps 720Ã—400 DivX, the CPU level was at about 30%. A 1280Ã—720 H.264 file (at 3.5Mbps with AC3 audio and subtitles in a Matroska envelope) played perfectly with just 25% CPU utilisation. There appears to be some acceleration of WMV files too but this doesn’t seem to be as good. A 6.5Mbps file we played started stuttering after about 20 seconds. In general though, the media player performance is very good and the colours, sharpness and contrast are exceptional and the experience on the 7 inch screen is one of the best we’ve seen.
[Note: Video playback results will vary with different files, filters, drivers and playback software]
As for inline flash video, the normal quality YouTube videos work well in both windowed and fullscreen modes. HQ videos are smooth in windowed mode but we’re seeing better results than on the S5 in full screen HQ mode. Certainly this XBox promo video plays smoothly and impressively. The 1.3Ghz CPU is not powerful enough to show HD quality YouTube videos despite these being in H.264. The flash player does not link with the Intel hardware to enable hardware decoding. [Tip: YouTube HD videos can be downloaded with the help of 3rd party software and then played offline from the disk outside the flash environment. ]
Audio quality from the Viliv X70 is excellent in comparison to other UMPCs. The speakers are loud and clear. Better than the S5 although some background hiss was present. The audio output is very clean though and easily usable as a HiFi source. The Bluetooth stack is capable of A2DP too so there are good options for listening to audio tracks.
Web Camera Performance
The WebCam is reasonable quality and is driven by the Cyberlink YouCam software (which provides a virtual webcam interface to other software and allows the user to insert overlays and effects and includes recording and snapshot capabilities) and works extremely well with Skype. In a test between the X70 and the Gigabyte Touchnote that I have, the quality, framerate and colour was very good. The Cyberlink live effects are fun to play with too. The offset webcam position is the only issue to note.
Heat and noise.
Viliv have designed the X70 without fan which results in silent operation. There is some warmth after prolonged use and the metal mount point can get very hot indeed. We’re surprised that the bigger form factor appears to generate more heat than the Viliv S5 under load. We would not recommend leaving this device in the case, in a bag while under any medium to high load. If you are going to leave it on in a bag or case, ensure that the screen is off and that the device is set to power-save mode.
We have seen two instances where the X70 has failed to go into standby. This might be related to 3G activity but we can not be sure. A forced power-off resulted in a (successful) disk check on reboot. In normal usage we haven’t seen any crashes or ‘blue screens.’
Boot-up, standby, hibernate speeds
Boot-up from cold is very quick at about 30 seconds from power-on to being able to use the Windows XP start menu. Standby (return) takes about 5 seconds. Viliv claim a standby time of 150hrs. We have not tested this.
Due to the small disk size, fast cold boot and long standby times, we recommend that hibernation is turned off to save disk space.
As with the S5, Viliv don’t seem to have completely implemented battery information status into XP. All you get is a battery % indicator without the estimated remaining battery time. Users are used to seeing estimated battery life on XP so this is a noticeable shortfall on the X70. [Update: We are in contact with Viliv on this issue and it may be resolved in the final build. We will update this report when we get info.]
We tested the X70 EX with Battery Eater and the X70 was able to run this test, a full-load GPU, CPU and disk test with Wifi on and a screen brightness of 50% for 5 hours. Based on this we expect the X70 EX to return around 6 hours of Wifi-on browsing, over 10 hours of MP3 playback and about 5-6 hours of video playback. The X70 EX is the most energy efficient 7 inch PC we’ve ever tested.
A SirfStarIII GPS chipset is included and as with the S5, we had some initial problems getting it to work. A ‘GPSSwitch’ application is included and this is supposed to toggle the baud rate of the COM2 port between 4800 and 9600 helping programs to attach to the GPS but the program failed with an error and our simple iPoki client couldn’t get any figures from the GPS. Once we had downloaded VisualGPS (recommended for testing GPS on windows) and monitored the port (COM 2 at 9600bps) until it had a lock, the ipoki client worked. Once a lock was established, the unit was able to retain a signal in the middle of a house on the first floor which is a good result.
- Firefox3, Tweetdeck and Twhirl all tested perfectly as expected.
- Skype V188.8.131.52 works well. Built in mic and camera are good. No echo issues. Sound quality good.
- YouTube – works well All normal quality YouTube videos tested well in windowed and full-screen mode. All HQ videos tested worked in windowed mode. Many worked perfectly in full-screen mode too.
- ITunes works smoothly. Including 3D cover flow effects.
- Other software tested: Ipoki plugin with built-in GPS.
In general we don’t expect any software compatibility issues. The CPU and GPU define the limits of this device. We don’t recommend it for heavy 3D work. (Gaming)
Firefox load times.
- Firefox application startup time: 3.5 seconds
Page load examples (full script and flash support over Wifi.)
- UMPCPortal: 10 seconds
- Google News: 2 seconds
- CNN.com 7 seconds
- Facebook 3 seconds to login screen
- uk.yahoo.com: 3 seconds
- Techmeme: 6 seconds
- Gmail (full version): 7 seconds
- Google Reader (1000+ items): 4 seconds
Overall, page loading times were extremely fast and in some cases, matched desktop speeds indicating that the X70 EX is capable of processing web data as fast as web servers can serve it.
We haven’t tested any games with the X70 and due to the relatively poor 3D performance figures, wouldn’t recommend this for modern gaming.
Bluetooth quality was not extensively tested. The system uses BlueSoleil version 5.4.256 which, in our opinion based on a number of devices running the same stack, is stable and easy to use.
We had no problems at all with Wifi configuration or reception. Reception appears to be slightly better than average for UMPCs. The Marvell sd8686 only supports B and G modes.
The HSPA modem provides support for the latest UMTS standards and we were able to get good results from a local cell with downloads of 1.5mbps and uploads to 800kbps (proving that it supports high-speed upload.) However, reception drops off fairly rapidly. In an underground cellar test, the X70 EX was unable to get any signal. Only a few devices that we’ve tested have passed this test though so it’s an extreme case. In normal use, the reception seemed perfectly acceptable.
According to Viliv, the extendable antenna helps with edge-of-cell use but we were unable to detect any change in reception quality of transfer speeds.
The pre-installed software, ‘Mobile Partner’ v 11.3 from Huawei is good and provides a nice set of usage statistics. SMS’s can be sent and received easily through this interface too.
USB transfer capability.
The mini-usb portcan be used for direct transfer of data to another Windows-based (or Apple-based, we understand) PC as it contains built in USB transfer hardware and memory that contains transfer software. The feature is the same as you get with USB transfer cables and provides a very fast way to transfer data. The video below demonstrates this feature.
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