Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand

Posted on 05 July 2010, Last updated on 10 October 2020 by

IMG_3790 Two clamshell-style handheld PCs; Both offering great features, good battery life and usability at a price that would have been unheard of a few years ago. For the ultimate in thumb-able PCs, the Viliv N5 and UMID BZ have no competition. Sure, the Fujitsu UH900 and Sony P-Series look the same but these two are in a different sizing category and make a great alternatives to the OQO Model 02+ that never was. These two devices have the same adventurous spirit that the Psion 5 had all those years ago and that says a lot.

I’ve rounded-up my thoughts in a 17-minute video below but if you want the text version, read-on. Feel free to ask questions below. I’ll attend to all of them.

Viliv N5 specifications, images, link, videos.

UMID BZ specifications, images, link, videos.

It’s actually very easy to summarise the difference between the two devices. One uses relatively low-cost components, skimps on memory and is built to a price. The other uses high quality parts both inside and out in order to offer a more rounded computing experience. A better, less stressful computing experience. The Viliv N5 is the latter and really offers more of a multi-tasking experience where you’ll be able to run 5 Firefox tabs, Media-player, Livewriter, Tweetdeck and a background media player without any real hiccups. The UMID BZ isn’t bad though because if you’re  only using one or two apps and can put up with the occasional ‘pause’, the UMID offers excellent value and even some additional features not found on the Viliv N5.

Key Differences:

Style The Viliv N5 wins hands-down. The UMID BZ looks cheap in comparison. In our experience the UMID build quality is high though.

Screen The UMID BZ screen is brighter. Noticeably brighter. If you’re looking to use these devices outside, by the window in a train or on the dash of your car, the UMID BZ is the best.

Touchscreen The UMID has a much lighter touchscreen. I find it easier to use than the slightly heavier weight of the N5 touchscreen.

External Screen Only the UMID BZ offers you a video-out possibility so if you want to use these devices for presentations or as a low-power, low-end desktop PC (it’s possible) then don’t go for the current Viliv N5. [A pro-model might add this feature at a later date.]

Keyboard VERY IMPORTANT. The N5 offers a keyboard that can be used for thumbing but is wide enough to allow a good rate of touch-tapping. The UMID offers a better thumbing keyboard (smaller width, less spongy keys) but is much harder to use on a table.

CPU The 100Mhz speed difference on the CPU is hardly noticeable. On average, you’ll probably get to see a web page 1-second quicker on the Viliv N5.

3G The N5 is available with 3G for the ultimate in mobility. The UMID BZ will need to be tethered to a mobile phone or connected to a MiFi router which isn’t as easy to set-up or use.

Price The UMID BZ is $150 cheaper than the entry-level Viliv N5.

Battery Life In tests so far, the Viliv is lasting between 3 and 3.5 hours in full use. With optimisations (lower screen brightness, good radio control) the Viliv N5 should reach 4 hours. The UMID seems to last for 4 hours without much attention from the user.

Video playback – Out of the box, the Viliv provides excellent local file playback capabilities. Up to 1080p (H.264 tested) works better than on any other ultra mobile PC we’ve tested. YouTube HQ (480p) to full-screen size works better on the Viliv N5. (Flash 10.1 and Windows 7 appear to work well together)

Phone features – The Viliv N5 is able to make voice calls through the cellular modem. (Only on the 3G version.)

Operating System – The Viliv N5 runs Windows 7 Home Starter edition. The UMID BZ offers Windows XP Home. The latter uses less memory and disk (the UMID BZ offers over 20GB of space. The Viliv N5 only 11GB. Both have 32GB drives) and neither operating systems offer any sort of special touch or input features.

Update: GPS – Correctly pointed out by a couple of people that sent emails, the Viliv N5 has GPS which makes it usable as a navigation system. There are no Windows-7 compatible (sensor) drivers though, the GPS simply appears on COM1 at 9600 or 4800 bps depending on configuration. First lock (using VisualGPS) took about 2 minutes (for full 3D fix) but the lock was lost indoors next to a window. For people thinking about using this in a car, consider the glossy screen and brightness.

Video Comparison– See the video below for an overview of the differences. For Viliv N5 specific reviews, see this page. For UMID BZ reviews, see this page.

51 Comments For This Post

  1. UMPCPortal says:

    New article: Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand

  2. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    RT @umpcportal: New article: Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand

  3. Gretchen Glasscock says:

    Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand: Two clamshell-style handheld PCs; Both offerin…

  4. Guy Adams says:

    RT @umpcportal: New article: Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand

  5. Claudia says:

    It’s a shame Viliv doesn’t offer the N5 with XP, given XP takes up less space and offers far better power management. The competition offers buyers the option of choosing which version of Windows they want and it’s an option Viliv offers for the S5, so why not for the N5?

    It also baffles that the N5 doesn’t offer video-out, considering its predecessor the S5 does.

  6. Claudia says:

    Sorry, just realized UMID only comes with XP so they don’t current offer 7. In any case, Viliv should offer XP for the N5.

  7. John in Norway says:

    Great article, Chippy.

    Two of the most important features on this type of device, for me, are: Outdoor visiblity and thumb-typing. Guess that means the UMID is better for me (especially the SE model). And it’s cheaper too! If only they were available here.

    What about the mouse thingy and buttons? Is the UMID okay to use or is it a pain having to move your hands up to the screen bezel?

  8. John in Norway says:

    Just thought of another question: Where can you actually buy the UMID BZ, apart from Dynamism? I tried ebay and came up with nothing.

  9. jackynews says:

  10. John in Norway says:

    They only had the SE model and didn’t deliver outside of the domestic market. It seems that the 32GB BZ that Chippy has isn’t available anywhere. Good way to sell things!

  11. chippy says:

    It looks like Think4 are picking it up in the UK, France, scandinavia.
    Am in touch with them to check out their profile.

  12. amukhtar says:

    It seems that the S5 is what I want. Does the 3G version support voice calls like the N5?

  13. Another fellow says:

    Due to the better outdoor visibility and better thumb typing, the UMID seems better for me. But the lack of 3G is a deal breaker. How come UMID doesnt offer 3G in a power mobility device??? it makes no sense!!!!

  14. Tommy says:

    No mouse comparison?

  15. chippy says:

    The mouse on the N5 is better, more accurate, less stress. Mouse buttons on the BZ are very clicky but the position of the mouse buttons on the N5 feels a little bit akward. You’ll get used to both though, no reason to worry.

  16. chippy says:

    Oh. and sorry about the legs in the video!

  17. Cesar Cardoso says:

    RT @umpcportal New article: Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand

  18. chris says:

    The most interesting thing for me: can one of the 2 run linux?

  19. Mark e. says:

    ether one should be able to run Linux,(they are PC’s after all) you may loose touch screen or some such due to lack of drivers but it should run on either

  20. Mark e. says:

    I ordered one (and N5) during the first 5 min. of being order-able. I’ve been looking for a replacement for my HP 200lx for 10 years now. was still carrying it till earlier this year. Sure hope this does the trick….

    Love my Moto Droid and will probably upgrade to the Droid x but as good as phones have gotten they still won’t match what I envision…. I use free form DB extensively, I will try to run MS One note and the full desktop version of Evernote on it.

  21. Jung says:

    Does N5 have lower battery capcity than S5?
    I heard that S5’s battery is 6200mah, and N5’s battery is 4250mah.
    Is this true?

  22. Chippy says:

    Yup. Smaller battery on N5 compared to S5. 4hrs max compared to 6hrs max.

  23. Claudia says:

    Actually, when I turn off WiFi and dim the screen — for example, when reading an ebook on a flight — I get up to 8 hours on my S5. That’s running XP, of course.

  24. chow says:

    Next bike tour with the N5? :]

  25. jl says:

    If these people want to be the next generation Psions at least get the damn keyboard so it can be touch typable. Chippy don’t be a shill all the time for these co”s, bring an old Psion 5 with you and show them how a small keyboard can work. Or do we have to glue one on? J

  26. Fixup says:

    GMA500’s W7 driver support HD hard decoding for Flash 10.1, while the XP driver does not. A workaround is to find the Flash cache file and play it off-line. To play HD video (Flash, H.264, MPEG2 etc.) on XP, find the CLVDPack080410.rar.

  27. Claudia says:

    Thanks for the tip, Fixup — I’ll have to try that!

  28. anon says:

    Does the base version of the N5 (without 3G) have the GPS?

  29. drifter77 says:

    Yes, the two models offered at Dynamism are identical except for the 3G option. I just ordered mine a couple of days ago, can’t wait for the 19th!

  30. TareX says:

    I think those devices will be killed off by the likes of the Samsung Epic 4G (Amazing keyboard, huge screen, amazing battery life, front camera…) Especially those coming with Flash on board. When Gingebread 4.3″ qwerty devices hit, umpc will finally rest in peace.

  31. drifter77 says:

    Problem is, you can’t compare devices with different OS. UMPCs running Windows vs smart phones using Android. A lot of factors to consider.

  32. TareX says:

    Yes, having Windows in your pocket is great and all, but with Android getting more and more functionality, there really isn’t much a small UMPC can do that Android cannot. And more importantly, Android devices are PHONES, so you can only carry them along. But UMPCs will need to be complemented with a phone.

    In addition to that, with Android’s widgets, functionality is taken to a whole new level.

  33. joe says:

    Smart phones can’t compare to Windows in your pocket. Android and iOS still have a significantly long way to go to be as useful as a UMPC. If you can’t make more use of UMPCs than smart phones then UMPCs are not for you. For the others who can then UMPCs are great products.

  34. Minions says:

    Hate to say this since I love android, but android has pretty much nothing as far as games are concerned. It’s version of office applications does not even compete with windows version and there are alot of browser incapatabilities that a full desktop browser will overcome. These are weaknesses of a new os that is still an infant. Given a few years android will grow (as it already has become massivly adopted, and quickly sdeveloped) and we will see changes. Comparing a phone os to a desktop os is not a good comparison even on a umpc.

  35. Tai Pang says:

    I own a Viliv S5 and a UMID M1 book. The built quality and battery of S5 is superb. However I have a problem with the WiFi after waking up from hibernation. There is also a problem with my 3G dongle.
    As for the UMID M1, the built quality is inferior and the battery drains slowly. In a few days’ time, the battery will be flat if leave attaching to the computer. The response is crisp for M1 and I can always reset the WiFi by pressing the special button provided.
    I have no idea about the N5 or UMID BZ/SE. Anyone can tell about the WiFi issue ?

  36. drifter77 says:

    Dynamism has started shipping the N5 3G!!! It’s available in stock two days before the mentioned date… and mine is on the way :)

  37. FredericDuy says:

    Drifter , u answered my question on the other thread about installing windows xp and the drivers. So bottom line is , its going to be exactly the same cept for 3g right? I will still play perfect 1080p?

  38. drifter77 says:

    The N5 with Windows 7 Starter can play 1080p out-of-the-box with the cyberlink codecs. For XP (which I still have on my home desktop), your best bet is installing CCCP codecs ( and using windows media player classic. It should run HD ready and full HD with no problem.

    I’m thinking of installing XP after fiddling with Win7 for a while, just for the sake of comparing speed and performance, only worried about the 3G driver.

  39. FredericDuy says:

    DAMMIT DRIFTER U GOT YOURS ALREADY i cant wait any longer >.<

  40. drifter77 says:

    No man it’s still on the way! Should get it within a couple of days.

  41. boomboom says:

    for 650, this shit better be good. mine is on the way

  42. Yanovski says:

    does anybody know whether there is a way to bring the resolution to 800×480? So that the screen becomes more usable?

  43. ST says:

    Is the headphones jack work also with combo headphones/mic set ?

  44. Todd says:

    I was hopeful when these projects were first announced but they don’t come close to being a Psion Series 5mx replacement in the following ways; not instant on, the 5mx used AA batteries that ran the unit for a week, or more, and it was easy to have a space set of batteries, they look a bit too big to be as portable as the 5mx (meaning the 5mx fits in my front pocket). I still don’t understand why someone didn’t take the 5mx, keep the form and operating system, and just add wi-fi, and perhaps bluetooth.

  45. FredericDuy says:

    Mine arrived this morning , im not happy , the bottom right corner of the screen is popping out and i dont want to return it because shipping charges are too expensive. What should i do? how do i fix this? Seriously i payed 800$ for this crap.

  46. FredericDuy says:


  47. ST says:

    Frederic , What do you mean is popping out , can we see picture ? It cant be that bad.

  48. anon says:

    Where did you order it from? Could you contact Viliv and arrange for a replacement you wouldn’t have to pay the shipping for?

    Any product will have some bad units in the production run and I would think Viliv should be eager to protect their reputation as a quality manufacturer.

  49. Frederic says:

    I meant the bezel , its leaning out sometimes and i just push it in
    And for the people who has the n5 , both of ur speakers work right? Or it is just the left one thats the real speaker?

  50. Frederic says:

    To Anon , i got it from dynamism what shoulld i do contact viliv or dynamism? but first i need to make sure that the right sppeaker is actualy a speaker .

  51. John in Norway says:

    In his review Chippy says there’s only 1 speaker.

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