The Viliv S5 Premium UMPC is speedy and well connected, but disappointing 3G support and an awkward software keyboard make it less than ideal for everyday use.
Viliv S5 Premium: Keyboard Concerns
But the keyboard workaround is less successful. The Viliv S5 Premium displays an on-screen software keyboard. To access it you press a hardware button on the right side of the bezel; that summons an icon at the lower right of the screen, which in turn toggles a translucent software qwerty keyboard that stretches across the entire width and halfway up the height of the display.
While that makes for large keys (supported by haptics feedback), the keyboard also often winds up on top of the field or line that you're typing. The Viliv S5 Premium doesn't resize the screen's contents to accommodate the keyboard; instead, the keyboard simply covers the lower half of what's on the screen.
Being able to (sort of) see through the keys helps, but sometimes the clutter prevents a clear view. (Alternatively, you can supply your own USB keyboard and connect it to the Viliv S5 Premium's USB port.)
As a result, we found ourselves frequently tapping the keyboard's "hide" key, which makes the keyboard go away but leaves the software toggle intact, so that we could see what we'd typed or move between fields. The Viliv S5 Premium's keyboard does not automatically appear when you're in an empty text box, and there's no predictive text entry to help you along.
This setup is not a great way to work, and it's the Viliv S5 Premium's biggest drawback. Even the iPhone, with its smaller screen, does a better job of ensuring that you see what you're working on and of allowing you to move through a series of text fields.
Viliv S5 Premium: Proprietary Software
Viliv bundles proprietary software intended to give Windows and its utilities more user-friendly faces. Most notable of these is the CubeUI, a desktop alternative with sides consisting of three-by-three grids of round application icons (think T-Mobile Faves) in different categories: Entertainment, Internet, LBS (location-based services) and navigation, Productivity (a trial version of Microsoft Office is included), and My Group, which you can customise.
We were happier viewing the traditional XP desktop, mostly because we're familiar with it.
The same goes for the proprietary audio and video players: we found the unlabeled controls rather unintuitive, and we wound up using Windows Media Player. But music streaming from our Rhapsody library (using browser and Wi-Fi) sounded pretty darn good through the on-board speakers. The earbud headset bundled with the device also produced decent sound, although not as good as you'd get from a quality third-party headset. Fortunately, if you have your own headset, you can use it through the standard jack.
The Viliv S5 Premium also lives up to its portable media player moniker with the Hulu and YouTube videos we streamed through Internet Explorer over Wi-Fi; aside from some dropped frames (probably due to an overcrowded Wi-Fi channel), they looked great. We particularly liked the fact that media playback did not seem to overly heat up the snap-in battery, which makes up the rear case.
NEXT: wireless woes