Blog Post

Viliv S5 WiFi Problem and a Fix

cimg14274If you have been following my adventures with the Viliv S5 Premium UMPC then you are aware I have been so impressed with the little PC that I have ordered one for my own. I am getting a tremendous amount of good use out of the S5, and everyone I have shown it to is duly impressed with Viliv’s UMPC. This weekend a problem cropped up with the S5 that had me doubting my own judgement until I figured out what was causing it and I was able to get it solved. Now I am back to happy mobile computing, so I’ll pass on what happened in case it will be helpful.

One of the things that has most impressed me about the S5 is the power management that Viliv has incorporated. The user doesn’t have to do anything to get great battery life, and a big part of that has to do with how well the S5 enters and exits Standby mode. The common usage scenario is to pop the device into standby and to resume when it’s needed again. I usually find it only takes about two seconds to go into Standby and 2-5 seconds to resume. Unlike other mobile computers I have used in the past the S5 is able to resume from Standby and reconnect to the WiFi network very quickly, at least until yesterday.

The problem set in all at once, as they often do. I found that the S5 was having trouble resuming from Standby. The desktop would appear right away as usual, but I found that the system didn’t want to execute programs, sometimes for as long as a few minutes. I watched the process many times to determine what might be causing this and began to suspect that the USB systems were not resuming from standby very well. There are many USB systems on the S5, as there are on most mobile PCs. The visible USB systems that were not resuming properly were the WiFi adapter and the Bluetooth adapter. Both of these devices are USB, and I felt pretty certain that one of them was not making the transition from running to standby to running again.

I tested this with repeated standby cycles and hard boots. The USB systems would always work as they should after a hard boot, it was just with a resume that they would fail and cause the system delays I’ve indicated. I set about scouring the Device Manager to see if some power management settings had been changed somehow but nothing really stood out. So I thought long and hard about what could have caused a major change to this system to interfere with this process, one that had been so solid before the problem set in?

The answer was ultimately the hardware driver for the WiFi adapter. My efforts to troubleshoot this went as far as doing a complete system restore to factory conditions. That went well as Viliv has a recovery partition and an easy method to reimage the system using the device buttons. The restore was followed by a Windows Update session to bring it up-to-date and that’s where I noticed what could easily be creating my problem.

I must share the blame for this new driver install as I saw a new Marvell driver update in Windows Update and thinking it was the Ethernet adapter, I checked the box to install it. I don’t remember applying this update before the restore, but I must have done so. I still had the resume problem after the restore so now that I was aware the WiFi adapter had been updated I could deal with it. The fix to my problem that I wasted hours on troubleshooting was to simply roll the driver back to what it was originally. Windows makes that very simple to do and that has fixed my problem.

My system is back happily resuming from standby as it did before. I suspect that Viliv has done a good job customizing the Marvell driver for the S5 and the generic Windows Update driver lost those customizations, thus creating my problem. It goes to show that you have to pay close attention to updates that Windows wants to apply and make darn sure you need a hardware update.

20 Responses to “Viliv S5 WiFi Problem and a Fix”

  1. hey there, i have a question to ask. My S5 seems to have some hardware problems when it heats up. You know the sound that windows prompt you when you plug your USB device in and out? I notice when i have my S5 wifi on for a period of time, that sound starts and keeps going on and off unless i switch off my S5 and let it cool for awhile. Any ideas on that?

  2. I’d love to be auto-notified of this once it’s in place. I just ordered two Viliv’s, one for me and my wife each. yay!

    I can’t wait for Win7 to operate perfectly on this. Isn’t there a version of inking, making XP Tablet edition, that allows the ink context in all text input boxes?

  3. I received an email from Dynamism today that said due to the problems during the yesterday’s pre-order there will be an additional 400 units with the free promo kit for sale on May 14th at 1pm EST (ship date May 24th). They will also be beefing up their server farm to handle the traffic.

    I think this is pretty nice of them to do this.

  4. Mike Reilly

    Will you install Windows 7 on the demo unit, or on the one you buy?

    Will it still be able to resume from standby quickly, or do you expect that to be lost?

    Is there a way to put Vonage, or something similar, on it, so I don’t have to buy one of the wretched Verizon phones when my phone dies?

  5. d-squared

    James, I have been following your S5 posts and they have have me foaming at the mouth. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I do have to ask about a comparison with an OQO (speed, heat, scrren, etc.) I have a model 2 with vista (have played with Win7 with flakey results). I realize they are two completely different machines, but just wanted your thoughts. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  6. I had a similar problem just recently with my dv4, except my WIRED connection kept dropping, forcing me to run an ipconfig /renew to get reconnected. HP support claims that this is a power management bug with Vista that’s preventing the adapter from working after wake-on. I’ll see how my next notebook works out.

  7. I never do hardware updates from Microsoft updates for the same reason. I always set it to notify of updates and I only do the patches for the OS or the security ones. Usually all the hardware I check on vendors site for that. Tomorrow is the big day for those that are going to be ordering the Viliv.

    • Maybe you could advise your friends at high places to ship the machine with the latest service pack(s) and updates installed. I know you ranted about that recently and blamed Microsoft, but in today’s Sunday paper Dell advert I stumbled over their Mini 10 offer, which is advertised as coming with XP SP3. So if Dell can somehow ship their machines with a reasonably up-to-date OS image, surely Viliv could, too? And they you’d not end up installing broken drivers. Problem solved :)