5 Things I Like and Dislike About the Viliv S10 Blade

Viliv S10 Blade slate mode

The Viliv S10 Blade has been here for a few days and I am forming some definite opinions about the netbook to share. Like any mobile device, there are things I like and others I don’t. As a refresher, the S10 Blade is a convertible netbook from Viliv, the Korean company that specializes in handheld computers. The 10-inch display can be rotated around to enable use as a slate tablet. Viliv chose an interesting option with this display, as it is a resistive multitouch screen. This has pluses and minuses, as you will see in the list of the 5 things I like and dislike about the S10 Blade.

Likes

Form factor. The S10 Blade is as thin and light as any netbook, even with the convertible screen. It is comfortable to both carry and use in the hands for extended periods. Viliv designed the device with hand use in mind, as every edge is smooth and rounded. There is nothing sticking out anywhere on the gadget, just smooth surfaces that are comfortable to touch.

Keyboard. This one is nearly full-sized, even though the device is so small. The keys have a good feel to them, with a decent travel when pressed. The keyboard is just on the border of being too small for comfortable touch typing, but with a little practice I was able to adjust to it. Typing speed is good, and all of the keys are where I expect them to be.

Battery life. I am seeing a solid 8+ hours of battery life on the S10 with simple power management. This is significant as there is not an extended battery that protrudes from the device, as is usually the case with netbooks. This battery is totally encased in the main unit, making it a very sleek form for use in the hands.

Webcam. The 2 megapixel webcam is nothing special, but its inclusion is welcome for Skype use. It offers decent quality video, and the location on top of the screen is optimum for such usage.

SD slot location. My camera records on SDHC media, and I appreciate having a memory card reader on laptops I use. I find the slot location on the front of the S10 Blade to be very convenient. It is easily accessible whether the S10 is in notebook configuration or in slate mode.

Dislikes

Bare bezel. My extensive history with convertible tablets has proven that it is critical to have controls on the bezel of the screen. Viliv chose to keep the screen bezel devoid of any indicators or buttons, and this is a serious oversight. At a bare minimum, the power button and activity indicators should be visible when the S10 is in slate mode. That’s not the case, and it is not possible to tell what is happening as a result. Putting the activity indicators and power button on the side of the unit would have addressed this issue if it was critical to keep the screen free of controls.

Memory. The S10 ships with 1 GB of memory, and while that is probably OK, I wish there was an option to expand it to 2 GB. It runs Microsoft Windows 7 and 1 GB is just pushing the limits for usability. The S10 costs $600+ so it at least needs an option to upgrade the memory.

Trackpad. I’m not surprised the trackpad on the S10 is so small — the device has little room for it. Viliv has done a decent job with this one, and the only complaint I have is a big one. There is only one mouse button on the trackpad, and it doesn’t work well. It’s one of those rocker buttons that you press on the left side for that mouse button and on the right for the other. Unfortunately, the button is very hard to press and usually requires a second push to make certain it’s registered. That results in the odd double push when not intended. The right button is very hard to press as a result of this.

No screen latch. Convertibles are strange beasts, as the movable screen can be a bit disconcerting if it wiggles around when in slate mode. Most convertibles have a latch to secure the screen for this reason; it can feel a bit insecure if holding the device in slate mode and the screen wiggles a little. The S10 Blade lacks any kind of securing mechanism, and it would have been better with some sort of latch.

Performance. The evaluation unit I have in hand is running an Intel Atom z550 processor clocking in at 2 GHz. This is faster than most Atom processors, and the expectation is that performance would be the best. Unfortunately, while the S10 does most things without lag, occasionally the system bogs down a little and there is a noticeable lag executing some functions. It’s not a deal breaker, as overall the performance is OK; it’s just that infrequent slow-down that gets annoying. I suspect is has more to do with running Windows 7 on 1 GB of memory than the processor.

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