Wanting the iPad form factor but not wanting the limitations an Apple product represents, I went with the Viliv S10 Blade, a Windows 7, Atom processor-based PC in a 10” screen tablet convertible form factor. It is roughly the same height and width as the iPad, but twice as thick, and 50% heavier. This is no iPad killer, but it’s not meant to be. It is instead a fully capable PC in a pleasingly iPad shape. I’ve been using it for three weeks now and I must say it’s a very good device, and if the right software were to come along to address its software-based shortcomings this could truly become great.
The machine I bought is the 2 GHz model, 60 GB SSD, no WWAN, with Windows 7 Home Premium for $1127 from Dynamism.
I must confess my first impression of the computer at the time of unboxing was that the case felt a little cheap. The plastic they used, or perhaps its construction, feels a little unsatisfying. When you pick up the unit the case creaks like a floorboard in my dead grandmother’s house. It even creaks when your palms press against the top as you type. You just don’t expect that in a device which cost as much as this one did. I’ve been able to move past it and not let it get on my nerves, and in fact the longer I’ve had the S10 the better I’ve felt about its aesthetics and construction. It may make unnecessary creaking noises but otherwise feels solid.
Switching to and from tablet mode is a typical convertible tablet affair, and the screen hinge feels solid. Some people had written in reviews that the lack of a latch to secure the screen in place on the screen was a problem, but I’m pleased to say I’ve had no problems with it.
The keyboard is solid. I was struggling with my previous netbook’s keyboard, which had almost no action and routinely failed to register 20% of my keystrokes (the keys would bind if my fingers were a little off center). I can type on the Viliv’s keyboard for hours and hours and be quite happy.
The multi-touch supporting touch pad is good, but its buttons are lousy. The rocker design they use for the mouse buttons is unfortunate because it requires quite a lot of force to depress, and the force required depends on how far you are away from the fulcrum. And that wouldn’t be awful if there was some tactile indication that the click had been registered, but instead you just have to press until it seems like the button won’t go any further, which is a problem when the plastic they use is creaky. It’s not a fatal flaw, but you may find yourself using a bluetooth travel mouse more than you would if the buttons were more satisfying.
One of the truly most bizarrely confounding issues is that you can never leave the device in tablet mode between uses! No buttons, not even the power button, are accessible in tablet mode! You therefore need to lift the screen up almost all the way to expose the power switch located at the top of the keyboard just to turn the unit back on. This is a truly unfathomable decision. With this one simple design decision they guaranteed that no one would ever mistakenly compare this device to an iPad.