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Viliv S5 ultra-mobile PC overview and software compatibility tests

  

I received the Viliv S5 Ultra-mobile PC last month and here is a quick overview (or rather small FAQ) and experiences with software and hardware compatibility. The S5 is a full PC running Windows XP (and some have been able to upgrade it to Windows 7 with some minor issues). The size is slightly bigger than a Dell Axim X51v.

Overview

I’ll first start with the hardware. Specs:

  • 1.3GHz Intel Atom chip with hardware decoding for H264 / VC1 (ships with Cyberlink H264 codec)
  • 1GB memory
  • 60GB HDD (potentially could be DIY upgraded to SSD)
  • 4.8" (touch) screen with resolution of 1024×600
  • Windows XP (Windows 7 reportedly works but video out cable doesn’t seem to work yet)
  • Haptic touch-screen (simply vibrates if you touch software keyboard which can be turned off)
  • Wireless 802.11g
  • Built-in GPS Sirf III
  • Bluetooth (can be disabled)
  • No mouse or keyboard but joystick control with cursor and mouse mode 
  • Battery lasts roughly 4-5 hours which is pretty good for a PC! Note there’s also a standby mode that would work for several days (haven’t tested that myself).
  • Connections:
    • 1 USB port
    • 1 mini-USB port (docking to PC typically)
    • Proprietary Video connection for optional Video cables (VGA or combo component/composite/S-Video)
    • Headphones (can also be setup as microphone input)
    • Power

                  Availability & Accessories

                  Availability might be bit tough in some markets but in the US you can order it for $599 at Dynamism.com.

                  There are also a few accessories available. See Dynamism site and also here: http://jkontherun.com/2009/05/08/viliv-s5-accessories-revealed/. As pre-order I got free car kit and 2nd battery. Also I bought the TV out multi-cable (composite+s-video+component+stereo audio). I only tested composite so far and will test component HD later. The composite and audio worked fine and displayed wide-screen image on my old SD TV (right click graphic properties to choose display out settings). Text was bit too small to be readable though so you should lower resolution or better use component out.

                   

                  Reviews

                  Couple of reviews:

                  Manual / drivers

                  Manual can be found here: http://www.myviliv.com/eng/download/S5%20DETAIL%20GUIDE_090508.pdf
                  Drivers/FAQ here: http://www.myviliv.com/eng/board/board_faq/list.asp?a_gb=help&a_cd=13&a_item=0

                  Hardware: Mouse, Buttons and connections

                  There is no keyboard or mouse touchpad, only a joystick control. The joystick has 2 modes which can be switched by holding menu button: mouse mode moves the mouse 8 directions and moves faster the longer you hold it; or cursor mode but I found it only moves 4 directions and not diagonal:-(. No idea why they limited cursor mode to only 4 directions but I hope they update the driver someday. I found a workaround using autohotkey script to translate mouse movement into 8 way cursor control. See later under software compatibility how to do this. The joystick is small but movement is decent. Not sure how it will hold up over time. For games best to use external USB controller but for light gaming it might be ok.

                  The S5 has no built-in keyboard like some slider UMPC’s but there’s an on-screen keyboard which works alright but it’s not a fast way to enter text. Alternative is to get an external keyboard like Logitech DiNovo. Note that the lower-left button by default opens up the Viliv soft-keyboard. I found the keyboard to work well but it doesn’t have all keys like page up or page down. The Windows ‘On-screen keyboard’ in accessories is complete and bit smaller.

                  Buttons:

                   

                  Couple of Key Combination examples:

                  • Menu + Volume: screen brightness
                  • Hold Menu button: switch joystick between cursor and mouse mode

                  Given there’s a limited amount of buttons on the S5 and in case you don’t want to use that assignable button just for opening the soft-keyboard, I recommend to use Autohotkey to map common buttons for each program differently. Autohotkey is a free program that among other things can remap buttons depending on application context. You can find a sample script I created here: http://cid-0a4ae3fb12a26635.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/Viliv%20S5%20utilities/HotKeys.ahk. After installing Autohotkey double-click this script and you’d get these mappings (you can edit/add to the script other mappings):

                  Internet explorer:

                  • Menu key (windows key): toggles full screen
                  • Left/Right volume: zoom out/in

                  Handy Lynx emulator:

                  • Right lower button: button A
                  • C button (right mouse): button B. Note: I found right mouse button is not invoked when mouse moves. So better to re-assign
                  • Menu button: toggle full screen
                  • Volume down/up: option 1 and option 2
                  • Volume mute: pause

                  CDisplay:

                  • Left/right volume: page up/down
                  • right lower button: page down

                  Also note there’s a Viliv Cube application that comes with the S5 and is great way to navigate the S5 using just touch controls. See last screenshot below.

                  Battery life

                  I haven’t done extensive testing but I did one test running 720p MKV video file for about 3 hours (about 25% cpu) and gaming for 1 hour (50% cpu). Wireless was turned on and connected during this time (bluetooth was disabled). The Viliv shut down after little bit more than 4 hours (at 10% threshold). So that’s pretty great. The battery is pretty flat so you could carry a 2nd battery if you want to use the S5 all day.

                  One downside is that the remaining battery indication isn’t very precise. Seems it only supports a few levels. E.g. stays in 100% a while and then drops. And also seems to be mostly in 10% increments and I’ve seen it go back and forth at times as well.

                  Another great feature of the S5 is low battery standby time. It’s supposed to have up to 200 hours of time which is amazing. I haven’t tested it more than several hours but I’ve heard from several other people it works well. It wakes up out of standby mode in few seconds so this almost same experience as a pocket pc.

                  Screen & Video playback

                  The screen indoors looks great and pretty bright and has a very fine resolution of 1024×600. The screen size is 4.8” so I can see that some may find it hard to read at that resolution. But it worked ok for me. You can lower the resolution down to 640×480 (via graphic properties) but it won’t be as sharp. But most programs allow you to adjust font sizes and zoom in most programs. 1024×600 is great for browsing though and I used Autohotkey to assign buttons for zoom-in and zoom-out.

                  Outdoors is not so great. In full sunlight the screen is washed away. See below. That said in a car with some shade I still could read it. Not great but usable. My Dell X51V pocket pc does a bit better and actually is reflective in direct sunlight:

                  The Viliv S5 is great portable device for video. Since the Atom chip does have hardware decoding support for H264 and VC1 you can playback 720p HD MKV video smoothly. You do need to make little tweaks if you want to use other video players like KMPlayer to get video running smoothly but the included Viliv player works out of the box. See later in software table for tips how to get this running smoothly in KMPlayer.

                  I haven’t tested 1080p but I have heard some claim to get it to run fairly smoothly (but most are not). WMVHD 720p I haven’t been able to to play smoothly yet. In theory the S5 should be capable to play it back smoothly since the Atom chip does have VC1 hardware decoding. But the issue is that I haven’t seen any drivers yet for WMVHD / VC1. Hopefully we should see these soon from Intel. Windows 7 has some built-in drivers for HD video but haven’t tested this.

                  Otherwise the resolution and quality is great (indoors) to watch HD video’s and sound is pretty decent. The volume through loudspeakers and phone is loud enough for my taste.

                   

                  Software compatibility tests

                  Here’s an overview of software I tried on the Viliv S5 and any comments and/or workarounds required.

                  Software Works out of the box? Comments  / workarounds
                  Video / Readers    
                  KMPlayer

                  MKK 720p will not play smoothly see comments how to workaround

                  MP4 720p plays smoothly (see previous comment)

                  WMVHD 720p stutters but see comment below in Windows Media Player (haven’t tried yet if there could be tweaks to impove this or Windows 7)

                  MTS Canon HF100 60i: stutters but plays fairly decent at half size

                  See this link how to configure KMPlayer to play 720p smoothly:
                  http://forum.pocketables.net/showthread.php?p=20717#post20717

                  Basically all I did was to set external decoder for H264 to Cyberlink and changed the video renderer to DirectDraw overlay surface and YUV mode. That worked for me for 720p MKV.
                  1080i may work as well but may need a bit more tweaking. I haven’t tried it yet.

                  Windows 7 I’ve heard has built-in hardware playback support but haven’t tried that. I’m sticking for now with XP as I know that works plus I’ve heard video out doesn’t work yet correctly with windows 7.

                  Windows Media Player WMVHD 720p stutters but see comments I was able to get 720p (lower bitrates around 5Mb) running fairly smooth on XP:
                  1. Install Windows Media Player 11
                  2. Go to options and click ‘Performance’ Tab
                  3. Click ‘Advanced’ and select ‘Turn on DirectX Video Acceleration’

                  To test you can download sample videos: WMVHD showcase

                  Youtube.com Regular and HQ video works also in full screen but
                  HD stutters badly
                  To try to download video first… (keepvid or other). In theory that should be smooth.
                  Vimeo.com Stutters in default HD mode, turning off HD work also in full screen Non-HD still looks fairly decent but obviously not HD.
                  Hulu.com Stutters in all modes it seems 😦  
                  Web sites playing video through windows media player I noticed weird blocks at bottom of the video on all sites and when playing WMV in media player. See comments for fix

                  To fix: go to windows media player and go to options and tab Performance. Click on ‘Advanced’ and turn off ‘Use video mixing renderer’.

                  For other players configure ffdshow and change the WMx codecs to a value other than ‘disabled’.

                  CDisplay Works but shortcuts are mostly for keyboard so you may want to change the settings Rotated portrait display works as well but 600 pixels width is a bit small so I found default display best
                  Adobe Reader (PDF) and Digital Edition (ebook reader) Works Digital Edition activation works and I was able to view sample ebook. One downside is that largest font is still not very large on the S5. But most books have scalable fonts and you can adjust to any zoom level. Also it doesn’t have a true full-screen feature like Microsoft Reader. The arrow keys did work to switch between pages.
                  Microsoft Reader Works including activation

                  Nice feature: install free dictionaries to be able to lookup words when reading a book

                  Works well but in full screen mode page width is fairly narrow and font sizes could use more steps. Rotating to portrait looks a bit better but menu’s are slightly cutoff in the width and bookmarks are not visible(but book text looks fine). See here utility to start Reader automatically in portrait and set back to landscape at exit: MsReaderPortraitV2.ahk
                  GPS Navigation    
                  Garmin Mobile PC No, GPS not found see comments how to fix that

                  Otherwise works great

                  Problem is that default GPS settings are 9600 and it seems protocol is not compatible. To workaround:
                  1. Install COM0COM: com0com-1.7.0.0-i386-chk.zip
                  2. Install GpsProxy: GPSProxyPC-1.16-Setup.exe
                  3. Configure GpsProxyPC once: go to settings and in GPS tab set baud rate to 9600 and in 2nd application tab set application com port to com7. Settings should match this screenshot
                  4. Install AutoHotkey: autohotkey download
                  5. Copy this autohotkey script to automate setting up GPS: StartGPS.ahk

                  After you copied everything you can now run the AutoHotKey script and it will automatically configure GPS to be compatible with most GPS software. Also I setup the script to start Garmin Mobile PC automatically but you can change that line to your software. If you reboot you need to start it again (you could put in startup folder to always have this configured at startup).

                  UPDATE: I’ve created a 2nd version where I assigned Tab to sleep mode: StartGPS%7C_v2.ahk

                  For sleep It requires PsShutdown tool which you can get here: PsTools.zip

                  Street & Trips 2009 No, GPS not found see comments how to fix that

                  Otherwise works great

                  See above
                  GAMES    
                  Stella 2600 emulator Works but in cursor mode the joystick only moves 4 ways. See comments how to workaround I created a autohotkey script that will translate mouse movements into 8 way cursor control:

                  Setup/copy script:
                  1. Install AutoHotkey: http://www.autohotkey.com/download/
                  2. Use this script: mapMouseToJoystick_V1.ahk
                  3. Make sure joystick is in mouse mode

                  To run:
                  1. Run the script and check joystick is in mouse mode (if not hold menu button few seconds)

                  2. Run your application where you want to emulate mouse to cursor control
                  4. Make window application active (if that windows is not already active) and press left windows key. You get a msgbox saying enabled. 5. Movement is now controlled with joystick and mapped to cursor. To disable again press again left windows key. To exit script right click H button in notification area and select exit.

                  If movement is jerky increase mouse speed in control panel / mouse.

                  UPDATE: I’ve posted a 2nd script that also will hide the mouse pointer and won’t show msgbox:
                  1. Install nomousy.exe: Download and copy to public path (for example c:\windows)
                  2. Copy and run this script (after putting joystick in mouse mode): mapMouseToJoystick%7C_V2.ahk

                  Make sure you exit the script when control is disabled otherwise nomousy.exe will still be running. To exit this script: put joystick in cursor mode and push in.

                  C64 – CCS64 emulator See previous comment. Works but joystick needs workaround to use in 8 way mode  
                  Nintendo 64 – Project64 emulator Too slow depending on game but most games not very playable Most games will be too slow and will run at around 25-30fps with stutter. Potentially you could tweak graphics plugin but I had no success with the default plugin which should be one of the fastest.

                  External analog joystick/game controller is really needed besides the 4-way issue.

                  iDeas Nintendo DS emulator Too slow with few games I tried (about 5-10fps)  
                  Nintendo GBA VisualBoyAdvance Most games run close to 100% but see comments. Also see again joystick comments above In full screen 1024×600 mode the screen is not filled but looks very sharp. Speed is most of the time 100% but can drop now and then. To get faster speed try different render methods.
                  Atari Lynx Handy emulator Works fine. See joystick comments above Works well even in cursor mode since most games only require 4 way directions.

                  With Lynx II background and in Lynx LCD mode the image is too wide for the screen. Either no background or use another mode (default will work)

                  I recommend to use Autohotkey to map buttons.

                  MISCELLANEOUS    
                  VST Host Bit of a lag when playing many keys at the same time. Otherwise usable for some basic sound programming. Screen height is a bit small This is a free VST Host program that can hosts VST plug-ins like OPX-Pro, Pro-53, FM8, ….
                  HARDWARE    
                  Wireless network See comments I found I had to switch my router to mixed 802.11b & g mode. 802.11n mode didn’t work. Note my router uses WPA security mode (WEP may or may not work)
                  Stella Atari 2600 adapter Works out of the box, no driver install required  
                  Roland Fantom-X Works Install Roland driver first, then plug-in USB

                  Screenshots

                  Couple of screenshots to give you an idea what you can run on this PC:

                  Applications: Garmin Mobile PC, Street & Trips 2009, IE8 web browsing, CDisplay, Stella 2600 emulator, VisualBoyAdvance, Microsoft Reader, Handy Lynx emulator, VST Host and Viliv’s free Cube utility (multi-media interface).

                   

                     
                   

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