First impressions: Viliv N5 Ultra Mini Mobile PC

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Viliv is at it again. This time around the Korean manufacturer is going after the clamshell market with the N5. The self-described Ultra Mini Mobile PC is really just that — a truly mobile PC. This form factor isn’t exactly new as I just looked at the main competitor, the UMID mbook bz, just a few months back so I’m actually curious if the N5 brings anything novel to the niche market.

I’ve only had the handheld for a few hours now so what follows are simply my first impressions. I’ll post a full review once I put some serious time in with the device. These type of devices sometimes take a while to appreciate and understand so it’s not exactly fair to judge its potential right out of the box. Anywho, click through for a few pros, cons, and pics — including comparisons against the mbook bz.

Pros

Screen
The WSVGA 1024 x 600 screen is gorgeous. It’s sharp, bright, and displays adequate contrast. It might be the most impressive feature of the N5.

Build quality
I found Viliv’s last release, the S10 convertible netbook, a departure from Viliv’s traditionally top-tier feel. Not the N5. It feels as good as anything that Sony or Apple could make. The outside is covered in a sort-of soft touch skin and there isn’t a miss-aligned seam anywhere. It’s really impressive.

Graphic power
The N5 can run Hulu Desktop! The N5 can run Hulu Desktop! And I mean it can run it in a way that’s enjoyable to use with very little lag and jitterness. This is the first ultra mobile PC I’ve used that can actually provide an acceptable experience with Hulu Desktop. It’s not flawless, but it’s good enough. Just think of the fun that can be had with Hulu Desktop and the integrated 3G HSPA modem.

Cons

The mouse
I’m not a fan of small optical trackpads. I’ve yet to use one that’s intuitive and clever. The N5’s is more of the same. The tiny optical trackpad isn’t accurate, slow, and a pain. But in Viliv’s defensive, I don’t have a better solution. These trackpads are about the smallest navigational devices available and it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal if the N5’s touchscreen was better.

Touchscreen
Finicky. That’s the best way to describe the touchscreen. A stylus improves the experience, but even then it’s not exactly accurate or precise. It feels like a driver issue and my unit is a pre-release model, so let’s chalk this one up to that fact.

Keyboard
It’s too mushy. Keys that require less travel would make typing on the N5 with your thumbs so much more effective.

Glossy screen
The screen is basically a mirror in a bright room.

Full review coming shortly

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