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Do we really need a new web browser?

I’m serious. Never have we had quite so much consumer choice as we do now. It’s nothing like the bad old days of the late 1990s, where the only choice was between Internet Explorer and Netscape, which at that point was circling the drain. Now, we have options. But that’s still not enough for some.

Meet Vivaldi; a beautiful new web browser aimed at power-users, built by the co-founder of Opera, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner.

Vivaldi builds upon Blink – the rendering agent that powers Google Chrome – and adds in extra features that aim to satisfy even the most demanding of users. But is it any good?

First Impressions

Vivaldi is available as a free download for Windows, Linux and Mac. For the purposes of this review, I tested it on OS X Yosemite. Perhaps one of the first things you’ll notice when you load it for the first time is how they’ve borrowed much of their design inspiration from nouveau-Apple. Vivaldi uses a simple, gradient-free pastel color scheme, and a flat design. So far, so iOS7. What's New in iOS 7? What's New in iOS 7? A new generation of iOS is nearly upon us, revealed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last week. Guided strongly by (Sir) Jony Ive, iOS 7 marks a clear departure from the skeumorphic UI elements of... Read More

vivaldi-home

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But to dismiss it as a cynical attempt to repackage Chrome for the iPhone crowd is to miss the point entirely. Vivaldi is an entirely different product, with an entirely different feature-set, and a unique design philosophy.

There are things that are done uniformly across browsers that Vivaldi does differently. A great example is bookmarks. Rather than having them stored in a drop-down that clumsily cascades vertically, bookmarks are elegantly stored in a sidebar that’s easy to manage and doesn’t overwhelm the user. How To Manage 17 Years Of Bookmarks How To Manage 17 Years Of Bookmarks Bookmarks seem to accumulate over time, growing into collections of hundreds or thousands over the years. If you only have a handful of bookmarks, this article isn’t for you – this is for the people... Read More

vivaldi-bookmarks

The sidebar is more than just bookmarks though. It’s also where you can manage your downloads, save your contacts and make notes. Vivaldi Technologies also intend to integrate their email product into the sidebar. Presently, though, it’s only available through their web client.

Vivaldi Technologies is mostly ex-Opera folks and unsurprisingly borrows a lot of inspiration from old-school Opera, including a like-for-like copy of Opera’s Speed Dial, where websites are tightly “pinned” in a 3×3, 6×6, or 9×9 arrangement.

vivaldi-speeddial

One of the core design philosophies of Vivaldi is that the user should never have to leave the browser to do something. We see that with the Sublime Text 2 Try Out Sublime Text 2 For Your Cross-Platform Code Editing Needs Try Out Sublime Text 2 For Your Cross-Platform Code Editing Needs Sublime Text 2 is a cross-platform code editor I only recently heard about, and I have to say I'm really impressed despite the beta label. You can download the full app without paying a penny... Read More inspired command palette, which allows you to access all functionality of the browser without leaving where you are.

vivaldi-command

It all sounds really promising, but is it mature enough to switch to right now?

Should You Use It?

This is the key question. A browser is only as good as its web page rendering. But thankfully, Vivaldi packs in the open-source Presto rendering engine. This powers both Chrome and Opera, and features most of the newer features of HTML5 Get Started With HTML5 Get Started With HTML5 You’ve heard of HTML5. Everybody is using it. It's being heralded as the savior of the Internet, allowing people to create rich, engaging web pages without resorting to using Flash and Shockwave. Read More , whilst adhering to the web standards established by the W3C.

vivaldi-acid

As a result, it performs well in the Acid3 Test, and the ECMAScript Test262, which tests how much JavaScript functionality What is JavaScript, And Can the Internet Exist Without It? What is JavaScript, And Can the Internet Exist Without It? JavaScript is one of those things many take for granted. Everybody uses it. Read More it packs in.

vivaldi-ecma

Consequently, it’s just as good as Chrome when it comes to browsing, and is a stable, speedy browser that can handle even the most multimedia-rich of sites.

Although, it’s betrayed by the lack of what some might consider to be essential features, including third party extensions. With that said, Vivaldi is still a young product, and one with profound ambitions. This is what it hopes to accomplish in the months to come.

The Future Of Vivaldi

A lot of the upcoming features of Vivaldi have a decidedly “me too” feel to them and are seen elsewhere in other, much more popular browsers. They’ve got plans to introduce a synchronization feature, where bookmarks and history are shared across devices, a la Google Chrome.

They’re also planning to introduce an integrated mail client — which is something Opera had back in the 00s before it was spun off as a separate application.

vivaldi-mail

Vivaldi plans to also support spatial navigation, where users will be able to traverse webpages by only using their keyboard. This is somewhat novel, and has only ever really found its way to Opera and a custom build of Firefox. As you can probably tell, they want to keep your focus in the browser, and nowhere else.

The devil will, of course, be in the details.

Vivaldi have stated how they intend to add these features using modern web technologies, such as Node.js What is Node.JS and Why Should I Care? [Web Development] What is Node.JS and Why Should I Care? [Web Development] JavaScript is a just a client-side programming language that runs in the browser, right? Not any more. Node.js is a way of running JavaScript on the server; but it's so much more as well. If... Read More and react.js. This is likely to please developers, but what does it mean for consumers? They’re certain that it will result in a vastly increased supply of extensions that work faster and better, and ultimately offer a better experience than older browsers ever could.

At this point, you could be forgiven for drawing parallels between the Opera browser of yesteryear. Back then, Opera was famed for having everything — including the kitchen sink. When they decided to strip most of that out in Opera 15 Opera 15 Is A Faster, Simpler Chrome, And Here Are 3 Great Reasons To Try It Opera 15 Is A Faster, Simpler Chrome, And Here Are 3 Great Reasons To Try It It may seem ridiculous now, but when I was younger, I forked over a great wad of cash for Opera, a revolutionary web browser from Norway. I took it home, excited at finally being able... Read More , it caused outrage. Users who had stuck with Opera through thick and thin felt betrayed, as the Norwegian web firm ditched its traditional power users in favor of a product with a more mass market feel.

But will Vivaldi win back that sorely neglected demographic? Only time will tell.

Will You Be Switching?

Vivaldi shows promise, but perhaps needs a bit more time in the oven before it can seriously start to challenge the likes of Chrome and Firefox.

But will you be switching? Or are you happy with your current browser? Drop me a comment, and we’ll talk.

  1. Najib Dajani
    July 6, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I downloaded and installed it as I am looking to replace Firefox.

    On my system Vivaldi is extremely unstable. Tabs freeze constantly. I go to Task Manager to click the process and that tab goes black and I can reload it. This happens constantly.

    Also, there are serious issues with video playback. I will stick with it a bit to see if I can fix it.

    One of the greatest features is being able to put the tab bar on the right and turn off the thumbnails. This gives me a list to scroll through. I love that.

  2. Jon
    May 29, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Just downloaed and installed it on Kubuntu 16.04 and so far it is working great.

  3. cromero
    April 25, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I downloaded Vivaldi a few days ago. So far I'm very pleased with it, though it does need some work.
    I haven't had many problems with it at all, except maybe it not recognising every stroke when on page search.
    The sidebar is an excellent idea IMO.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Glad you like it!

  4. Safari
    April 25, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Tried it a couple days ago. You're right it needs more work. Couldn't get it to open any pages at first and it seems like it couldn't make up it's mind whether it wanted to work at all. Finally got tired of trying to use it and went back to waterfox and cyberfox which are very good 64 bit browsers. Might give it a try later when they work out the kinks.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Well, it is early days. :) Give it time!

  5. Mesiya
    April 25, 2015 at 1:51 am

    The page search function SUCKS! Whether in a webpage, or in a PDF, it either doesn't work at all or gets stuck after spending WAY too long searching for the first instance of your search result.

    Not only that, if you type too quickly in the search box (again, referring to CTRL+F) it freaks out and starts eliminating characters.

    WIthout this basic feature, I'm not trying it again.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      It's early days! Give it time!

  6. Joe.
    April 24, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    After reading this I thought I'd give the browser a good test drive, which will take a few weeks. So far, the browser is amazing. I love how it changes color scheme depending on what the color scheme is of the website. Going to Facebook? Your tabs are the dark Facebook blue. Going to Twitter? Your tabs are a lighter colored Twitter blue. YouTube? Dark crimson red. It's fast, highly versatile and able to be customized. The ONLY problem I see is it can have graphical glitches in the Windows 8 taskbar and if watching video's on Facebook you'll see flashes of blue polygons

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Ha. So overall, do you like it?

  7. Suleiman
    April 24, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks Matthew for introducing us to Vivaldi. Yes we need a new browser that is built considering today's needs.
    Vivaldi is nice, elegant and light and it feels like Maxthon, the browser that i have been using for years. I installed Vivaldi while I was reading your article and I gave it a spin. I found it nice and simple. As it is a beta, it will have some faults: I was not able to make Makeuseof as home page as I have it on all my browsers, and when you play Youtube content, it will not allow you more than 360p quality. I have videos on youtube with 4K quality but it played them 360p . The only two options I got was 360p or auto. Videos posted of Facebook can not be maximized. When playing videos from major video sites, the browser closed totally and I can hear the video is playing from the sound coming out but I couldn't see it and I couldn't find it; I actually enjoyed that moment of hide and seek with Vivaldi lol
    I already like it and I am writing this using Vivaldi browser and I will use it all day today. Thank you again for bringing Vivaldi to us.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      My pleasure, Suleiman.

  8. Beverly Baylis
    April 24, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    I will try it but I use chrome Canary beta which I like will see wt happens especially integration with 3rd party apps

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      You might like it! Give it a go, and leave a comment letting me know how you find it.

  9. Dave
    April 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I've been very happy with Opera so far, but the improvements to the way bookmarks are stored and the fact that this is made by ex-opera people make this sound really interesting.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Definitely. Give it a try and let me know how you find it.

  10. beniza
    April 24, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for writing this review. It is informative. I would like to know what extra security & privacy options does it provide in comparison with other popular browsers.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks man! I appreciate it!

      AFAIK, just the standard stuff, although I can totally see Vivaldi packing in some privacy and security features outside of the norm.

  11. Guy
    April 24, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    This is going in my "tech to check on in 6 months" folder in my mind. Sounds very promising, but lacking maturity and finish.

    Unfortunately, the very things it is lacking are the things that tend to bog a browser down. Hopefully they find a better way to manage memory than Chrome.

    If I could make another browser work the way I want it to, like I do with Chrome, but wasn't a resource hog, I'd switch in a minute. Until then, I'll put up with my lack of RAM for Chrome issue.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      If RAM is the issue, you should switch to Firefox, Guy. Firefox is CPU hungry, but less RAM intensive. Chrome is RAM hungry, but less CPU intensive.

    • Guy
      April 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Good call. I use Firefox on my Ubuntu box. My home laptop is sadly lacking in CPU and RAM though.

      New laptop next year.

  12. Lestat
    April 24, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Vivaldi is the new Firefox... Offers built inside customization while Mozilla and opera has betrayed Power users.

    If you value devs with a clear vision and dedication, use Vivaldi. If you like devs which do give a f*uck of what the power user wants, use the rest.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      I wouldn't say 'new Firefox', but I certainly think at some point, Vivaldi is going to eat Firefox's dinner.

      How long have you been using it?

  13. Capt.
    April 24, 2015 at 1:33 am

    NO Way Firefox Is The Best Out There It Doesnt Misguide Like Chrome And Opera

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      What do you mean, misguide?

  14. Deekshith Allamaneni
    April 23, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    New but does'nt look any great. Sticking with Firefox.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      I think it looks pretty swish, actually. :)

  15. Doc
    April 23, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    BTW, Presto has never powered Chrome or Chromium, and no longer powers Opera.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Typo. I'll fix that. :)

  16. Doc
    April 23, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    "Vivaldi builds upon Blink – the rendering agent that powers Google Chrome..."

    "But thankfully, Vivaldi packs in the open-source Presto rendering engine. This powers both Chrome and Opera..."

    According to Google, Vivaldi uses Blink, as you mentioned first, not Presto. I'd heard that von Tetzchner was disappointed that Opera had gone to Blink, and created Vivaldi to resurrect the Presto engine (and the features he wanted in a browser); having Vivaldi use Blink would be a disappointment.

    I tried an older version of Opera, and didn't like it; I'm not a fan of sidebars. Sticking with Firefox.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Ah, good catch. I'll fix that.

  17. Jan F.
    April 23, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I've tried an earlier preview of the browser and it felt promising yet not quite mature enough for everyday use. Definitely a project to look forward to a "gold release".

    I actually liked Opera very much when it was mostly browser + mail + IRC client. Then they added a ton of stuff and made it feel so slow, bulky and overwhelming in terms of settings. These days it is too minimalistic.

    So I'm really looking forward what these folks are going to do with this project.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      I'm pretty excited too. Let me know how you find it, if you end up trying it.

  18. David
    April 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    After getting multiple spyware and malware on Chrome, yes.

    • Chris
      April 24, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      You may want to watch your surfing habits if you're getting malware in batches.

  19. dragonmouth
    April 23, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    From what you say in the article, it seems like Vivaldi is a re-make of Chrome by the Opera crowd.

    Some of the features you seem to like, others may find to be negatives. For example, the sidebar takes up screen real estate. For many users there is precious little of that currently. Besides, whether displayed on a side bar or in a drop down, bookmarks are still displayed in the same vertical manner.

    Until Vivaldi develops some features that are present in other browsers, it is a non-starter.

    • Dels
      April 24, 2015 at 2:41 am

      Vivaldi is remake of Opera Classic (12.x) with Chrome Blink rendering engine, by old Opera CEO

    • Dels
      April 24, 2015 at 2:44 am

      Surely the basic feature that still missing from modern Opera are trash bin & integrated rss reader which are available in Vivaldi.

      I evaluate it several months ago still rough experience compared to Chrome or Opera, but when it become stable I'll switch

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      I wouldn't use the word "re-make" here, because it's not really true. It's not a remake. Do they share the same design philosophy? Definitely.

  20. Joseph Annareddy
    April 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I'll be switching when Vivaldi Mail comes in. Until then ChromeOS it is....

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Shouldn't be too long, I don't think! Thanks for your comment.

  21. JA
    April 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Is there AdBlock plugin for Vivaldi?

    • Shanaan Cameau
      April 23, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      you can use chrome extensions

    • Thomas T
      April 24, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      The article and Vivaldi web site don't seem to say that existing Chrome extensions would work. I am heavily reliant on several Chrome extensions specific to working and developing on Salesforce.com for me to even consider a browser switch without them.

    • Thomas T
      April 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      So, it seems you can use Chrome Web Store extensions, per this article:
      http://www.ghacks.net/2015/03/05/latest-vivaldi-snapshot-supports-direct-chrome-web-store-installations/

    • ixan
      April 24, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      Until today I thought GreenBrowser had more features than any other browser (more features since 2002 than most have now), but it got slower over the years. I'm looking for a browser with a link list - link extractor built-in as I work with shopping carts with up to 1200 items in. Does your browser have such capability? Thanks

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