Testing Vivaldi Browser: Functional, Feature-rich But Not Quite There Yet

Chaitanya Tapase

There have been plenty of new browsers released recently and users have no dearth of choices on what they want. Internet Explorer is slowly fading into oblivion and way too many users have complained time and again on how Chrome just doesn’t feel right to them. The metaphorical stage was thus set for another entrant like Vivaldi, which in many ways feels like a successor to Opera.

Not just another browser | Shutterstock
Not just another browser | Shutterstock

New Skin, Same Soul

Although Vivaldi is new in terms of how it looks and feels, it definitely has borrowed a few things from Opera’s browser. What’s more, it is based on Chromium (the same internals as Google Chrome), which makes it a good and a bad thing at the same time. The good bit is that the extensions from Chrome’s Web Store work just fine with Vivaldi (even though you can’t see them!) and that the keyboard shortcuts are also same. CTRL+T to open a new tab, CTRL+W to close it, you get the drift, right?

Vivaldi browser

The bad bit is that it consumes nearly as much memory. Here’s a quick comparison between Vivaldi and Chrome running the same number of webpages with the about the same number of extensions installed on both –

Vivaldi Memory Consumption  Chrome Memory Consumption

Even though the Vivaldi browser Task Manager window shows 62% memory usage, that’s hardly a major victory. Especially considering it’s somehow using more CPU. (I wasn’t running any other programs while doing these comparisons)

Functionality Galore

Even though the browser is still in the Technical Preview stage, there is still a lot of features thrown in already. Moreover, in the brief time I’ve been testing it over the last few days, it has already got a couple of updates. It’s now in Technical Preview 4, which has some interesting updates.

Vivaldi Update 15.07  Vivaldi Update 17.07

The browser, however, has a nice clean look to it. Plus, the Speed Dial feature that many users of Opera loved so dearly, is carried forward here. Also included are the popup thumbnails when you hover over other tabs, which give you a nice preview if the web page has loaded or not. On the left side of the window, is a panel which has a Bookmarks, Email, Contacts, Downloads and Notes section.

Mail not ready Vivaldi

Even though the Email and Contacts sections is not quite ready to be used, you can see the scope of it if it gets integrated right into your browser. The Notes section is especially useful, which lets you keep taking random notes whilst you browse your favorite websites and you can even capture screenshots and save URLs for future reference here.

Notes section of Vivaldi

Extensions Install, But Can’t be Seen!

This was quite simply the strangest part of this browser’s experience for me. I could easily install some of my most used extensions like that for LastPass, Reddit Enhancement Suite and Magic Actions for YouTube, these weren’t visible in any toolbar on the browser, like they are in Chrome.

It might not make a huge difference in some cases because you don’t really need to access these extensions if you’ve set them up correctly, but in other cases where you need to tweak one every now and then, it will be a huge problem.

Where are the extensions

As you can see in the image above, I’ve most certainly installed the Magic Actions extension for YouTube and I can see the Light/Dark mode switch on the left, but not the extension icon in the address bar on the right. Weird, right? The extensions work fine, but you simply can’t see them.

Does it Perform Better than Others?

Well, that is quite a broad question and really would depend on who you ask. But, if you like minimal looks, clean UI and still want those Chrome extensions to work (without using Chrome) then this is a great alternative.

Especially since the new updates have intriguing updates, like mouse gestures. While holding down the right-click button, you can make gestures that will open, close, re-open recently closed tabs and so on. And they work quite well.

Mouse Gesture Settings

It’s not been all honky dory for me so far, the browser did crash on me once in the past 3/4 days of testing. And instead of a dinosaur I was greeted by, well, a dead bird from what I can tell.

Dead bird notifier

However, this is still in a preview stage, let’s not forget. But, does it disappoint? No. Does it amaze? Umm, not quite. But it does leave you wondering how much can the developers bake into it and still have web pages load as quickly and the browser perform as nicely. It’s quick to start up and very easy to work with, so I’m quite excited to see what comes next.

Please Note: Even though the browser works on Mac, my impressions are based on my testing on a Windows machine, since that’s what I’m limited to.

Should You Switch?

Not yet. It’s still early to really say that is the ultimate browser that we were looking for. Even though it worked quite well on my Windows machine, I’d still wait to see the full release and then start recommending it. There are plans for mobile versions too in the future, but we’ll wait for that day and see where this ship has sailed.

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#browser #chrome

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Chaitanya Tapase has varied interests in Technology from Android to Windows to DSLR Photography. On weekends, you'd find him catching up on TV Shows like Game of Thrones and enjoying House Music.