Vivaldi is the newest browser on the block, but is it worth it?

I love classical music.

My first preference is Hip-Hop, not Rap, but Hip-Hop.  There’s a distinct difference between the two.  Rap is full of invective, reminds you of sweaty clubs and smells like acrid cigars and cheap beer.

Hip-Hop, on the other hand, accentuates the lyrical proficiency of the Hip-Hop artists.  It also underscores the raw talent of the Producer.  There’s an emphasis on mellifluous horns, soulful samples and timeless vocals.  Hip-hop wins my day any day of the week.

But I also love classical music; especially Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  In my opinion, “Spring” by Vivaldi is the most euphonious and delicate collection of sounds every to pass through my ears.

So what do I think of the browser named after the great Italian virtuoso?

I’ll show you.  Check it out.

Vivaldi is the new kid on the block.

Up until now we’ve had about five browsers to choose from (in descending order of greatness):

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer
  • Opera
  • Safari

Apple aborted work on Safari for Windows and Opera never really gained traction in the PC markets.  So what the heck is Vivaldi and why should you care?

Simply put Vivaldi is the new Opera.  It’s a completely new browser optimized for advanced users who want speed and functionality.

I gave the browser a test run today and can attest to its speed.  This is one snappy browser.

Vivaldi is also replete with “plugin/extension” like features right out of the box.  Here are my top two reasons why you should check out Vivaldi today.

1. It’s fast

I could declaim for days about Chrome’s speed, plugins, and sex appeal; however, I think Vivaldi is about to gain a new convert.

Peacekeeper is a free benchmark site that punishes your browser through rigorous performance tests. (specifically Javascript tests)  I wanted to see how Vivaldi fared against my beloved Chrome so I ran a Peacekeeper test in each browser to compare performance.

Both tests were executed on a test machine with the following specs:

  • Intel i5-3330s @2.70GHz
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 512GB Samsung 840Pro SSD
  • Windows 8.1 Pro Update 1 x64

Here’s what I discovered.

Chrome kicked ass on HTML5 Capabilities scoring the highest possible values (7 out of 7).  The test showed Chromes greatness is delimited at 2,318.  Which is pretty dang good when you look at the chart below.

Chrome Peacekeeper Performance Test

When I ran the same test in Vivaldi I received a score of 2,428.

Admittedly this is only a 5% increase, but it’s still important to note that Vivaldi is still in an inchoate stage of development so this could improve later.

Compared to Chrome, Vivaldi’s HTML5 capabilities were only a 6 out of 7 but the higher overall Peacemaker score means Vivaldi provides a faster, smoother browsing experience.

Incidentally, I find it ironic that Vivaldi is outperforming Chrome considering they both use the same Chromium rendering engines.  Vivaldi’s implementation was slightly superior in my tests.

And this is the thing.  Not only does the quantitative data claim that Vivaldi is speedy but my subjective experience comports with the facts.

The browser simply feels fast.

Pages open with short load times and getting around is like drifting down Lake Lucerne in Switzerland; easy and calm.

Vivaldi Peacekeeper Performance Test

I also did a HTML5 comparison at HTML5test.com

Vivaldi HTML5test

The results were very close; like two Nissan GTR’s sprinting to the finish line.

HTML5test for Chrome

As you can see, both browsers are competing for greatness.

Keep in mind this is an early pre-beta version so there are still more features to come.  But that didn’t stop the masses going on a download frenzy.  According to the official Vivaldi blog, users snagged the technical preview of Vivaldi over 400,000 times in the first week.

Join the excitement and become part of a movement hehe- alright, I’ll cut the histrionics.

2. It’s fun

Vivaldi is fun.

Let’s say I open three tabs from the same website.  Instead of having three distinct tabs wasting space in the tab bar, I can drag, or stack, tabs on top of each other.

Mousing over the stacked tab displays a flyout with thumbnails for each site page.  Getting around is just a click away.Thumbnails in Vivaldi

I also like how the title bar automatically attempts to match the color theme of the active website.

For example, when I visit cnn.com, the tab bar, navigation background and border elements fade into a laser red hue that perfectly matches the CNN logo.

Vivaldi colorful tabs

If I change my mind and visit Yahoo.com, the colors gracefully fade into Telletubby purple.

More Vivaldi colorful tabs

Little things like this show me the designers spent a great deal of time polishing the Vivaldi experience.  Everything feels intentional, deliberate and “on purpose”.

Another fun thing you can do is take notes directly in the browser.  So if you’re watching a screencast, webinar, or just reading some educational content the notes bar is just a click away.

Taking notes in Vivaldi

By the way, do you see the little webpage thumbnail tucked in the bottom left corner of the browser?  That’s a screenshot.  As you bang out your notes you can click this little button to take relevant snapshots of the the active webpage.

w00t!

But one of my favorite features is the built in customization.

For example, if I want to change the behavior of my tabs I don’t need to go hunting around the interwebs for an obscure extension.  Everything I need is right there in the settings.

Vivaldi Settings

The last point that makes this browser nimble is the strong focus on keyboard navigation.

Vivaldi Quick Commands

The developers are calling it “Spacial Navigation” and it’s a way to completely navigate the web using only your keyboard.  The best part is everything is tweakable so you can use the keyboard shortcuts that you already use with other browsers.

Tweaking the Vivaldi keyboard shortcuts

The Bottom Line

Vivaldi is shaping up to be a great browser.  After playing with it for a few hours I was impressed by the fluid navigation and ease of customization.  And although it’s unfinished, I think Vivaldi is unique and deserves the attention of anyone who wants to get more out the web.

So what do you think of Vivaldi? Download it and tell me how you think it compares to Chrome.

  • Do you think it will eventually eclipse the hegemony of Chrome?
  • Should we write a dirge for all the other browsers out there because Vivaldi is poised to steal the number one spot?
  • Will it eclipse Microsoft’s Spartan browser?

Hit me up in the comments!

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Posted in Web Browsers, Windows, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista Tagged with: , ,
  • G.J. Reitsma

    I use it on Linux, it is fast, not too resource-hungry and does everything very nicely. I use it all the time (and that is very frequent).
    It is a young project. It will be better and better.