For some time now I considered the ongoing war between web browsers to be at a stand still. The major players pieces are in place, lines have been drawn and fanatic nations formed. Most people have settled on their preferred browser and stick to it religiously. I myself am a devout Safari user. As time has passed there have been some minor advancements with the occasional cool add-ons and plugins crafted. The last real improvement that caught my attention was Safari’s new Pinned Sites functionality, which I have since been utilizing with fervor. But really most all has been clear on the web browser front. But with all things, most especially technology, stagnation will always open the door to innovation. And with perfect timing there is a new kid on the block and he’s stirring things up. Queue the James Harden gif.
Introducing Vivaldi. Originally released in 2015 and born from one of the minds that founded Opera this (fairly) new fast up and coming web browser has a few gimmicks to impress even the most ardent Google Chrome fanboy. Like with all new software the developers are still playing catch up on certain aspects but overall they have delivered a browser that packs just about everything a casual user needs along with some neat tricks. Lets get into it. Note that I was using Vivaldi version 1.1 on my Macbook Air running OSX El Capitan 10.11.4. Additionally I will not be mentioning any of the more complex functionality such as developer tools or extensions as I haven’t had a chance to play with them. This will be a brief review going over basic functionality.
After the usual download and install you are first invited to customize Vivaldi’s layout and appearance. Aside from offering the typical light and dark interface the setup also offers 4 color themes, which may not seem like much but I still appreciate having the options. I went with a black and red combination. You also get to choose between a small assortment of background colors and images for the startup page, nothing inspiring or new but again a nice touch. One thing that I caught my attention was the option to set the tabs at the bottom of the page. I had not seen this with any other browsers and decided to give it a try. I didn’t feel like it brought any real new functionality but it was different and I applaud the makers in offering minor customizations such as this.
Like other web browsers Vivaldi offers a host of features. I will not list them all here but there are two that I found most useful that I would like to mention:
First is what they referred to as “Tab Stacks”. This allows multiple web pages to be grouped together on one tab. The user accomplishes this by simply grabbing one tab and dragging it over another that you would like it grouped with. Simple. It makes for a more efficient use of the space each tabs takes up while also allowing you to group similar web pages together logically and for easier access. For example I grouped all my social media sites together, then I grouped the different blogs I tend to read and last my news and tech web sites that I frequent often. In all I had 9 web sites open but grouped under only 3 tabs, which made for a much cleaner look. It took some time to learn how sites under each tab are accessed – and also how to undo the stacking I’d done unintentionally, something you will do at some point trust me – but I adapted quickly. Although I can admit that tab stacking won’t be for everyone I have to say it undeniably makes sense and it is surprising it’s not already a feature offered by other prominent browsers. However I predict it’s one that I’m sure will catch on soon.
The second feature I wanted to mention was “Notes”. Vivaldi has included a feature that lets you take quick notes as you browse along quickly and with minimal interruption to you as a user. New Notes can be quickly created by hitting a “+” key along the left panel. Notes are also saved and can be quickly accessed around this same space. Taking it a step further there is also a search function allowing you to quickly filter through your library of notes without having to sift through them one by one. Genius. I’ve already found this feature useful as I used it to make notes for this article as I tested and reviewed Vivaldi day to day. Aside from this though I can’t count the number of times in the past I had been reading an article or shopping on the web and needed to make a quick note as a reminder to myself. This feature is invaluable and again it amazes me the big names haven’t already caught on to it.
Again Vivaldi has numerous other features many of which are very useful but I wouldn’t want to spend the entire article going through them all. The more recent version 1.1 has brought some additional functionality to how tabs can be handled. I won’t get into it but details can be found on their features page or blog, which by the way is also a good source for coming enhancements.
As far as cons go honestly there is not much I can say that I didn’t like about this browser. It’s fast, stable and packed with features. I will note there have been a few minor glitches I have run into but nothing I would consider showstoppers. Quite a few of the options in the OSX menu such as “About Vivaldi” and “Preferences” do not appear to be working. I may try a reinstall to see if this fixes the issue but for now as a workaround at least for preferences the Settings button in the lower left corner is currently functioning properly. Additionally I ran into a few lags and hang-ups when using Microsoft Office Online. Again, I don’t consider these major issues. [Update: Version 1.1.453.52 has cleared all these issues]. However for the sake of being fair ill throw a few out there
Sometimes as I am browsing around or reading an article there are times I come across a link usually to another article that I would like to read but just not right now. So I right click the link and select “Open in New tab” and go along my way. However with Vivaldi when you select this option it take you to that new tab, requiring that you click back to your original page and find where you left off in the article. This is more of an annoyance as it really only costs me an additional click and a few seconds. Also I did learn recently that an option “Open Link in Background Task” will accomplish this so this issue can be remedied with some digging.
All in all I have enjoyed my experience with Vivaldi so far. So much so I plan to continue using it along side Safari and whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone not satisfied with their current browser or even to tbose just looking to try something new, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Hit the link below to give it a spin and be sure to leave some comments with your thoughts.