Vivaldi browser review: The power user’s browser

The Vivaldi browser logo

The Vivaldi browser is based on Chromium (like most other browsers these days) and is available for a multitude of platforms. The appeal of Vivaldi is its power user features not found in competing software. I take a look at Vivaldi 2.9.

Background Info on Vivaldi browser

As I mentioned in my Opera review, Vivaldi was started by Jon von Tetzchner who was previously the CEO of Opera which was a power user browser that had its own rendering engine. Due to various factors, Opera software decided to drop their existing codebase and start over with Chromium. 

This meant that there was no longer any actively developed browser that had the features that some power users depended on. That’s where Vivaldi comes into play. Vivaldi is an attempt by Jon von Tetzchner to recreate the Opera of yore which had an incredible amount of customization features. 

Pros and Cons of Vivaldi browser

What makes Vivaldi worth checking out and switching away from Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or even Brave? I’d like to highlight some of the things that I think make Vivaldi a very compelling browser to use.

screenshot of vivaldi's preferences
The sheer amount of settings is either over whelming or exciting, depending on who you are

Compatibility

Because Vivaldi is based on Chromium, that means that any sites that work with Google Chrome will work here. That means you will rarely if ever experience site errors because of your choice of browser. 

In addition, Vivaldi supports Chrome extensions, so if you’ve got a killer add-on that you can’t live without, it’s easy to make the switch to Vivaldi.

The side panel

screenshot of vivaldi browser's side panel

Upon first opening Vivaldi, the side panel is clean with minimalistic icons and not too overwhelming compared to the current state of Opera’s side panel. There are of course bookmarks, but there is also the download section, a place for notes, and a viewable browsing history. 

Screenshot of the download sidebar in Vivaldi which I love
I love how downloads appear in the sidebar instead of the bottom compared to Chrome and Brave

Tab management

screenshot of tab preferences
So many options, such freedom!

This is just my opinion, but I am willing to bet that the number one reason people use Vivaldi is because of its ability to customize tabs. Most browsers have a row at the top of the window where you can go from site to site. Vivaldi lets you put your tabs anywhere you want: to the left, to the right, up, or down if that’s your thing. 

Screenshot of the side tabs feature
Every tab hoarder’s dream

For people that keep a ton of tabs open, this is truly awesome. Being able to maximize the browser on a wide screen and have all the open sites listed as their tabs, especially when I happen to go tab crazy or get deep into researching something.

Another thing I really love is the full list of options you have when right clicking a tab. 

Every option you could possibly imagine. Bonus points for the “close to the left” option.

No built in ad or tracker blocker

This is a bit of a surprise here, but the devs don’t seem to be interested in including an ad blocker and encourage users to install their own if they want one. I can sort of understand that approach, but having something built-in would be a better “out of the box” experience, especially for new users trying the Vivaldi browser for the first time.

There is a “block ads on abusive websites” option enabled in the settings, but that is no different than what Google has in Chrome. I feel Vivaldi could do a bit better in this area.

Performance

It pains me to bring this up, because performance has plagued Vivaldi since the very beginning when it was just a tech preview. Be prepared for pages to load somewhat slower than whatever browser you are coming from. Your RAM usage is going to be most likely higher than any other browser out there as well.

If you have a decent machine and enough RAM, this will most likely not affect you and by all means, use the hell out of Vivaldi. 

For me personally, I have always preferred my browsers to be as fast and responsive as possible. When I use Vivaldi, I can’t help but feel the software is sluggish at times, which is a bit of a let down because I remember enjoying many of Vivaldi’s features in the classic version of Opera in the early 2000s.

Final Thoughts on Vivaldi browser

I’m pretty sure that the folks at Vivaldi know that their browser targets power users and as a result will never become mainstream. And you know that? That’s fine with me. Not all things need to be simplified to reach mass appeal. 

If you’re a web junky like I am, give Vivaldi a test drive and see for yourself. You’ll probably have an “aha” moment when you discover some cool option in the preferences.

Link: Download it!

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