I’ve been using Google Chrome as the main browser on my computers ever since the late lamented RockMelt browser was discontinued. Since RockMelt was based on Chromium, the underlying project that Chrome is based on, it was a natural choice to switch to Chrome. The main selling point of Chrome to me was the fact that you could sync all your bookmarks, preferences, and extensions, between devices. Since I tend to dual-boot most of my Windows devices with Linux, this allowed me to flow easily between the two operating systems.
In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of love with Chrome. I’ve become disillusioned with being so reliant on the Google ecosystem even though a lot of it is unavoidable. So I’ve been looking for alternatives. Before anyone starts, yes I know you can now sync between devices with Firefox. I do use Firefox on an almost daily basis for my writing ‘day job’ and I keep it dedicated specifically for that. This way I can have my work accounts on one browser and my personal ones on another, but I digress. So, I’ve been looking for an alternative to Chrome but so far none have really wowed me. I tried Opera and I do have it installed on most of my devices, however, while it does have its uses, such as a built-in VPN, it doesn’t have nearly the amount of extensions that Chrome has that I need in order to write.
I first tried the Vivaldi browser when it first released in 2016. At the time I really liked it but since you couldn’t sync it between devices I had no real use for it. To Vivaldi’s credit though, they did promise sync in the future. That future is now with the release of Vivaldi 2.0. While I still have Chrome installed on my devices, I’ve been using Vivaldi more and more.
The pros of Vivaldi is that I find it to be faster than Chrome and can handle Google’s own products, such as Gmail and YouTube, better than Chrome. It also doesn’t hurt that your browser activity isn’t being tracked by Google supposedly. Vivaldi still uses the same engine as Chrome but reportedly without Google’s ever-present all-seeing eye. I also find Vivaldi works better on lower-end or underpowered devices like my Acer Cloudbook that only has 2GB of RAM. I haven’t tried it on the EeePC because once again I’m having trouble finding an OS that will fit on the 4GB hard drive but that’s another post for another time. Another great Vivaldi feature is that you can use all the same extensions that you use in Chrome.
The cons of Vivaldi are few but some of them keep me occasionally using Chrome. One of the concerns I have about Vivaldi is that there is a somewhat steep learning curve in delving into Vivaldi’s many preferences. Power users should have no problem but casual internet users may have some issues that keep them from switching. However, my main concern with Vivaldi is the inability to increase font sizes on certain websites. In most other browsers you can hit Ctrl and + to increase the font size on any website you want and the browser will remember which sites you increased the font size. While you can increase the font size in Vivaldi, it’s an all or nothing kind of thing. You either have to increase the font on all websites or none of them. I realize that it’s a nitpicky concern but all my complaints about Vivaldi are nitpicks. I’m also a little disappointed in managing bookmarks. When I’m researching a post, I end up bookmarking a lot of articles that I will end up deleting later. In Chrome, I can highlight any bookmark, right-click it and Chrome will give me the option to delete it. When you right-click on some of the Vivaldi bookmarks it just opens the bookmark in a new tab. To properly delete some bookmarks in Vivaldi you need to go into the sidebar to properly remove it. Lastly, I wish there was a mobile version of Vivaldi for Android as well.
I have been using Vivaldi a lot more than Chrome since I installed Vivaldi’s latest version so I absolutely would recommend it. Just be prepared that there may be some preferences available in Chrome that are not available in Vivaldi.
UPDATE 10/18/2018: I just wanted to update this post since I’ve spent a few weeks with Vivaldi as my primary browser.
The first thing is the issue with the display size has been fixed. You can now display certain sites in whatever magnification you want and the browser will remember your settings. I’ve also figured out the bookmarks to better manage them, however, they’re not as intuitive as they are on Chrome. On the positive side, I absolutely love how customizable the themes are for Vivaldi while you’re pretty much stuck with the default Chrome theme. Did I also mention that Vivaldi works great on Linux too?
Anyway, while I do find myself occasionally going back to Chrome for some things. Vivaldi has become my main browser. If you’re technically inclined I do recommend it. However, if you’re not the techiest person in the world, I’d stick with Chrome.