ABLE TO stand up against the competition is a phrase that leaps to mind when looking at Viewsonic's two tablets, the Viewpad 7 and its larger 10-inch sibling, the Viewpad 10.
Handling the Viewpad 10, it does not seem bulky or overly heavy for its size, 275 x 170mm. It has all its ports neatly down the left hand side, screen side up, and the burnished aluminium back gives a quality feel while the matt black front is simply typical of so many gadgets today. With three buttons down the front right hand side, which The INQUIRER was told are for using the Android 1.6 OS that comes with it, the overall feel and impression of the hardware is that it is a nicely built piece of kit.
The Viewpad 10 has a dual boot facility with Windows 7 Home Premium as well as Android 1.6, with the latter as the default option. With the Viewpad 10's Intel Atom N455 1.66GHz processor and 1GB of DDR3 RAM, the bootup time is very quick, impressively so. The 10-inch screen is multi-touch and responsive, with no obvious latency when selecting apps or pinch zooming photos or swiping from screen to screen to find apps using Android.
Because the OS is Android 1.6 and the device doesn't have phone capabilities, the Viewpad does not have access to Android Marketplace, but Viewsonic does expect to have an app store for users. The apps worked quickly, unsurprisingly with a 1.66GHz chip, and there was nothing about the performance that detracted from what would be considered a normal PC experience.
While that forthcoming app store could in theory be accessed via WiFi, the tablet can use a dongle for 3G. This dongle would simply plug into one of the two standard 2.0 USB ports on that left hand side. The other ports to be found along with the USB are a microSD slot, a mini VGA port and the obligatory headphone and microphone sockets.
Viewsonic does envisage business users for its product, which would explain the Windows 7 inclusion, and sees the tablet's 1.3MP webcam as a tool for video conferencing. However The INQUIRER wasn't too impressed with the picture quality.
Booting into Windows 7 again, the speed was very fast and the usual menus responsive to touch. Using Documents To Go in Windows 7, also available in Android 1.6, the operation was smooth and there was a recognisably PC feel to using the Microsoft OS overall.
The smaller sibling of the Viewpad 10, the Viewpad 7 sits neatly in one hand and can be operated with the other. At first glance. it's very much like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which also has a 7-inch display. It also feels like a very large mobile phone, and unlike the Viewpad 10 it does have phone functions. Its ports are pretty standard, with mini USB and a microSD slot for cards up to 32GB. It also has speakers on either side of the screen.
It's processor doesn't quite measure up to that of the Viewpad 10 as it is only a 600MHz Qualcomm ARM11. It also only has 512MB of RAM. Storage is also small with 512MB of NAND Flash. However, with the webcam the 7 beats the 10 hands down with its 3MP version. It also has 3G, unlike the 10, and for Android fans it has the latest 2.2 version of the OS. Because it's a phone as well, like the Samsung Tab, the 7 has access to Android Marketplace. A Bluetooth headset can also be used with the Viewpad 7 to make calls.
Using Android 2.2, the Viewpad 7's UI is fast and fluid with easy scrolling through the apps on-screen, while 3G Internet access was also quick.
A navigation app is included and, combined with the e-compass feature, it allows Google Street View pictures to be shown as the user moves around. There is no augmented reality aspect to this yet, but it is a possible future developent Viewsonic said.
One neat little feature it its manual volume control, located on the top of the device. The Viewpad 7 also boasts a 3,240mAh lithium polymer battery. It can boast about it because for some reason Viewsonic has given the Viewpad 10 a battery that's 40mAh smaller. With this larger battery, Viewsonic estimates the battery life on the Viewpad 7 at four hours for heavy use and six hours for average use.
The INQUIRER will bring a final verdict when we have had the opportunity to conduct a thorough review of the two tablets. µ