Product Viewsonic Viewpad 7
Specifications 600MHz Qualcomm MSM 7227 processor, 512MB SDRAM, 512MB NAND Flash, 7-inch TFT 800x480 resolution display, 3MP rear camera and VGA-quality front camera, 802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, mini USB 2.0, SIM slot, microSD card slot supports up to 32GB, 3.5mm headphone jack, 3240mAh Li-ion battery, 11.5mm thick, 375g
THE VIEWSONIC VIEWPAD 7 looks Iphone-esque but is in fact an Android 2.2 powered 7-inch display tablet.
There are the standard five Android home pages to flick between with a sweep of the thumb or finger, plus the on-screen three-button menu linking to the browser, apps menu and dial pad. The tablet can be used as a standard mobile phone, or with a Bluetooth device or wired pair of earphones that have an attached microphone.
Booting up takes no more than 30 seconds, and with a weight of 375g it is about twice the weight of a typical smartphone but is easy to hold for extended periods of time. When not in use the 7-inch device was easily slipped into a coat pocket, even with its leatherette cover, which is like those available for some e-reader models. With this attached, the device not only gets some protection against knocks, but it looks unobtrusive and could easily pass for a book or notepad when closed.
In the default landscape orientation, there are two speakers on the left and right edges of the case. A small power button is just below the left hand speaker and on the right hand side there are four touch-sensitive buttons next to the screen for home, back, search and settings.
The top edge has a flap that conceals the SIM card and micro SD card slots, plus volume up/down buttons. On the bottom edge is a jack socket for the supplied wired headset, a mini USB connector and a recessed reset control. However with its g-sensor turning the tablet to vertical will see all the applications automatically switch.
When in use as a phone, it feels a bit odd putting such a large object to your ear, and being so much larger than a handset that arm and hand position can feel uncomfortable. A Bluetooth earpiece wasn't available for testing but would make calls a lot easier.
Not as bulky as a 10-inch tablet, the Viewpad 7 provides a nice screen size with a 800x480 display that feels very comfortable for touch manipulation, typing and reading during extended use.
This larger screen size also made it easier to use Documents To Go, which allows users to create Word, Excel and Powerpoint files as well as view PDFs. But the editing facilities provided by this tool are somewhat basic, and best reserved for viewing documents or making minor amendments to files that have been created on a full-sized computer. However on the 7-inch display it was much easier to use Documents To Go than on a smartphone display.
The Viewpad also worked well as an e-reader. While the black text on white background seemed a bit harsh on the eyes at first compared to E-Ink displays, the Aldiko e-book reader tool provided a wide range of books to chose from and download. Aldiko allows users to download from an Epub format online catalogue.
Using it for surfing the Internet, navigating, reading books and watching video the Viewpad needed a recharge every other day. The battery is lithium-ion polymer with 3,240mAh capacity, but at the end of the second day the tablet will desperately need a recharge. However, when the battery was low surfing the Internet was still satisfactory.
One niggle was the fact that, if the screen is not touched for even just a few seconds, it will go into sleep mode. Another was the lack of any flash memory card provided as standard. The Viewpad's camera and several other built-in applications including video playback will not work without any flash storage present. The other drawback, not that it is hugely significant, is that with the leatherette case the main 3MP camera's lens is obscured. However there is a second, front-facing camera for video calls but it has a disappointing 0.3MP resolution.
You can watch The INQUIRER's video demo of the Viewpad 7 here.
The Viewpad's operation is fluid and Web surfing smooth. The fact that the OS was designed for a phone is obvious but the apps work well and anyone who likes what Android 2.2 has to offer on a phone will appreciate the better experience a 7-inch display gives. The question users have to answer is, do you want to use it as a phone and would you carry it around with you all the time? If so a Bluetooth earpiece is probably a good investment, as is an SD card. µ
Android 2.2, lightweight, speedy for browsing and other tasks, battery life.
Irritating frequency of sleep mode and no SD card included on purchase.
The 0.3MP resolution of the front-facing camera is miserly.