Viewsonic ViewPad 10 in-depth review -

Look and feel

The ViewPad 10 is a bit on on the heavy side compared to rival tablets, but the large 10-inch screen is perfect for viewing video

Ease of use

Windows 7 hasn’t been built with touch-screens in mind, so we favoured the Android OS when using the touch-reliant ViewPad 10

Features

Despite the impressive capacitive multi-touch screen, the ViewSonic ViewPad is light on features and the 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera is a huge disappointment

Performance

ViewSonic may have fitted the ViewPad 10 with a high speed Intel Atom 1.66GHz processor, but it doesn’t support anything higher than the dated Android 1.6

Battery life

The ViewSonic ViewPad has an average battery life for a tablet device

 Viewsonic ViewPad 10 Review -
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:59:40 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

The dual operating system means you can choose between Windows 7 and Android 1.6

Cons:

The lack of application store will frustrate many

We like world first’s here at Mobile Choice HQ. We feel like an explorer, embarking on new found territory. So it was with this anticipation that we tackled Viewsonic’s ViewPad 10, the first tablet device to run on two operating systems; Android 1.6 and Windows 7.

Look and feel

As its name suggests, the ViewPad 10’s screen measures 10-inches and is surrounded by a smooth metallic border. There are only three hard keys on the front of the device; the power key, the home key and the back button. Now here’s the confusing bit. When browsing the web via the Android OS, the home key is actually the back key, whereas the back key brings up a tool bar at the bottom of the screen that enables you to choose from a range of options including Go, Bookmark and New Window. It left us a little confused, and we didn’t like the fact you have to repeatedly press the home key, backtracking through all your steps to finally return to the home screen.

The ViewPad 10 is certainly on the heavy side, weighing in at a hefty 835 grams, especially when you consider the iPad for example is 680 grams. However, the ViewPad 10 offers a slightly bigger screen than Apple’s offering and if the weight really bothers you, ViewSonic also has the ViewPad 7 which could be worth a look.

Android 1.6

So onto the crux of the ViewPad 10, the dual operating system. When you start up the tablet, an MS doc screen appears giving you an option of whether you want to start the ViewPad 10 in Android or Windows 7. You’ll need to make your mind up pretty quickly as it doesn’t take long for the ViewPad 10 to make your mind up for you, automatically firing up the Android OS. However, while this process maybe fast, waiting for the ViewPad 10 to be ready to use is a far more lethargic experience. This surprised us, as ViewSonic has fitted the ViewPad 10 with a high speed Intel Atom 1.66GHz processor, making it one of, if not the most powerful on any tablet device. To be fair, the rest of the ViewPad 10 is a speedy affair – browsing the web via the Wi-Fi connection remained rapid despite having numerous windows open at any one time - but when you compare it to both the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, both of which are ready to go in an instant, this dawdling can be grating.

 

Another drawback with ViewSonic opting to use Atom’s processor is that it currently doesn’t support anything higher than Android 1.6, which means the ViewPad 10 is stuck with an Android OS that is looking increasingly dated. There’s also no access to the Android Market as Google won’t certify devices with displays bigger than seven-inches or those that do not have 3G,

That said, Android devotees will enjoy the familiarity the ViewPad 10 brings, with a notification bar at the top of the screen and the ability to add shortcuts, widgets and folders by simply holding your finger down on the home screen. There are a total of five home screens in the Android OS with a pull out menu on the right hand side of each. Pull this bar out and you’ll be able to scroll between two screens left and right.

However, swiping between these two pages often meant we inadvertently dragged an icon onto the home screen, as ViewSonic has appointed a large surface area to each icon leaving you with minimal space to manouevre a page swipe. However, something that we did warm too was the fact you can pinch ViewSonic’s icon that sits centrally on each home screen, which in turn will bring up all the home screens as five thumbnail screenshots.

The Android virtual keyboard is very responsive. However, it’s not really built to be held horizontally as the middle buttons are too far apart to reach comfortably. Lay the device on a flat surface or turn it vertically, triggering the accelerometers, and the process is far easier. This can’t be said for the Windows Experience.

Windows 7

Now in Microsoft’s defence, Windows 7 hasn’t been built with touch-screens in mind, and this is the main reason when using the touch-reliant ViewPad 10, we favoured the Android OS. The mouse cursor for Windows 7 is the shape of a small twinkling star. While it looked aesthetic, we didn’t find it the easiest to master the various tabs and icons. That said, the ViewPad 10 does have two USB ports so you can plug in both a mouse and keyboard, which makes for a far smoother experience, and to be fair the virtual keyboard can be moved around the screen to your preferred position. There’s also dedicated numeric keys, meaning you won’t have to continuously press the ALT key, though switching from landscape to portrait results in the screen going black for about two seconds before reacclimatising. Of course there are other benefits to a Windows OS over Android, including the ability to play Flash video, and pre-embedded programs such as Word, Adobe and Excel.

One of the highlights of any tablet is watching videos on the large screen, be it the YouTube variety or the latest blockbuster you have side loaded to the device. In terms of resolution the ViewPad 10 doesn’t compare to the iPad or Galaxy Tab, so don’t expect as picture perfect experience as you’ll find on those. However, the ViewPad 10 has a far more appealing price so to judge ViewSonic on this aspect would be harsh. Yet what we did take issue with is that there are no volume controls on the device. Instead, when in the Android OS you’ll have to go through the settings menu, which proved tedious, though Windows 7 does allow you to change the volume in the bottom right hand corner.

In short, the ViewPad 10 is no match for the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab. While there is undoubted appeal of two operating systems on one device, both have their shortcomings; Windows 7 wasn’t built for a touch-screen device and Android 1.6 is being left behind by updated versions. However, there’s enough going on under the bonnet to warrant a second look, and if you’re not prepared to pay the kind of prices both the iPad and Galaxy Tab demand, then the ViewPad 10 could be the tablet for you.

Conclusion

A more affordable alternative to other tablet offerings, the dual operating systems is a good idea, but the execution is not as fluid as we’d like.

Danny Brogan