The display is solid but the power button is stiff, and the edge of the device worryingly came apart to reveal the interior
The ViewScene 3D interface is a nifty little addition to the Android Gingerbread interface, and the 9.7-inch touch-screen is responsive
No rear camera, only 4GB of storage, and few other decent features, including a lack of Android Market
The 1GHz processor is showing its age, and while it can handle apps just fine, web browsing was a laggy experience
We could happily play with apps all day on a single charge
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/30/2012 4:27:54 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Apps run smoothly, 3D interface is jazzy
Poor construction, jittery web browsing, no Android Market, bugs
ViewSonic tablets in the past have been very hit-or-miss. A couple, such as the smart little ViewPad 7x, are worthy budget devices. Some, such as the ViewPad 10 Pro, were clunky blocks that are best ignored. If you've checked out our scores already, you'll know which camp the ViewPad 10e has chucked its tent in.
The ViewPad 10e looks remarkably similar to most other Android tablets. A thin black bezel surrounds the screen, proving just wide enough to let you clutch the tablet comfortably, without bulking it out. At 620g it's not quite as heavy as the new iPad, but still boasts a serious heft. The front is bare except for a 1.3-megapixel camera and a row of Menu, Home and Back touch-sensitive controls at the base of the screen.
In our first few hours of use, the tablet felt seriously solid in all areas. Even pushing hard on the centre of the 9.7-inch screen didn't cause any distortion, which is near unheard of for tablets. However, we soon noticed that a thin plastic strip on the rear of the device had come loose in one corner, leaving a narrow gap for dust to invade the interior. This also messed with the volume controls – we had to push extra hard to turn the volume up or down. The power button is also rather stiff and fiddly. We'd expect this from a much cheaper device, but not a £200 tablet.
When you power up the ViewPad 10e, you have the option of using a standard Android Gingerbread desktop, or ViewSonic's snazzy 3D effort. This gives you seven desktops as usual, which you can populate with app shortcuts, bookmarks and widgets. You can flick through them with your finger as usual, or by tapping the ViewSonic logo, the screen zooms out to a 3D spinny wheel (known as ‘ViewScene 3D') that shows you all of the desktops at once.
Flicking through desktops normally can be a little jittery on the ViewPad 10e, but the 3D wheel is much smoother and features neat animated sequences where the ViewScene widgets come to life. We did encounter an occasional problem when adding a widget, where ViewScene 3D locked up. It was easily rectified, but like the odd random crash we experienced with the Tablo tablet, it detracts from the overall experience.
Surfing the web is an acceptable, if not massively smooth, experience. Scroll through a busy website such as BBC News – or of course your trusty Mobile Choice – and the page will judder rather than smoothly shift, thanks to a lack of processing power. Often there's a second's pause before the page scrolls, which is irritating. Still, pages load quickly over a dedicated Wi-Fi network, and the screen is responsive when zooming in and out with a pinch of the fingers. We also had no trouble prodding tiny links or menu options.
Flash video is supported in-browser, but often when we tried to load BBC iPlayer or YouTube videos, we got a ‘content doesn't seem to be working' message. Unfortunately there's no Android Market (or ‘Google Play' as it's now known) for downloading dedicated apps – instead you've got the 1Mobile Market, which has a cut-down selection, although it does include a lot of big names such as YouTube, Google Maps, Angry Birds and Temple Run. There are ways to get Google Play to work on the ViewPad 10e, but it involves modding the tablet.
After the stilted web browsing experience, we were expecting a similarly frustrating time with our freshly downloaded apps. However, Angry Birds Space ran perfectly, with no slowdown at all. The touch-screen proved to be perfectly responsive, reacting immediately to our prods and swipes.
The display itself is nothing special, and on par with other budget machines. It's reasonably colourful with great viewing angles, but lacks sharpness when watching HD content. Still, we happily enjoyed a TV show without any kind of juddering or other issues, which once again we'd braced ourselves for. The built-in speakers reach a decent volume and produce sound of reasonable quality.
Battery life was also good, and we found we could play with apps for around six or seven hours before a recharge was necessary.
Between the build issues, laggy browsing and bugs, it's sadly impossible to recommend the ViewPad 10e – especially when you consider the Tablo costs half as much and offers a much more satisfying experience. We've seen good things from ViewSonic – the ViewPad 7x was a well-crafted and enjoyable gadget – so we're hoping this is just a minor blip.