Viewsonic's ViewPad 7 is one of a rash of new tablet devices now hitting the shops, and like many others, this one is based on Google's Android platform.
First impressions are that the ViewPad is an interesting device, but who exactly is it aimed at? With its 7in display, the unit is just too large to be used as a conventional phone - although you can make calls using the supplied wired headset.
However, the ViewPad is much smaller and thus more easily carried than Apple's iPad, which could make it a good choice for mobile access to audio and video content, browsing the web while on the move, and viewing electronic books.
In fact, the ViewPad includes the Aldiko e-book reader application and download service, allowing users access to thousands of books in the ePub format.
Coincidentally, perhaps, the ViewPad comes with a protective jacket that it clips into, and which gives the device the appearance of a leather-bound book or notepad.
This looks like a shrewd move, as plenty of people are used to carrying a book around with them to read on the train or during the odd spare moment, and the ViewPad in its jacket is almost exactly the same size and shape as a book.
However, the default screen orientation is landscape, rather like Dell's Streak device, which appears to have been done simply to differentiate between the ViewPad and the smaller Android-based smartphones.
The 7in screen size makes the 800 x 480 display easier to read than a phone, and also easier to key in text using the capacitive touch-screen.
In almost every other respect, the device is simply an Android phone. It ships with Android 2.2, has 3G/HSPA network support, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and built-in GPS capability, at a price of £399 including VAT.
One disappointment is that the ViewPad is based on a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor rather than a 1GHz chip, although it does not seem sluggish despite this. It includes 512MB built-in Flash and has an easily accessible micro SD slot for storage cards up to 32GB in capacity.
Look out for a full review of the Viewsonic ViewPad 7 on the main V3.co.uk site in the near future.
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