V3.co.uk had a chance to get hands-on with the ViewPad 7 and 10 tablets at a ViewSonic launch event in London today.
First impressions of the tablets are mixed, with V3.co.uk preferring the smaller and sleeker ViewPad 7 over its clunkier bigger brother.
The ViewPad 7 fitted into our jacket pocket with dimensions of 110mm x 11.5mm x 179.4mm. This makes the device more compact than the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab, which has the same sized screen and measures in at 120.45mm x 11.98mm x 190.09mm.
At 375g the device was easy to hold in one hand while swiping and typing with the other.
Running Android 2.2, the ViewPad 7 had the conventional home screens.
One of the few negatives was the responsiveness of the touch screen. The ViewPad 7 comes with a TFT capacitive multitouch screen, but we found that lag was present between input and a response. This could have been partly down to the ARM11 600MHz. However, we were testing a pre-production model, so devices that ship will hopefully be more responsive.
Internet browsing was quick over 3G, but disappointingly some sites such as Msn.co.uk were automatically redirected to the mobile site, while other such as the V3.co.uk were displayed in their entirety.
This is by no means the fault of ViewSonic, it is due to the WebKit browser which is integrated into the Android OS and something that Google needs to address as devices such as this are more than capable of displaying full sites.
Another more minor let down was that fact that the tablet only comes with 512MB of internal memory. Users will be heavily reliant on the micro-SD slot, which supports cards of up to 32GB, out of the box. ViewSonic has no plans to ship the device with a memory card but expects that some retailers may offer it as part of a bundle.
With front and rear facing video cameras and its portability, this may be the more popular of the two tablets.
The larger dual-boot capable ViewPad 10 was not as impressive. The mammoth device had dimensions of 275mm x 170mm x 14.5mm, although this was housing a 10in 1024 x 600 resolution display.
The ViewPad 10 was touted as one of the fastest tablets on the market with its 1.66Ghz Intel Atom N455 processor, and we were impressed with the speed of the device considering the size of the screen.
Running the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system, we found that the device was not pre-loaded with Microsoft Office. ViewSonic also decided that the 60-day trial will not be included either. V3.co.uk was told that this was because it would take up space on the internal 16GB SSD hard drive.
When using a device that did have Microsoft Word installed, we found that the on-screen keyboard had paper thin letters in portrait mode making them hard to hit. This was the opposite in landscape mode, where the keyboard took up the entire screen. There appeared to be no way to adjust the setting and it left us feeling that it would be rather awkward to write and edit documents.
We were unable to connect to the internet using the ViewPad 10 as Wi-Fi connectivity was not available and the device has no 3G support.
To switch to the Android 1.6 OS, we restarted the device. Although this process only took approximately 15 to 20 seconds, apart from applications this operating system didn't really offer much the Windows 7 OS wasn't capable of.
ViewSonic said that the Android OS could be used to boot up the device rapidly, for example, to browse the internet or view emails. While this may be a fair point, the inclusion of Android still seems a little pointless especially as it is the soon to be redundant 1.6 version.
The firm also admitted that the Intel Atom N455 does not support the latest Android 2.2 OS so the option to upgrade is unlikely, but ViewSonic stood by its decision to include it believing that users will welcome the choice.
On the plus side, the ViewPad 10 does come with a mini VGA input, two USB 2.0 ports and a micro-SD card slot.
Both devices have reasonable price points with the 7in model priced at £399 and the 10in at £499. With ViewSonic offering reductions of around £100 through trade-ins this could make their devices an attractive purchase.
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