We’ve been following the tablet news all through the new year and into CES. As expected, a ton of tablets were announced at the CES 2011 convention this year. Each one of them will come with faster processors with multiple cores in them. We’ve received one of the recently launched 10-inch tablets from ViewSonic called the ViewPad 10. ViewSonic is a brand that’s known mainly for making displays and projectors. Let’s see how their latest offering fares as compared to the rest.
The all new Atom powered ViewPad 10
Features and Design
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 is unique for a couple of reasons. Unlike most of the other tablets so far, the ViewPad 10 is a 10-inch tablet powered by Intel’s Atom N455 1.66 GHz processor, in place of the common ARM family processors. The tablet comes preinstalled with Android 1.6 and Windows 7 Home Premium operating systems. The product package isn’t fancy – it contains nothing more than the tablet itself, a charger and a software disc. The bundled power adapter is of the same size as any other netbook.
The ton of connectivity options available
On the connectivity front, there’s a 3.5 mm audio output jack, a microSD card slot, a mini-VGA connector and two USB 2.0 ports, which should come handy when you want to connect external storage drives to it.
The first impression one gets of the ViewPad 10 is its size. It’s large and it’s heavy. Many complained that the iPad was heavy, and it was, but the ViewPad 10 might just be a tad bit heavier. In terms of looks, it’s pretty decent looking even thought it doesn’t have the same finish as the Apple iPad. The glossy screen attracts a lot of fingerprints and smudges and that’s unavoidable. The bezel surround the screen is uneven. For example, the top bezel that houses the camera and the status indicators is thinner than the panel at the bottom.
Vents on the side of the ViewPad 10, designed to keep it cool
In all, it’s not very aesthetically designed. The gaping vents on the sides of the tablet make it feel more like a netbook. This is something people don’t expect from a tablet or a phone. The use of a hotter Atom processor might be causing temperatures to rise, and therefore the need for the vents for more efficient heat loss.
The issues we’ve talked above might be us just nitpicking. The layout of the buttons is a more serious issue though. There are three buttons in place of the four that you normally find on a typical Android phone or tablet. In this case, the home button operates what would normally be the Back button. The Power button is just for powering on the device, or for rebooting it. The Back button acts as the Option/Menu button. Selecting the OS to boot becomes slightly confusing. There are no physical volume controls either, so one has to scamper to the volume control settings menu.
We aren’t entirely impressed by the build quality of the product either. For example, the back panel had some play in it and it’s clearly visible when you press the panels near the connectors on the sides. The camera isn’t snugly fit into its place either. It’s in details such as these that you remember the iPad. There are also some heating problems when the tablet charges. The left side of the tablet tends to get warm after a while. We also noticed that temperatures were slightly lower while running Android, and higher with Windows 7.
One of the other disappointments is that the ViewPad 10 runs the outdated Android 1.6 OS. We were hoping that by now, every manufacturer would have updated their devices to Android 2.2 or, at the very least, 2.1 by now. The OS is the bare essential with very minor customizations done to it – some unnecessary ones. The Google Android Market for example isn’t present anymore. Instead, a third party app called AndAppStore is your only way to installing apps on the tablet. It does the job fairly well but it’s an unnecessary change in our opinion. There are no interesting bundled applications either.
Windows 7 Home runs fine, but the OS isn't as intuitive as Android on a tablet. If you depend on certain Windows applications everyday, then this feature will catch your eye.
The 10-inch, 1024×600 resolution screen is of decent quality and is excellent for watching movies and playing videos on it. The capacitive touchscreen works fine. Holding down the touchscreen as the right-click gesture doesn’t always work well. The gesture is understood as a move. We’ve seen worse though. We also faced some issues connecting to a Belkin WiFi router during our evaluation of the product. At long distances, it drops connection. Most phones work flawlessly at this distance.
The Android operating is a lot faster than Windows 7, but Windows 7 is way more versatile with many more features. Linpack throws up a score of 15.6 Mflops, which makes it par with the other tablets of its kind.
The decently performing speaker on the rear of the ViewPad 10
Speakers are decent, and both the quality and power are sufficient for watching videos content on Youtube and movies from the memory card. There is no back facing camera, and the front facing camera’s image quality is average at best, and it’s good only for video conferencing. Frame rates are decent though.
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 is a decent device that requires a lot of tweaking and work on it before it can be taken seriously. Priced at Rs. 38,000, it goes head on against a similarly priced Apple iPad. It’s possible to get an 64GB Apple iPad in the grey market. The iPad in comparison is a much more refined product as a whole. The ViewPad 10 would be recommended if it were priced at a more wallet-friendly Rs. 25,000 for example. The glaring issues with the device could then be ignored.
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