There have been an ever increasing number of Android tablets entering the market, but besides the Samsung Galaxy tab none have been complete well rounded devices until now. ViewSonic is making a notable entry into the tablet market with the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 starting at $459 available in mid-December. Overall, the 7.1 x 4.3 x 0.45-inch ViewPad 7 is about the same size and weight (13.2 ounces) as the Samsung Galaxy Tab rapped an attractive package reminiscent of the Ipad.
The 7" tablet has a (800 x 480) resolution which is lower than the Galaxy's (1200 x 600). The idea behind the resolution is to keep it in line with phone displays so all apps work properly in full screen. to the right of the display (in landscape mode) are the Android icons: Back, Search, Home, and Settings. The top has the volume controls and well as the miniSD card and SIM card slot, while the bottom houses the 3.5mm headphone jack and a miniUSB port. The ViewPad 7 also comes with a convenient carry cases that we feel is a very nice addiction to the package, and wish more manufacturers would include with their offerings.
Software and UI
The tablet is running Android 2.2 but the decision was made to have four available home screens instead of the five or seven of other offerings, which is fine. ViewSonic has added some nice visual touches like 3D scrolling to the app drawer. The ViewPad 7 gives you three keyboards to choose from: a standard QWERTY, a modified QWERTY (two letters per key), and a dial pad-style keyboard; you can swipe to change between them. In general the easiest was the standard keyboard that many will find most familiar. A nice feature in the web browser's keyboard is a "www.*.com" button in place of the space bar, which inserts the standard beginning and end of a web page address. In testing the predictive text from the keyboard was accurate and helpful and the overall typing interface receives high marks.
The ViewPad 7 has a 600-MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor under the hood, compared to a 1-GHz Hummingbird CPU for the Galaxy Tabs. Although it seems to be underpowered in testing both with games such as Angry Birds and in web browsing it certainly performed adequately. When watching YouTube videos on the device it only slowed a little when watching HD movie trailers and had a second of lag when switching between landscape and portrait modes. Synthetic benchmarks such as Linpack did however show the computational power to be lacking when compared to other devices mainly the Galaxy tab. In Linpack, the tablet scored 7.5, which is on a par with smart phones such as the Epic 4G (7.9) but well behind the Galaxy Tab (13.1).
The camera functionality of the front VGA camera could not be tested, but a firmware release is schedule for mid December. The rear camera was decent for both videos and still images and is rated at 3 megapixels. The 3G capabilities were also not available for testing, but should work with a Wi-Fi hot spot or on the AT&T and T-mobile networks. The ViewPad lasted 7 hours and 26 minutes over Wi-Fi; that's about an hour shy of the Verizon Galaxy Tab (8:18) and the iPad (9:28). The overall performance of this tab falls just short of its competitors but does come in at a lower price point and in a fairly attractive package. It should be on your short list of options, be sure to check back for an update when the ViewPad 7 is released in the coming weeks.