ViewSonic is jumping into the tablet game. Although the company is best known for its monitors, a tablet isn't a huge stretch--after all, ViewSonic is used to dealing with displays, and it also puts out netbooks under its brand. The latter is a key reason why the company's dual-operating-system, 10-inch tablet comes as less of a surprise.
Details on the new tablets remain a bit sparse, in spite of the fact that one of them--the ViewPad 7--is due out in late November or early December, in time for holiday shoppers willing to drop about $479 (street) on an Android tablet.
The ViewPad 7 will run Android 2.2 and carry a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor; unlike some tablets, however, this one will feature Google's services (including the Android Market). It also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and is 3G-ready (meaning, you can pop in the SIM card of your choice for 3G data).
Although the unit has an IPS display, its resolution sounds low. Offering an 800-by-480-pixel, WVGA-resolution, capacitive multitouch screen, the ViewPad 7 supports video playback only up to 480p. It comes with two cameras--a VGA front-facing camera and a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera--plus a MicroSD Card slot for expanding storage up to 32GB. The battery is rated to last about 10 hours (under what usage conditions is unclear). Interestingly, it powers up via its mini-USB link, a contrast to competitors such as the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, both of which need extra power from a connector other than USB. Dimensions and weight remain a mystery, as does what other ports might complement the mini-USB.
The ViewPad 10, due in the first quarter of 2011, will be a dual-boot device with both Windows 7 Home Premium and Android 1.6 on board. If the product does indeed ship with Android 1.6, however, that OS will make the device feel woefully outdated before it even leaves the gate. Worse, ViewSonic says that because of the dual-boot setup, upgrading just the Android portion (whether through ViewSonic's own update or a hack) will be harder. As of now, ViewSonic plans no user control over upgrading the OS.
The larger tablet is really pursuing users who want a netbook's functionality, with the keyboard. The ViewPad 10 will pack a 1.66GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of memory, 16GB of user-accessible flash storage, a MicroSD Card slot, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera (but no rear-facing camera). The screen is 1024 by 600 resolution, and LED-backlit. As with its 7-inch cousin, the ViewPad 10's weight, dimensions, and ports remain undisclosed.