ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet

ViewSonic ViewPad 7 review: The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet blurs the line between smartphone and tablet

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Viewsonic ViewPad 7
  • Viewsonic ViewPad 7
  • Viewsonic ViewPad 7
  • Viewsonic ViewPad 7

Pros

  • Decent build quality, flexibility of Android platform, makes phone calls, included case

Cons

  • Slow processor, mediocre screen, limited internal memory, expensive, no Flash support

Bottom Line

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet 7 suffers from a lack of fluidity, a slow processor and an inflated price tag, making it a tough sell. With tablets running Android 3.0 Honeycomb just around the corner, the ViewPad 7 will soon be a very expensive paperweight.

Would you buy this?

ViewSonic is the latest manufacturer to release an Android-powered tablet that will compete with the popular Apple iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab. Described by the company as "a smartphone, computer, game centre and e-book all combined in one," the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 suffers from a slow processor and an inflated price tag.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab vs iPad tablet showdown and check out our guide to the best upcoming tablets in 2011.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet has a much more industrial-feeling design than the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It has sharp edges and a boxier shape, in contrast to the sleek curves and plastic back of the Galaxy Tab. At 375g, it almost weighs the same as Galaxy Tab. Despite costing less than the Galaxy Tab, the ViewPad 7 doesn't exhibit inferior build quality, and the smaller 7in screen makes it more comfortable to hold and carry than the iPad.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7's capacitive touchscreen is reasonably responsive, but does not feel as smooth as the Galaxy Tab's or the iPad's. It is a standard capacitive TFT touchscreen that's relatively crisp and bright, but it is hard to see in direct sunlight. We found swiping through home screens required a bit more force than we expected, and the 800x480 screen resolution is rather low for a tablet. The touch-sensitive menu keys aren't always responsive, and the ViewPad 7 strangely uses a mini-USB port for charging rather than the standard micro-USB connection.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 tablet runs the 2.2 'Froyo' version of Google's Android operating system. This is the same operating system found on many smartphones (like the HTC Desire HD), so in theory the ViewPad 7 often feels like using an oversized smartphone. The larger size and resolution of the ViewPad 7's screen mean that many applications in the Android Market won't use the full extent of the display real estate, and puzzlingly, home screens and menus can only be viewed in landscape mode, a real oversight on a tablet device. Further, unlike Samsung did with its Galaxy Tab, ViewSonic hasn't developed any of its own apps to take advantage of the ViewPad 7's larger form factor.

The flexibility of Android means the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 tablet does have some advantages; it offers built-in wireless tethering and haptic feedback (meaning the unit will vibrate in response to user input), and it is far more flexible than the iPad. For example, you can transfer files to and from the tablet by dragging and dropping them from your PC, and you don't need to run iTunes.

Due to a slow 600MHz processor, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet lacks Flash video support and only has a mediocre 512MB of built-in storage. It also offers a decidedly inferior Web browsing experience compared to the iPad; scrolling feels clunky, pages take longer to load than we would have liked, and there is often a delay when swiping or zooming.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is priced at $699; for $70 less you can buy a Wi-Fi only 16GB iPad, while just $100 more will get you a Wi-Fi + 3G iPad. At this price the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 simply can't be recommended. With tablets running Android 3.0 Honeycomb just around the corner, the ViewPad 7 will soon be a very expensive paperweight.

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