The Android tablet has a view of its own
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 is a 10-inch tablet powered by Intel’s Atom N455 1.66 GHz processor. The tablet comes pre-installed with Android 1.6 and Windows 7 Home Premium operating systems. The product package contains the tablet, a charger and a software disc. 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.
The ViewPad 10 has a large and heavy built. In fact, it might just be a tad heavier than the iPad. It’s pretty decent looking even though it doesn’t have the same finish as the iPad. The glossy screen attracts a lot of fingerprints and smudges.
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.
However, a serious issue is the layout of the buttons. There are three buttons in place of the four that you normally find on an 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 up 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 too impressed by the build quality. The back panel had some play in it and it’s visible when you press the panels near the connectors on the sides. The camera isn’t snugly fit into its place either.
There are also some heating problems when the tablet charges. Temperatures were lower while running Android, and higher with Windows 7.
Another disappointment is that the ViewPad 10 runs the outdated Android 1.6 OS. We were hoping for the Android 2.2 or even 2.1. The OS is the bare essential with minor customisations – the Google Android Market 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. 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, 1024x600 resolution screen is of decent quality and is excellent for watching movies and videos. The capacitive touchscreen works fine. Holding down the touchscreen as the right-click gesture doesn’t always work well. At long distances, the tablet drops WiFi connection.
The Android operating is a lot faster than Windows 7, but Windows 7 is way more versatile with more features. Speakers are decent, and both the quality and power are sufficient for watching videos on YouTube and movies from the memory card. There is no back facing camera, and the front facing camera’s image quality is average, and good only for video conferencing.
What we like
Decent screen quality
What we don’t
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 is a decent device that requires a lot of tweaking before it can be taken seriously. Priced at Rs 38,000, it goes head on against a similarly priced Apple iPad. The ViewPad 10 would be recommended if it were priced at a more wallet-friendly Rs 25,000.