The first casualty of the tablet wars.
The 7” screen on the ViewPad is almost double the size of an average Android based Smartphone, however the resolution remains the same at 800×480 pixels. ViewSonic’s explanation is that since the device runs a Smartphone version of Android (2.2), it chose the lesser resolution to avoid incompatibility with apps. That does make sense as the Galaxy Tab with its higher but non-standard resolution had some issues with quite a few apps. However, the low resolution on the ViewPad 7 gives the screen a somewhat pixelated look. Add to that the less than stellar viewing angles and you have a device with a not so impressive screen which, really, should be e highlight of any tablet.
Usability-wise, I think the ViewPad 7 is better for consuming content than creating content. The user-interface is reasonably zippy thanks to to Froyo 2.2 and browsing the web or reading your emails and tweets is a trouble-free experience. However, the 600MHz CPU shows it’s lack of speed when you try run anything that’s a bit taxing such as the desktop version of Google docs. The Sun Spider benchmark took 12140ms to finish which is pretty slow. To give you a comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab finished the tests in 8455ms while the iPad took 8279ms (running iOS 4.2.1).
I also wasn’t too impressed with the on-screen keyboard which continuously missed my keystrokes and mistook my taps as swypes changing the keyboard from QWERTY to T3. Yes, this option can be turned off but the lack of registering taps was annoying. In fact, I started writing this review on the ViewPad but switched to the iPad after the first paragraph. Another issue with the keyboard is that, in landscape mode, the keyboard takes up a lot of the screen estate leaving you with very littel space to see where you’re typing. That might work on a Smartphone but you would expect a better experience on a tablet.
Battery life on the ViewPad 7 is about six hours which is below what the iPad offers but very much comparable to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This is with Wi-Fi turned on and browsing so your usage could vary depending on whether you prefer using 3G or gaming on the device.
The ViewSonic ViewPad is, simply put, an oversized medium-end Android Smartphone. It doesn’t not offer anything above and beyond an average Android device except for a larger screen. Google has stated that it’s 2.x line of OS is not designed for tablets and that clearly shows on the ViewTab 7. Its not ALL bad though- there are some things that look better on a bigger sized screen such as maps or video conferencing. YouTube videos also look and sound nicer as ViewSonic has equipped a decent pair of speakers on the ViewPad 7. I can easily see the ViewPad 7 as a good in car companion device.
Priced at AED 1,899, the ViewTab simply fails to impress- especially considering the new pricing of the iPad which is AED 1,699 for the WiFi version and AED 2,249 for the 3G version. ViewSonic seriously needs to bring the price of it down to below AED 1,000 and even then the ViewPad 7 won’t be as easy sell.