ViewSonic ViewPad 7 review

ViewSonic's 7in Android tablet is quite expensive

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is a 7in Android tablet. It runs version 2.2 (Froyo) of Google's Android platform. With an Australian recommended retail price of $699.00, it's not exactly cheap.

The ViewPad 7 has 512MB of internal memory, a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 ARM11CPU, and 512MB of user-accessible flash memory (upgradable to 32GB via the microSD Card slot). Among its other features are a 3G radio, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity.

The ViewPad 7 has a 7n capacitive multitouch touchscreen, with a resolution of 800x480 pixels — lower than the resolution of the 7in Samsung Galaxy Tab. I found the LCD display too bright for reading books and documents for more than about 10 minutes. Text looked pixelated, with the dots in the letters distractingly easy to see.

The tablet's picture quality and video quality were better. Colours looked bright and vivid, and I noticed pixelation only while watching the tablet's live wallpaper. Nevertheless, the colors lacked the vibrancy of those on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The ViewPad 7 also has a mini-USB connector, for attaching a data/charging cable to your PC. Unlike some tablets, the ViewPad 7 can charge off a USB port.

ViewSonic claims that the tablets lithium-polymer rechargeable battery will last for 4 to 6 hours of continuous use and for 60 hours of standby time, but in my testing the battery lasted for only about 2 hours of continuous use.

The ViewPad comes loaded with a largely stock version of Android 2.2, albeit one that includes such Google mobile services as Android Market and Maps navigation. Integration with your Gmail and other Google apps is quick and simple, thanks to the Google support. The one obvious variation is the vaguely three-dimensional scrolling effect of the apps menu.

Accessing my e-mail on the tablet was quick, and typing on the ViewPad7's on-screen Android keyboard was a pleasure thanks to the screen's responsiveness and the pop-up letters that appeared as I typed. I had no trouble downloading apps and games, either; Angry Birds took less than a minute to download and run on the device.

Preloaded apps include Documents to Go and Aldiko's impressive eReader app (which supports TXT, HTML, E-PUB and PDF, and has an on-board library and bookstore to keep your collection growing).

The ViewPad 7 follows the dual-camera trend by providing both a front-facing camera and a rear-facing camera, though neither was particularly impressive. The front-facing camera is a skimpy 0.3-megapixel unit, and the back-facing camera is a 3-megapixel version with auto-focus but no flash. Though image quality was marginal, I appreciated the video chat capabilities; you'll need to download an app to take advantage of video chat.

Making phone calls on the ViewPad 7 was a bit awkward due to the tablet's size: It's too large to use as a traditional phone. But for conducting calls via speakerphone or for video chatting, it's comfortable and works well.

Rating: 2/5

Original review: Leah Yamshon, PC World US.

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