Latest Technology Reviews
ViewSonic is best known for its computer monitors but it has also been dabbling in the device market of late, with the ViewPad 10e being its latest experiment to hit stores. While this is ostensibly similar to many other Android tablets, it is actually considerably cheaper than many of its rivals, being half the price of alternatives like the Apple iPad. There are some compromises made in order to reach this level of affordability but many people will be willing to take a few bullets in order to save cash and still sign up for the tablet revolution.
On the outside things look very promising when it comes to the size and shape of the ViewPad 10e. Although the quality of the construction and the materials are a little on the plastic side, the slenderness of the tablet cannot be faulted. It is only a third of a millimetre thicker than the iPad 2 and it shares the same 9.7 inch screen size, which makes it relatively difficult to tell the two apart at a glance. Of course there is no single home button on the bottom as you instead get three capacitive Android keys to help you find the menu, go back and open applications.
The screen itself has a native resolution of 1024×768 which is not the highest pixel count around but is more than adequate for the asking price. ViewSonic has slightly neglected to take advantage of this with the home screen setup, which looks a little basic and low-res, but should be fixable if you install a different theme or have a tinker with the settings. And of course when it comes to viewing photos, streaming video and browsing the web the true potential of the screen is revealed.
The processor powering the ViewSonic ViewPad is a single core 1GHz chip combined with 512MB of RAM, which is admittedly a little underwhelming when you consider the wealth of dual and quad core chips that are doing the round today. However, you are once more confronted with the conundrum of the price and have to accept that some sacrifices need to be made. Onboard storage is another area of limitation as just 4G is available to the user. The good news is that you can add your own MicroSD memory card and add another 32GB to this amount, which should remedy the problem for most users.
Interestingly the ViewPad is not actually officially sanctioned by Google and so it is running an unlicensed version of Android. This means you cannot directly access the Android Market and you will have to deal with a user interface that is not completely consistent at best. There are neat tools like a 3D panning mode that lets you switch between different homescreens, but sometimes the speed is not quite up to par and you might just stick with normal 2D swiping.
In all the ViewSonic ViewPad 10e is decent for the money. You could use it as a mini TV on your daily commute or a lengthy trip and for sofa-based web browsing it gets the job done.