Since the iPad, a flurry of large screened capacitive devices have been bidding for our cash, from Apple’s own offering through to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Dell Streak and the soon to be released BlackBerry PlayBook. It’s understandable that Google’s open source Android is on the majority of tabs out there, and this means across this OS, there’s a fair bit of choice. At the lower end of the Android tablet market is the ViewSonic ViewPad 7, a 7-inch tab with phone functionality, a front and rear camera and Froyo on board. Looks good so far, but does it deliver?
The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is a thick tablet with presence. Unlike the Dell Streak for example, which is slim to the point that it could just be classified as a big phone, at 7 inches, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is most certainly not a phone, despite offering phone functionality. It comes with a cool leather folio case that doubles up as a stand.
The capacitive LCD screen measures in at 7 inches and has a resolution of 480×800 pixels. As expected, this makes for soft detail and an overall lack of crispness. While brightness levels are OK, viewing angles are terrible, reminiscent of some budget non touchscreen handsets. On a large device like this, it makes the 7 inch screen redundant for movies unless holding it directly in front of you, which is a real shame.
To add to the troubles when using the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 as a PMP, the 3.5mm headphone jack is below the screen when in landscape orientation, and our device wouldn’t re-orientate itself when flipped. This means that if you are resting the device on a surface at an angle in the provided case / stand (as you might to watch a movie), you can’t use headphones. This is a fatal design flaw in our eyes for any tablet.
When in landscape orientation, to the right of the screen on the fascia are four capacitive buttons, while to the left the front facing camera and light sensor. In addition to the stereo speakers, one on either side, you can also find the power button on the left. The 3.5mm headphone jack is unfortunately on the bottom along with the miniUSB port as well as the mic. On the rear of the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is a glossy backing and a centered 3MP camera.
Overall, the design of the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is simple enough to be inoffensive despite being chunky. Where it is really let down however is with the location of its 3.5mm headphone jack and the screen, leaving you with an un-ergonomic design, poor viewing angles, dull colours and not very high pixel density.
Interface and Functionality:
The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 ships with a relatively untouched version of Android 2.2 onboard. This means that despite the 600MHz processor, it stands the best chance of offering a stable and smooth UI experience. In turn, the biggest wow factor of the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is the fact you have such a stock Android on such a large screen.
Once you get over the wow factor of the size, we’re guessing like us, you’ll find that the ViewPad 7 doesn’t excite as much as it perhaps could. Swiping across stock Android isn’t as intuitive on the 7 inch screen as on a 3.7 inch screen, and thanks to no custom UI everything feels clumsy from the over-sized keyboard through to the haptic feedback being a bit too aggressive making the large device rumble unpleasantly.
The homesreen is for the most part a stock Froyo experience and is locked in landscape orientation. there are three icons always present: dialer, menu and web. These make sense given the ViewSonic ViewPad 7’s strength being web (something we’ll come onto later). With 5 homescreens, there is place for all your favourite apps and widgets, with them being displayed at a good size. Personalization is all predictably Android, with static and live wallpapers, widgets and shortcuts. Everything ticks along smoothly for the most part, however, going through menus and multi-tasking many apps reveals the limitations of the on-board 600MHz processor. With no added Facebook or Twitter integration (a blessing when considering MOTOBLUR), the Android tab will allow you to customize your social experience as you see fit.
Contacts, Messaging and Organizer:
Once again, with no noteworthy changes to the stock Android phonebook (other than the bigger screen that is), the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 provides a rather clunky, scaled up experience. Nevertheless, the phone, organizer tools and calendar all work as expected and the calendar actually benefits from the larger size of the display.
Naturally, Android makes setting up contacts a breeze especially if you use a Google Mail account and Google Contacts.
As mentioned, the on screen QWERTY does an okay job, however, it is a bit large in landscape for thumb-pad entry, with the edges being too angular, making the experience awkward. In portrait view, the keys are a comfortable size, however the weighting is all off and the edges are still too angular.
Naturally therefore, at 7″, despite phone functionality on-board (through the loud speaker), the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 isn’t going to offer a phone replacement like, say, the 5″ Dell Streak might.
Camera and Multimedia:
With a basic front facing camera and a 3MP rear camera with autofocus (though no flash), the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 isn’t out to blow any minds and that’s good, because it doesn’t. With okay colour reproduction, not so great levels of detail and similarly mediocre exposure, it obviously pales in comparison with the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s shooter. With no flash, night time and indoor performance isn’t great, and while it can handle basic macro photography, it won’t produce stellar results. Video capture caps out at 640×480 and as with photo-capture, is decidedly mediocre. It looks passable on the ViewSonic ViewPad 7’s low resolution screen, however isn’t so great once exported off the device.
Audio playback is pretty good, one of the tablet’s strong points in fact. Hampered by Android’s uninspiring looking music player, it nevertheless does the job, and there are a range of media managers you can get from the Android Market. More to the point, the ViewPad 7 excels with its sounds quality. As its stereo speakers are used for calls, it would appear ViewSonic have paid special attention to them, and it shows. The output is rounded and not too shrill. Through the 3.5mm headphone jack, music playback isn’t quite as great, offering a very standard level of quality.
The gallery and video player are both standard Android offerings so there won’t be any surprises, however, what will surprise and disappoint are the design flaws that render them sub-par. Viewing angles on the ViewPad 7 have been mentioned, and nowhere do you feel this more than in video playback. On top of this, the 3.5mm headphone jack’s position below the tablet (when in landscape) makes no sense. Huge, huge design flaws that mean users can’t comfortably watch a movie with the device rested, even in the supplied case/stand. As far as playback options go, it will play MP4 files up to 800×480, but our unit struggled with HD clips.
Internet and Connectivity:
With quad-band 3G and tri-band GSM, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 offers in the US what the Samsung Galaxy Tab won’t – phone functionality, however, this isn’t the situation in Europe with the European Tab’s phone enabled. Other connectivity options on the device include Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and a miniUSB connector.
Browsing the web on the ViewPad 7 is a pretty good experience but not great. Thanks to the slower processor, despite Android 2.2 on-board, there’s only basic Flash support. Nevertheless, if you can get past this, the 7 inch screen makes for a comfortable size to view online content. The tablet is responsive, with web browsing being the most intuitive and enjoyable aspect of the ViewSonic ViewPad 7. You can use either double-tab or multi-touch in order to zoom in or out. This works well for the most part, and so does the scrolling.
On-board software includes Documents to Go, a simple note pad, an ebook reader as well as your usual Android tool kit. With 500MB of memory on-board, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 really needs a card from the get go. Neither the camera app, or Docs to Go will work without one.
Battery life is pretty good with 6-8 hours continuous usage and 25 days stand by. We practically found we could get a couple of days out of it with medium usage. Call quality is good both when using a Bluetooth headset and using the on-board loudspeaker. The person on the other end of the line reported a slight muffle when using the loudspeaker, however, nothing major.
To wrap up, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and rightly so as it can’t really compete with it on any other point. The 7-inch screen is a nice size, but other than that it fails to present the user with a pleasant experience as far as resolution and viewing angles go. Sadly, this makes the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 pretty uncomfortable for watching movies or simply using the tablet in certain positions. That said, the ViewPad 7 is still a nice touchscreen device to surf the web on the go with. If you’re in the market for an alternative, the obvious contender would be the Samsung Galaxy Tab, with the same form factor, but better specs across the board. Slightly less obvious, the Dell Streak offers a 5″ screen which has greater pixel density and better viewing angles. Future options due out include the BlackBerry PlayBook, and if you’re prepared to sacrifice on phone functionality, consider the seminal mainstream tablet, the Apple iPad.
Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 2.2; Build 4027_3_16k
- Phone capabilities
- Solid build
- Good loud speakers
- Android 2.2
- Very bad viewing angles
- Placement of 3.5mm headphone jack
- No Flash Player 10.1 support
- Slow processor
Sumber : http://www.phonearena.com