ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is a 7-inch tablet with Android 2.2 OS, a 800 x 480-pixel capacitive touchscreen and the option of voice calls and data transfer via any mobile operators' network.
If we were to judge it solely according to the device's specifications, one could conclude that this is a technologically polished and advanced tablet. It comes with two cameras (front- and rear-facing), stereo speakers, full access to the Android Market, Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth support, as well as built-in GPS and a MicroSD card slot. Still, after putting the ViewPad 7 to the test, our impressions are not entirely positive; there are issues with a large number of these features.
Given that any SIM card can be inserted into the ViewPad 7, we can conclude that with this tablet, ViewSonic is aimed at the sort of clientele that will often be using 3G networks or even making calls, which is somewhat different from similar devices. Although it entered the swarming tablet arena in time, it seems ViewSonic jumped the gun with ViewPad 7, leaving plenty of room for engineering touch-ups.
BUILD & DESIGN
ViewPad 7's casing is made entirely of plastic, however, the impression the craftsmanship leaves is very convincing – it is solid, compact and robust. ViewSonic greatly mimicked the appearance of iPhone 4, therefore the tablet has rather sharp edges and is slightly curved round the corners. It sports a thin black borderline around the screen, its side is silver and not too thick, while the back is shiny black, which looks very modern. The battery has no cover and cannot be changed, just like with the iPad.
If we compare it to the tablet most similar to it according to technical specifications, Samsung's Galaxy Tab, the ViewPad 7 is somewhat wider, but shorter and slimmer. Both tablets produce the same feel when held in a hand and it is praiseworthy that the ViewPad 7 can be easily used with just one hand. It is 7.06 x 4.33 x 0.45 inches big and weighs 12.96 ounces. It is about as heavy as the Galaxy Tab, which is significantly lighter than the iPad.
The speaker and the power button are placed on the upper edge of the tablet, while another speaker is situated on the lower edge. The left side includes a mini-USB port, a microphone, a headset jack and a tiny reset key, while the right side has volume controls and a cover that hides MicroSD and SIM card slots.
A rubber and plastic cover comes with the ViewPad 7, however it cannot be used as a kickstand. The packaging also includes an AC adapter with several plugs for various wall socket standards (American, European, British etc.) and earphones.
The capacitive screen has a 7-inch diagonal and an 800 x 480-pixel resolution which is a good combination, especially for Android 2.2, which is intended for such a resolution. Still, the ratio of the screen's height and width does not match the one usually supported by devices bearing the same resolution, therefore the imaging seems slightly horizontally elongated. This is visible during the first ViewPad run, when the screen needs to be unlocked by dragging the round padlock icon along the screen – the icon is not round, but oval (like a laid-down egg, even though it is not as obvious).
ViewSonic representatives have already addressed the public regarding this subject, knowing that some users might have a problem with it. The heads voiced that they did not wish to back down from the selected resolution simply because many applications available though the Android Market require such a resolution and no other will do.
Slight image elongation is not a great problem in practice and the users will soon get used to it, however, the text which is smaller on the screen can seem a bit blurred at times due to this distortion. Perhaps due to the resolution and perhaps due to the screen manufacturing technology, it cannot be said that the ViewPad 7 offers sharp images. Still, the colors are quite bright and vivacious and the touch screen response is highly precise and timely.
The tablet offers a multitouch feature, which is quite solid – while zooming in on images and web sites, the tablet always got the extent of the zoom right. It also supports accelerated scrolling, however, it is not as precise. It would be better if it were a bit faster and if it could scroll a larger portion of a web site when the user's finger swiftly moved across the screen.
Four touch-sensitive keys are situated along the bottom of the screen, on the black rim, which is typical of the Android OS (intended for accessing the context menu, returning to the home screen, activating search and the one-step-back key). It is rather unusual that ViewSonic used nonstandard markings for these four keys, along with odd formation. As a result, it takes a while for the user to get used to them (i.e. to stop making mistakes while selecting desired keys).
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