Sep 05 AT 9:21 PM Taylor Wimberly 13 Comments

First impressions of the Viewsonic Viewpad 7 Android tablet

Viewsonic was showing off their first Android tablet, the Viewpad 7, at IFA this week and we got to spend some quality hands-on time with the device. What I found was a pretty remarkable first effort from Viewsonic, but the Viewpad 7 will not be able to take on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Android tablets are quickly being divided into two main categories. Those with cellular radios (more expensive) and those without (like the WiFi-only Archos lineup). Both the Viewpad 7 and Galaxy Tab feature 7-inch displays and support for cellular networks, so they will be directly competing against each other.

When you buy an Android tablet in the U.S. with support for 3G/4G, it will be subsidized by the carrier and attached to a 2-year contract with data plan. This means that the initial price of the device might not be that important because it is the 24 months of payments that make up the majority of the total cost of ownership.

So how do the two tablets compare when placed side by side?

The Viewpad 7 features a slower processor (600 MHz ARM11 vs 1 GHz Cortex A8), lower resolution display (800×480 vs 1024×600), less internal storage (512 MB vs 16/32 GB), and lacks support for Flash Player 10.1.

Viewsonic didn’t make a bad device, but I can’t think of one advantage it offers over the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

There is still hope for Viewsonic because I got the feeling someone at the company has a passion for Android and an understanding for the current industry. It was good to hear that Viewsonic worked with Google to achieve official certification (Google apps and Android Market pre-installed) and they went with the latest Android 2.2. The Viewpad 7 might not move a lot of units, but I’m curious to see what future efforts will produce.

Other impressions of the Viewpad 7 include:

  • Viewsonic kept saying it had a 600 MHz Snapdragon processor, but the CPU in the Viewpad 7 is ARM11 based. I’m not aware of any Snapdragons that are not ARM Cortex-A8, so I’m not sure what’s up. We were told this device could not support Flash 10.1 for “technical limitations”, which leads us to believe this is not really a Snapdragon.
  • The case design makes it look like a giant iPhone 4 and the Viewpad 7 was pretty heavy.
  • Some 3D games like Raging Thunder 2 were playable, but I don’t expect this CPU/GPU would be able to handle any of the Gameloft HD titles.
  • Software was very buggy. Several of the benchmarks I tried running would not complete and produced force close errors.
  • The virtual keyboard was terrible. It only supported a T9 layout when in portrait mode and you had to swap to landscape to see the QWERTY layout. The stock Android keyboard was not present in the test build they had installed.
  • Accelerometer controls did not work properly – they were off 90 degrees.
  • It was impossible to wipe off the fingerprints from the back casing. It also appeared to scratch easily.
  • I didn’t notice any haptic feedback from the touch capacitive buttons. Speaking of the touch buttons, Viewsonic used some non-standard icons that were confusing to identify.

Check out our hands-on video for additional details. Would anyone out there choose the Viewpad 7 when the Galaxy Tab will be available at the same time?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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