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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  • http://Website Kolb

    Disappointed they decided to cut corners on the hardware. The Galaxy appears to be a true tablet. This is just looks like a really big Android device.

    • http://Website SquirrelWithAGunAtTheZoo

      Quite franklt, a tablet *is* a really huge android device.

  • http://Website Ryan Kim

    I would buy it if it costs under $200

    • lament

      My wishlist:

      - Under $200
      - remove the phone
      - make it 10″
      - wi-fi only
      - keep the apps
      - faster processor with Flash that doesn’t choke

      • Taylor Wimberly

        Sounds like you are talking about the Archos lineup.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Not going to happen since this model takes a sim-card. Estimated price point is 399 euros.

  • http://Website chad

    When can we expect the galaxy s tablets to be released?

  • Renaud

    It’s not a good sign when a company most known for their monitors and displays skimps on the display! You’d think if Viewsonic had ANY brains would be to try to differentiate itself that way.

  • Uncemister

    That is awfully disappointing. Hopefully this isn’t too much of a final build, cause this would offer a better, albeit lower end tablet for those who want one, but don’t need one as beefy as the Galaxy tab.

  • http://Website Techblogger

    No support for Flash because of a processor limitation but I was hoping the reviewer would have asked about HTML5 support.

    Nice looking device and based on the installed apps, the 600mhz processor is probably sufficient. But what happens when you download apps that require a bit more muscle?

    My thoughts are this will have to be sold in the U.S. unsubsidized because I can’t see paying for this level of obsolescence over a 2 year period. It is a really nice looking tablet though.

  • http://Website Nycko

    I do not know if your test ViewPad 7 is very objective. I had fun with it for ten minutes and really, everything works fine. G-Sensor works well, the wifi is fast, the 3g is used for video calling, a 3MP camera, so there are two cameras, I understand your point of view because the fluidity is really makes you. Even the multitouch works well and the flash was not jerky at all. You’ve really got this device in hand?

  • http://Website Nycko

    said that I’ve compared it with my A81e that I had with me also in 2.2 but c is really day and night for fluidit√ɬ©.Plus worries about going on the internet because the sim card of your phone is compatible with your contract , no micro sim.

  • http://n/a Chris B.

    Comments based on a few minutes, ten minutes, a few days messing around with etc – aint worth the virtual paper they are written on.

    Having actually owned and used a VP7 for approximately 4 months straight, as a tablet/phone/3G modem (3 Network in the UK on the OnePlan tariff) – all i can say is this :-

    1) Yes, it may be technically imperfect but by the time i got mine the only thing it lacked was support for the later Flash player. But given it’s reason for existence wasn’t centred on flash content use, it’s neither a bad thing nor an issue for me that FP updates may not appear.

    2) It may only be a 600Mhz ARM based device, but it’s not sluggish by any means – hell, if i wanted the relative performance of a multi-core turbo-meltdown desktop processor in a tablet, I’d have held out for the decent X86 based 3g equipped tablet/phone of the ilk. It’s plenty fast enough in reality.

    3. It’s a perfectly fine mobile platform if you want something that just works, connects reliabily and stays connected pretty much as well bombproof as the sources of connections are in terms of availability and range. If you want super-duper turbo-performance cutting edge tech, and got it first’ value, then i guess maybe the VP7 (or the VP7S variant in the works) aint the device for that kinda person.

    It sure beats the hell out of having to carry a barely usable phone as a glorified Android platform device, works great as a phone and is still coat-pocket compatible (ok, slighty big, but that’s price of the big screen). Battery endurance is pretty good for a such a device, definately not ultra-efficient in power consumption but pretty miserly in it’s use of power given you can be using up to three different wireless transceiver devices in parallel.

    Yes, imperfect – but there aint a perfect device (and won’t be) and i’ll stick with my bombproof ‘imperfect’ til it fails or becomes no longer up to the job. If i need more than the VP7 can do, computer-wise,when mobile.. then it’s a VP7 tethered to Laptop combo and that’s no issue given what i bought it for,