ViewSonic viewpad 7e review

There's no question that ViewSonic has an uphill battle when it comes to tablets. For not that much more, you can find 10-inch tablets that look clearer and brighter. However, right at this moment in time, the ViewPad 7e is not a bad buy if you are in the market for a 7-inch model.

Neither the Amazon Kindle Fire nor the Barnes and Noble Nook Color are available in the UK yet, but in the US, they're priced about the same as the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e.

For US buyers, the ViewPad 7e isn't a good buy compared to its rivals, but in the UK it is worth considering for the price.

At £299, the Acer Iconia Tab A100 uses the Android 3.2 operating system meant for tablets, but is similar to the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e in terms of size, handling, processor and capabilities. As we mentioned before, the BlackBerry PlayBook is also an option for a similar discounted price.

We liked

More than any other spec, we liked the price on the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e. For just £150 you're getting an Android tablet (albeit one that runs older apps meant for smartphones) with built-in cameras, a slot for adding more memory and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connections.

The screen rotated correctly when we turned the tablet to one side. Most gestures and swipes registered correctly, and apps generally ran smoothly without any pausing or stuttering. The processor ran fast enough for most apps, although we could only run Android 2.3 apps, not those made for tablets.

At 7-inches and 450 grams, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e is small enough to slip into a laptop bag and hardly notice it's there. While the Samsung Galaxy Tab is thinner and lighter, the ViewPad 7e is also less expensive.

We disliked

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7e lacks decent built-in cameras. The front-facing camera runs in only 0.3 megapixels, and video chats looked dim and blurry. The rear camera, at 3 megapixels, also produced poor photo results.

Unlike the Amazon Kindle Fire, the interface enhancements on the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e aren't that appealing. You can choose between a generic Android home screen where you can place app icons or the ViewSonic viewer, where you can run widgets but not place app icons on home screens.

There isn't a custom interface to enable you to quickly and easily access books, or to switch quickly between recently used apps. The Amazon Kindle Fire does a much better job of improving the Android OS.

Final verdict

We're not about to rate the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e as a must-purchase, especially because we think the similarly priced Amazon Kindle Fire will make its way to the UK eventually.

But, for now, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7e is not a bad purchase compared to the much more expensive 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab. You get all the basics of Android without actually running the Android 3.2 operating system.

Just be sure to note that you can't run Android 3 Honeycomb apps, including some of the latest Google apps.