Viewsonic ViewPad 10 review

Is this dual-booting Windows 7 and Android 1.6 tablet any good?

Viewsonic viewpad 10
Can this dual-booting Windows 7 and Android 1.6 tablet be a serious alternative to the iPad?

viewpad 10 review

The hardware performance of the ViewPad 10 isn't really the issue with this tablet. The real problem, as ever, is the performance of the operating system.

It seems an almost cowardly move opting for a dual-boot solution, giving the user the optimal experience in neither. Viewsonic hasn't had faith enough in its product, or more likely simply wasn't able, to optimise it for either OS.

That was something Apple got, and continues to get, right.

The iPad isn't incredible hardware, the OS is just tailor-made for the best end-user experience. The ViewPad 10 however delivers a flaky, semi-functional and often frustrating experience. That might have been good enough for the geeks of old, but we expect to be better treated by our devices these days.

The fact the Atom is still tied to Android 1.6, and the restrictions on the Android Market for devices that aren't smartphones, makes that OS an incredibly off-putting experience. There are likely to be few times you'll deliberately boot into Android once you've used it a couple of times.

Of course you may accidentally start it up having failed to hit the correct bizarre combination of button presses necessary to coax the Linux Grub loader into doing your bidding.

Seriously, my ageing HTC Magic, forever tethered to Android 1.6, has more functionality than the weighty tea-tray the ViewPad 10 becomes in its open source OS.

I can count on the elbows of one arm how many times I've had to reset my phone because the OS froze, though that kept happening for the days I was fortunate enough to spend in the company of the ViewPad.

The AndAppStore, the faux Market catering for the ViewPad 10, has a number of programs on there to choose from, though it's a nightmare searching through when many lack any form of description whatsoever.

And somewhat disappointingly, the seeming wealth of porn-related apps failed to work on the ViewSonic either...

Though I doubt that's because of any clever filtering as half the apps I tried to install failed to respond or scale to the non-phoney screen anyway.

Aspects of Loathing

When the iPad was first announced there was a certain amount of consternation and criticism about the size, but more importantly the aspect ration of it's screen.

viewpad 10 keyboard

With the world going Cuckoo's Nest crazy over 16:9 widescreen the fact it went for a more squared-off ratio turned some heads. Viewsonic (or whoever actually designed and manufactured the ViewPad) obviously thought shrinking the screen was the way to solve such a supposed issue.

In Windows 7 the 1,024x600 resolution is simply too-tight when used in landscape mode and far too narrow in portrait. And when the otherwise responsive on-screen keyboard comes up there's little screen left when the device is held horizontally.

viewpad 10

I don't care that there's no black bars on the widescreen movies you're playing back, the chugging playback from the Intel graphics kinda precludes me from even wanting to hit the play button, let alone measure the movie-framing of the iPad.

A real killer for the ViewPad though is the battery-life.

At five and a gnat's hair hours on Window's battery-saving profile, and with minimal brightness, it's far from ideal. That combination of 3-cell battery, Windows OS and the Intel Atom CPU which robs it of any long-term performance also mean that it chugs through power even when it's in standby mode.

So a fresh boot is called for unless you're into haemorrhaging power.

This is not a device you're going to leave under the sofa and be able to flick it on in an instant. Unless you've got a powered dock under there anyways.