Review of the ViewSonic ViewPad 7X
The ViewPad 7X is an interesting tablet from a not-so-well known manufacturer. It’s a decent tablet that may suit some better than a standard Android slate as ViewSonic have customised the Android operating system in a bid to offer a more user-friendly interface. This means lots more homescreens to house your app shortcuts and widgets.
- Portability – The ViewPad 7X is a 7-inch tablet, so it’s easy to carry around, hold in one hand for reading, and pretty light too, weighing in at 380 grams.
- Processor Performance – The processor on this tablet is pretty decent and standard fare across similar priced tablet PCs. It’s a dual core 1 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM. This means it’s fast enough to respond quickly to finger tip swipes of the multitouch screen, and runs any application you might find in the Android app ecosystem. Web browsing is also quick with websites rendering quickly.
- Operating System – ViewSonic have highly customising the Android 3.2 operating system. Most other manufacturers have left Android alone, therefore running stock Android. However, ViewSonic took a different approach, and they’ve played around with the user interface to make it easier to use. You’ll notice the tweaks immediately, first up the standard Android five desktop homescreens are replaced by seven Android homescreens, and you can even increases these to 15 desktop spaces. ViewSonic have also fiddled around with the controls and a new horizontal slider is added just above the system bar at the bottom of the screen. This horizontal slider is how you navigate these multiple homescreens. You can tap it and it zooms out to give you a 3-D overview of all your home screens. This enhancement allows you to jump between home screens quickly. You can also fill the same screens with full screen widgets provided by ViewSonic. These include things like the weather panel calendar Flickr photos, or a world clock. As per the stock Android operating system, you can put shortcuts and widgets on these home screens. Android 4.0 bought the option to create folders for your shortcuts to help organise them, but ViewSonic added the same feature in Android 3.2. There’s also a keyboard specially designed for this tablet adding various layout options. Other tweaks, include things like a vertically scrolling app drawer (rather than horizontally scrolling app draw in standard Android).
- Included Apps – Other apps pre-installed include Google services. This includes Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps, Books, Calendar, Latitude, Youtube, Places and the Android Market. There’s the stock Browser, Music, Gallary, FM Radio, and Camera apps too.
- Android Apps – The Android Market is available directly on the tablet PC, and there you can choose to download from the huge range of apps, books, and video rentals.
- ViewSonic included a number of apps pre-installed on the ViewPad 7X, these include things like Documents to Go, so you can read and edit Microsoft Office documents - Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. The other apps of note are DropBox (Cloud based file storage), TuneIn Radio, and LogMeIn Ignition. There’s also a magazines app called Next Issue where you can download digital versions of magazines.
- HDMI port – this will allow you to hook up your tablet to a high-definition TV with a HD input, and watch on the big screen whatever you’ve got on your tablet PC.
- DLNA - The ViewSonic tablet is DLNA certified, meaning you can stream high-definition video to another DLNA certified device (such as your TV) using your Wi-Fi network.
- Radio – An FM radio tuner is included so you can listen to FM radio.
- Stereo speakers - these provide a reasonable output for audio. No tablet has ever delivered a really fantastic stereo output and this is pretty bog standard.
- Battery – Battery life of six hours is delivered on continuous video playback – largely in-line with other Android 7-inch tablet PCs.
- Cameras – Front facing camera for web chat is a 2-megapixel camera. This means you can download applications like Skype, for video chat.
- Rear facing camera – this is 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. It’s capable of shooting high-definition video (720p) and ok still images. It’s useful to have these cameras, but the overall output is pretty average as is standard with these lower spec tablet cameras.
- Micro USB port – this is used for hooking up to a PC and swapping files on and off the tablet. It’s also used for charging the tablet.
- Touchscreen – The ViewPad 7X has got a capacitive multitouch screen, it’s responsive and delivers ok images. The screen has a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. We note here then that the screen isn’t the brightest or as crisp as other tablet PCs we’ve seen.
- Build – Build quality is decent enough. The colour scheme of black with a maroon trim, looks a little retro and dated though.
- Memory – The on-board storage for this tablet PC is limited to 8 GB so there isn’t a great deal of space to load music, video and other documents. You can supplement the this by using the MicroSD slot to load a MicroSD card. These are fairly inexpensive to buy.
- Getting Online – Connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth only – this means that you can’t use a 3G connection, and you’ll need to be within range of a Wi-Fi network in order to get online to download emails, or browse the Internet.
Tablet Review Summary
Overall the ViewSonic ViewPad 7X is a decent tablet. It’s principle differentiating feature is the customised version of Android Honeycomb that supplies the user interface/operating system. Whilst these features are interesting and may slightly enhance the stock Android experience, they’re not particularly revolutionary and feel like tweaks rather than a complete step change in user experience.
However, these tweaks add up and when you couple them with a good range of features, ports and the cameras, you have a compelling proposition. A better screen would have made me recommend it, but it just came up short there.
Most consumers will go for the brands they know best and trust, this tablet doesn’t stand out enough to tempt them to a smaller brand but if you can find a good price, then don’t count it out.