Smartphones

Review: The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 dual-boot tablet should go back to the drawing board

With the ViewPad 10, ViewSonic has taken an intriguing idea and muddled it up with some very poor choices.

I am a fan of more choices, especially when it comes to my computing devices. The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 aims to give users a choice of operating systems: Windows 7 or Android 1.6. However, the way in which ViewSonic put this device together suggests a company with a lot to learn about what it takes to make a great tablet PC.

Specifications

  • Company: ViewSonic
  • Product: ViewPad 10
  • Dimensions: 10.8" x 6.7" x 0.57" (WxHxD), 1.93 pounds
  • Display: 10.1 LCD Capacitive multitouch screen with LED backlight 1024x600
  • Networking: Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Camera: 1.3 megapixel camera (front facing)
  • CPU: Intel Pine Trail N455 1.66GHz, Mobile NM10 Express chipset
  • Memory: 2GB, 16GB SSD
  • Battery: Lithium Ion lasts about four hours of typical use
  • Dual-Boot Operating Systems: Windows 7 Home Premium with Android 1.6 (upgradable to 2.2)
  • Connections: Two USB ports, an HDMI port, and Bluetooth
  • Cost: $580 on Amazon
  • Get additional information

Who is it for?

The ViewSonic ViewPad 10 is designed for the tablet user looking to have the best of both worlds: Windows 7 and Android.

What problem does it solve?

Because the ViewSonic ViewPad 10 offers a dual-boot configuration, users can choose which operating system and ecosystem they want to use. That choice gives them access to Android apps as well as productivity applications common to Windows 7 users.

Special features

  • Dual boot: The obvious feature that distinguishes the ViewPad 10 is that it is a dual-boot device. The ability to choose your operating system is intriguing.
  • Style: The ViewPad 10 looks good, with a glossy finish and crisp display. There are an appropriate number of USB connections and an HDMI out. The inclusion of Bluetooth could come in handy for connecting a keyboard and mouse.
  • Display: The LED backlight screen looks great and seemed fairly responsive, and this is probably the best feature of the ViewPad 10.

What is wrong?

  • No physical volume button: There is now a physical volume button that makes adjusting the volume very awkward, especially in Windows 7.
  • Android 1.6: The ViewPad 10 ships with Android version 1.6, which is almost useless. Users can upgrade to Android 2.2, which is better, but that version is still behind the curve.
  • CPU: The device is hampered by the low-powered CPU it contains. The older Intel Atom processor chosen for the ViewPad 10 makes everything sluggish.
  • Value: At almost $600, the ViewPad is way over-priced. In fact, at that price I can't see the device making much of an impact on the market at all.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

The ViewPad 10 is an interesting idea waiting for someone to properly execute it in a practical manner. I think there is a place for dual-booting devices, and I would like to see some manufacturer really put some thought and engineering muscle behind the concept. But the ViewPad 10 as it currently ships is just an over-priced device looking for a market.

By compromising the CPU and the Android version, ViewSonic has practically doomed this device to footnote status when it comes to tablet history. Avoid it -- there are much better tablets with more value on the market.

Note: I was surprised at how well Windows worked with a touchscreen after hearing several horror stories. But, while it is obvious that the GUI is designed for the precision of a mouse, with tweaking, I can see potential for Windows 8 to be a viable touchscreen OS. I am looking forward to seeing what Microsoft has up its sleeve in this regard.

User rating

Have you encountered or used the ViewSonic ViewPad 10? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

13 comments
caro31
caro31

Good concept ! Tanks R??paration compteur auto

formule1
formule1

Am I expecting too much from ViewSonic. Formule 1

Slayer_
Slayer_

And trying to get stable drivers for hardware that can work on both Windows and Andriod. Can Windows run on those new nVidia processors? Probably after 2 years of development, they gave up, said, "Sell it", and try and regain the costs of research..

fhrivers
fhrivers

This is a step in the right direction but it is still wrong. The tablet should be running Gingerbread in tablet mode and Windows 7 in desktop mode. ViewSonice should have created a dock with an SSD in it and extra memory which would create a low-end PC.

31jumps
31jumps

Viewsonic has an Android 2.2 tablet, same size, same screen resolution, same networking and same camera called the Gtablet for $299 most places. Has 2 usb ports (one for external devices and 1 to slave to a pc for file xfer). Battery last like 8 hrs, tho. Has Nvidia dual core cpu and nvidia graphics. My first tablet and pretty cool, tho narrow viewing angles. Anyway, darn strange the Android costs as little as it does when the similar Viewpad 10 costs twice as much and has android 1.6. Go figure

coolninja
coolninja

Redfox is an Asian brand and they came up with the Wizpad (has Win 7 but has the option of loading Android) and I bought one in December last year. It has 2 USB ports, no speaker volume buttons and has the same 3 buttons as the viewpad. I may be wrong but I think viewsonic just relabeled the Redfox tablet. Anyway, yes, the machine is underpowered and of course being Windows-based doesn't boot up as fast as an iPad or Galaxy. However, it meets my needs so I'm happy.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... though based on this article Viewsonic made some terrible mistakes. * Two USB ports? The thing's a tablet, it shouldn't need any, but one is enough since you can obviously use a hub to connect multiple devices. * Android 1.6? Come on now, we're up to 2.3 and even 3.0. A very poor choice for this late in the game. * 4 hours of estimated battery life. That's worse than most modern laptops and doesn't even come close to most of its tablet competitors. * At almost 2 pounds, it's also one of the heaviest new tablets on the market when so many people complained about how heavy the iPad was. Ok, dual boot is a good idea, but Windows 7 is not yet ready for prime time when it comes to tablets; I don't blame Microsoft for this, but rather the developers who even now seem to refuse to create touch-capable software for Windows even after 10 years of being the only game on the block. I guess it will take Apple showing people how to do it before Windows will finally get some 'touch love.'

Justin James
Justin James

Over a year ago I bought an Android phone and it was running 1.6, and I was disappointed that it was behind the times... 1.6 in mid-2011 is bizarre. That is like shipping a PC with Windows ME on it today, or a phone with Windows CE... J.Ja

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Am I expecting too much from ViewSonic. I just don't see how the company thinks the ViewPad 10 is a marketable device?

nwallette
nwallette

A good UI is not stumbled upon, it's engineered to exploit the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of a platform. Apple embodied this when they created the iPhone and showed the world how to do touchscreen and mobile browsing. Now, Microsoft and Google are in the game too, and all three have good ideas on how to balance features with usability. If you throw a generic mouse-centric toolkit at an ecosystem of developers, there's no unifying design. No spear-head to research the myriad use cases and try to create a system that works well (-enough) for all of them. This leads to hundreds of ideas on how things should be done, with no consistency, and very little fore-thought for other applications. The OS vendor has to create the UI widgets, and conceive the usage paradigms, that make mobile, touch-based computing feasible. Then, the applications developers take that tool set and apply it to problems. Finally, the users use those tools. This is the order of things. You can't put Windows' failure as a tactile platform on the backs of developers. It wasn't their job. There's a YouTube video on that hideous touch-table thing that Microsoft made. What was it called.. MS Surface Computing. Someone re-worked the voice over and nailed the gist of it: "Microsoft has seen the future of touch computing ... and it's a big-ass table." Can't imagine where that went wrong...

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I agree, but the developers are just as much at fault because Microsoft promoted the touch-screen-capable versions of Windows over 10 years ago and the only places I know of that used that capability had to have their apps custom built for their needs; no commercial software developer touched it. Why? because the majority of them couldn't see a use for touch any more than the majority of IT techies could see a use for the iPad when it first came out, despite the evidence offered by Nokia's, RIM's and Apple's smart phones using one version or another of touch effectively. You look at iOS now and there are a reported half million or more applications available in just under four years. How many touch applications for Windows are there after more than ten? Yes, I agree that the UI is important, but at the same time I see constant complaints that the iOS UI looks like a toy and is inefficient for business use. Oddly those complaints seem to come only from IT and not the people who actually use them. I, personally, have complained that the biggest fault with touch-Windows was that they tried to simply replace the mouse with touch without realizing how tiny and precise some applications required pointer placement to function properly and adapting controls accordingly. Application developers should have seen this and modified their UIs accordingly but they left it to Microsoft to lead. The result? Computer progress stagnated while that also-ran nobody Apple grabbed the ball and carried it in for a touchdown.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

If you remember, most of the applications (programs) for early desktop computers weren't much different until somebody tried to make a 'one size fits all' enterprise application that is now so bloated and unwieldy that fully half of its capabilities are used by less than 1% of its users. What you describe at the end says that even our little tablets will eventually have that same problem. Personally, I hope not; I believe in the K.I.S.S. system--Keep It Simple and Stupid. The power is in the simplicity, the things it does well, not in the complexity of trying to do everything for everybody. I don't argue with having compatibilities, but rather with trying to do too much at one time. For instance, Apple's package of Pages, Keynote, Numbers and iCal is far more efficient than Microsoft's Office which tries to operate all those different functions within the same framework. Granted, Apple's apps don't have all the so-called 'features' that each part of Office carries, but as I said earlier only about 1% of Office's users even push those features. You can imagine how Office would perform on one of the new-style tablets. That's also why I believe Microsoft's original drive to promote tablets failed--they tried to make those tablets full-powered PCs without really accommodating the different GUI needed. You may not realize that a third-party company was converting MacBooks into tablets too--and they really weren't selling any better than the PC versions because they were still stuck with a mouse pointer interface. Do I want the full functionality of a desktop machine in the palm of my hand? No. Most of the time you simply don't need it. What you need is the ability to access the data important to you at the time you need it, the ability to make quick-and-dirty edits (not full final-product functionality) and communications capability. The current round of new tablets offer that even in their fledgling stage. If you need to go farther than that, then you need to sit down at a desk and do it properly.

nwallette
nwallette

Imagine having some particular desktop app (pick one) suddenly triple the size of its interface elements. Would that appeal to you as a desktop user? I am a firm believer in having a different UI for touch and desktop use. Those two worlds are just too far removed to settle for one-size-fits-all. Now, presentation and business logic are two different layers of code. (Or at least, they should be.) So, while it may not be trivial, it's certainly possible to facelift an application while keeping the investment in back-end work. Developers CAN do this, but the same problem exists of needing a good, well engineered, universal UI toolkit available that developers can take advantage of. Like Windows Forms, or gtk, or Cocoa, only with a touch-centric paradigm. On the flip side of this, a few years ago, the hardware was incapable of the performance, weight, and battery life goals that we're coming to terms with now. And we still don't truly multitask that much running code, allowing the CPU to idle the vast majority of its time. Tablets of a few years ago were miniaturized laptops, and the software was barely modified -- more of a token effort than anything. The iPad's biggest criticism was "What are we supposed to do with this thing?" That's a great problem to have when compared to the inept hardware that prior Windows tablets had. Not to mention the high prices. :-) As you said, for just a few years, there are a lot of apps for mobile touch platforms. So right now they're relatively minimal applications. Given time, the functionality will come -- right in step with more capable hardware.

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