Anybody who’s anybody has a tablet coming out this year. ViewSonic has three. Last night, at the Holiday Spectacular show in New York City, we spent a bit of time with ViewSonic’s lineup and walked away both impressed and bewildered. ViewSonic has tablets with every OS available: the ViewPad 7e runs Android Gingerbread, the ViewPad 7x runs Android Honeycomb, and the ViewPad 10pro runs Windows 7 and has an Android Gingerbread emulator. Oddly, the only tablet that really stuck with us was the ViewPad 7x, the only tablet of the bunch to run an OS built for tablets.
Here’s a quick run down of the group:
ViewPad 7e: This is ViewSonic’s attempt at capturing the spirit of the Kindle. Though it’s a 7-inch Android tablet, it looks a lot like what I’d imagine the upcoming Amazon tablet might. It runs a heavily modified version of Android Gingerbread, is white (and a bit thick), and has four highly visible navigation buttons at the bottom. If it didn’t look enough like a Kindle, well, the Amazon Kindle and Amazon Appstore integration may give you a hint where ViewSonic is headed with this one. The interface was a 3D-ish carousel, like a messier version of HTC’s Sense 3.0. Overall, I didn’t spend much time with the device, but it didn’t jump out as particularly usable or intuitive at first. It’s clear that ViewSonic is going for a particular market with this one, but I’m not sure the market will bite, especially with an actual Amazon Kindle tablet on the way. It will hit shelves at the end of October for $200.
ViewPad 7x: This tablet looks a lot like Acer’s recent Iconia Tab A100 7-inch tablet. It runs what appears to be an unmodified version of Android Honeycomb, presumably version 3.2. This guy runs on a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, as seems to be the norm with Honeycomb tablets, and has full access to the Android Market. The 7x will retail for $380, which is right in the price range of most 7-inch tablets.
ViewPad 10pro: Oddly, though the ViewPad 10pro is a $600 to $700 tablet, it was our least favorite of the bunch. We weren’t happy with the responsiveness of Windows 7. The OS just isn’t built for touch, at all, and ViewSonic’s touchscreen doesn’t seem to do it any favors. We look forward to a dual-booting operating system, but so far Windows 8 seems to be more attractive than Windows 7 running Android.