Hands On With Viewsonic’s 7-Inch And 10-Inch Tablets

 title=Viewsonic’s two tablets shown off at IFA this week couldn’t be more different. One’s a ten-inch behemoth running both Windows 7 Home Premium and Android 1.6, while the other is a stylish, compact 7-inch number running Android 2.2. Guess which one felt like torture to use?

I managed to get some hands on time with both units today at IFA. While neither was quite the final build of the product that’s expected to ship in October, it was very easy to get a feel for each one’s strengths and weaknesses.

ViewPad 100
The 10-inch model dual boots Windows Home Premium 7 and Android 1.6. While this fact alone might attract users to it for the perceived versatility, it’s more an indication of just how useless Windows 7 is when it comes to pure touchscreen devices. That said, the capacitive touchscreen worked well with both operating systems, with the N445 Atom processor and 1GB DDR3 RAM easily handling the very basic tasks I was throwing at it.

On the Android side of things – well, it’s a little disappointing it’s only running 1.6, but a Viewsonic rep explained that 1.6 is the most recent version of the OS that’s supported on an Atom processor. Actually switching operating systems was also an interesting situation, taking things back to text-only options as though you were playing with the command line.

The unit on the stand had a SIM card slot on the side, alongside a MicroSD card slot, mini-VGA output and 2 USB ports, but apparently it won’t be a 3G model at launch.

The 10-inch tablet is expected to cost around €549 ($775) when it launches in Europe in October, although Australian details have’t been announced yet. Either way, I’d probably save my money, especially when you compare their 10-inch model to the…

ViewPad 7
Compared to the 10-inch model, the ViewPad 7 is like discovering a diamond in a lump of coal. Weighing 375 grams and made of plastic (yet with the convincing appearance of stainless steel), the 7-inch is a much more attractive option. Not only does it run the latest version of Android (Froyo), but it definitely comes with a SIM card slot, allowing it to be used as a phone as well as an ereader, tablet PC, satnav or any other random smartphone app you can think of.

The 7-inch tablet runs on a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, but the unit I played with didn’t seem to suffer for it. Flicking between the five Android home pages was extremely responsive, although the g-sensor refused to auto rotate when I moved the device.

Naturally, the 7-inch Viewsonic tablet is going to draw immediate comparisons with the Galaxy Tab I played with yesterday. Overall, the Samsung was a much more attractive offering, but the Viewsonic’s price of around €399 ($569) definitely helps make it a viable alternative.

Once again though, we’ll have to wait and see whether or not we’ll see either product in Australia…

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