An interesting idea, but is a dual-boot tablet for everyone?
IFA this year saw a host of tablets. Along with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Toshiba Folio, was the ViewSonic ViewPad 100; the first dual-boot tablet capable of running Android 1.6 and Windows 7 Home Premium.
T3 got some exclusive hands-on time with the tablet and it’s interesting concept, so here are our first impressions. We should point out that our sample wasn’t fully working, so we weren’t able to try certain features.
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Packing a 10-inch screen it’s fairly heavy and certainly the type of device you need to hold with two hands. The bigger size and lack of style touches (such as the Apple iPad’s aluminium back) make it arguably look more like a business device.
Instead of opting for virtual buttons, wisely ViewSonic’s chosen to include sollid three buttons which sit on the side: power, home and back. Elsewhere connections include 2x UBS - for using a peripheral like a mouse or hard drive - a VGA port and audio in. Elsewhere there’s Bluetooth, aGPS and WiFi, while storage takes the form of a 16GB solid state drive, expandable via MicroSD.
Hit the power button and during boot up you get a rudamentry black set-up screen which lets you choose between Windows or Android OSs. It’s very clunky and not appealing on the eye, but hopefully this will change before launch
Running a full version of Windows 7 Home Premium, the ViewSonic ViewPad 100 boots surprisingly quickly - far quicker than many netbooks we’ve used recently. From there it’s vanilla Windows, with the usual Media Center and applications.
Switch to Android and you get 1.6, so the same as the Dell Streak, which instantly lends itself to touch commands far more than the Windows side. Without a skin the interface is pure Android, but the usual cusomisable apps, pull-out menu and status bar which lets you control connectivity options.
Powered by an Intel Atom N455 1.6Ghz processor and 1GB RAM, the ViewSonic Viewpad 100 seems fairly quick, we were able to shut down and swap between programs without much trouble, it’s certainly comparable to the many netbooks we’ve used that share the same processor.
The 10-inch capacitive 1024x600 screen is bright and sharp, the G-sensor quickly swaps the picture when you move the tablet between landscape and portrait orientation. Hold your finger down to right click, while touch commands respond quickly as you scroll whether you’re scrolling through images or typing on the virtual keyboard, which dominates the screen somewhat. It’s certainly more responsive than Fusion Garage joojoo tablet and Archos 7 Home Tablet.
Running a Windows test movie, video picture quality is fine, although colours aren’t amazingly bright, and while a bit tinny, sound quality from the bottom speakers is easily loud enough for a couple of people to watch a movie.
An area where the ViewSonic Viewpad 100 surpasses the iPad is with the inclusion of the 1.3-megapixel webcam, but you need to ensure a card is inserted first.
First impressions of the ViewSonic Viewpad 100 are pretty good, it certainly does exactly what you expect and certainly is one of the better Windows tablets we’ve seen, although we weren’t able to try the browser or battery.
At the moment though, we're not sure who will be buying it. Its certainly an option for anyone not quite sure about Android, but wants a tablet. While anyone who’s looking for a more portable alternative to a netbook, with access to Windows software for work or school will certainly appreciate the Windows 7 functionality. Perhaps the Android side, with it’s wide range of apps perhaps offers a more leisure or social element. Either way, the ViewSonic Viewpad 100 is an interesting concept and we’ll bring you a full review when it launches in October.