The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 is a 7in tablet in the mold of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and also equipped with Google's mobile phone software Android 2.2.

The ViewSonic ViewPad is one of two new Android tablets from the company best known for its computer screens. The other, the ViewSonic ViewPad 10, is a 10in model that dual boots into Windows 7 too – it remains to be seen how well it pulls that off.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7, however, is a largely successful and likable Android Froyo 2.2 tablet that is more like a Filofax than a tablet PC. Wrapped in a smart, slip-resistant folio case with a lid that’s secured by an elastic strap, we took the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 on several commutes without realising we had been lugging it around London. It weighs 375g without its jacket, but 517g with it.

Styling-wise, ViewSonic could be accused of creating an oversized Apple iPhone 4, only here with a fake metallic band around its circumference.

The ViewSonic company's blue parrot logo adorns the tablet’s screen too. We liked the fact that this is a widescreen tablet. At a 2:1 aspect ratio, it's wider than the 16:9 standard.

The ViewSonicViewPad 7’s resolution of just 800x400 pixels is less pleasing. The capacitive panel is fairly responsive, but not as accurate as on better touchscreen devices such as the iPhone/iPad, Sony Xperia or Samsung Galaxy S.

The ViewSonicViewPad 7’s default is to switch off the display after just 30 seconds of inactivity. With the awkward power switch partly hidden by a clasp for the case, you can’t reflexively knock it back into life.

A 3G module is included and there's also Wi-Fi to get you online. We would have hoped for wireless n connecitivity in a £399 device rather than being stuck on b and g though.

Bluetooth 2.1 is also supported and there’s a mini USB port for connecting to a computer or a separate keyboard. You'll need a little keyboard with a mini USB plug, such as the Storage Option SOKPAD.

The GPS sensor works well with Google Maps – we could see ourselves using the ViewSonicViewPad 7 as a large satnav device.

A G-Sensor allows automatic switching between landscape and portrait modes, although the home screen seemed to be stuck in portrait mode, making upright handheld use very difficult.

The ViewSonicViewPad 7 has a pair of embedded speakers, top and bottom in portrait mode. Storage only runs to 512MB of flash internally and must be supplemented via the microSD media card slot, up to a maximum 32GB.

The processor is a 600MHz chip that falls below our expectations. It adds to our feeling that you’re paying a lot for a solid but not ground-breaking device.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?

ViewSonic ViewPad 7: Specs

  • Handheld tablet
  • 7in (800 x 400) 2:1 capacitive touchscreen LCD
  • Google Android 2.2 OS
  • Qualcomm MSM 7227 600MHz ARM processor
  • 512MB flash storage
  • microSD card slot
  • SIM slot
  • HSDPA modem
  • 802.11b/g
  • Bluetotoh 2.1 + EDR
  • stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • mic
  • 3MP back-facing and 0.3Mp forward-facing cameras
  • mini-USB 2.0
  • 179 x 110 x 12mm
  • 375g
  • Handheld tablet
  • 7in (800 x 400) 2:1 capacitive touchscreen LCD
  • Google Android 2.2 OS
  • Qualcomm MSM 7227 600MHz ARM processor
  • 512MB flash storage
  • microSD card slot
  • SIM slot
  • HSDPA modem
  • 802.11b/g
  • Bluetotoh 2.1 + EDR
  • stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • mic
  • 3MP back-facing and 0.3Mp forward-facing cameras
  • mini-USB 2.0
  • 179 x 110 x 12mm
  • 375g

OUR VERDICT

Despite various issues, this user would be happy to call the ViewPad 7 our own and could see ourselves making use of its video and gaming features. A netbook/laptop trade-in for £100 off at Misco makes it a better deal right now – we’d hope to see the standard price drop by this amount by early 2011.

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