The ViewPad 10e is ViewSonic's latest crack at the tablet market. The budget device takes a lot from the iPad but is sold at half the price of Apple’s latest tablet.
In terms of size and shape the ViewPad 10e is the same as Apple's iPad, bar a couple of millimetres here and there. It measures in at a respectable 242 x 189 x 9.1mm. It's a little bit lighter than the latest fruit-flavoured rival at 620g, but is heavier than the iPad 2.
The design can be described simply as plain. The front looks similar to the iPad apart from three touch-sensitive buttons. The rear is black plastic with a pair of speakers at the bottom. Most of the buttons and ports can be found on the top side of the tablet.
We didn't appreciate the cheap sprung-loaded on/off slide switch which was frustratingly hard to use.
ViewSonic ViewPad 10e: Build quality
Our first sample suffered from a cracked case, perhaps where the unit had been dropped. Build quality of the replacement sample was reasonable for a cheap tablet. However, we weren't impressed with the flimsy plastic back which still came away all too easily from the chassis in one corner.
ViewSonic took another leaf out of Apple's book with the 9.7in capacitive touchscreen of 1024 x 768 resolution. That classic 4:3 aspect ratio is unusual; most Android copies use 16:9 screens.
The screen itself delivers a decent quality picture and only lacks slightly in brightness. Importantly, image quality remained good at all viewing angles.
Unfortunately the overall performance doesn't match up to the iPad's. The ViewPad 10e interface was sometimes smooth but more often than not frustrated us with its jerky transitions and slow loading times.
While an iPad demonstrably works very smoothly with the same specification of 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, similar hardware is clearly not up to the job required of it on this Android tablet.
Performance took a serious nose dive when we tried to even browse the web on the ViewSonic ViewPad 10e.
The Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system is long out of date now so it's thumbs down here.
ViewSonic has attempted to update this with its optional ViewScene 3D interface. The design looks good in a carousel-style arrangement, and it allows up to 15 home screens. You can also organise apps into folders and select from a handful of uninteresting ViewSonic widgets.
There's a major downfall in that there's no access to the Google Play Store, formerly the Android Market. Instead apps must be downloaded from 1Mobile Market, an independent online shop with a limited choice.
Google apps such as Maps, Gmail and YouTube aren't pre-installed on the ViewPad 10e but can be downloaded.
ViewSonic ViewPad 10e: Features
Connectivity is a relatively strong point for the ViewPad 10e. The tablet has microUSB, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. Additionally a Mini HDMI port means you should be able to hook up the tablet to a TV or monitor.
Storage isn't exactly extensive on the ViewPad 10e, as it offers just 4GB onboard. You can expand this via the microSD card slot, up to 32GB.
Tablet photographers, if there really are such things, may be disappointed to hear that there is no rear-facing camera for shooting snaps. There is a 1.3Mp front-facing camera which can be used for video chat, taking pictures or recording video.
The quality is reasonable but the camera is stupidly placed at the top-right side of the device. If you hold the tablet in a regular way half of your profile is cut off in the picture.
Battery life is quoted as five hours for video playback. We found that the battery quickly drained when we did any gaming or web browsing. After eight hours’ light use it had drained to around 50 percent.