ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet (preview)

ViewSonic ViewPad 7 preview: This 7in Android tablet will aim to compete with the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab when it launches in January 2011.

ViewSonic is the latest manufacturer to announce an Android-powered tablet that will compete with the popular Apple iPad. The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 boasts a 7in capacitive touchscreen, and runs the latest 2.2 "Froyo" version of Android.

[More information on the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 and ViewPad 10 Australian launch.]

The ViewPad 7 will be the first tablet to hit the market from a company better known for its low priced LCD and LED monitors. ViewSonic has described the device as "a smartphone, computer, game centre and e-book all combined in one".

We were lucky enough to get our hands on a demo unit at a media preview in Sydney last week; the hardware won't change, but ViewSonic representatives were keen to point out that the software was still in preproduction.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 has a much more industrial-feeling design than the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It is squarer, with sharp edges and a more boxy design, in contrast to the sleek curves and plastic back of the Galaxy Tab. At 375g, it almost weighs the same as Galaxy Tab.

In our brief hands-on, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7's capacitive touchscreen was reasonably responsive, but did not feel as smooth as the Galaxy Tab's or the iPad's. When we get our hands on a review unit early in 2011 we'll do some more in-depth testing.

Like the Galaxy Tab, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 also has mobile phone capabilities and features dual cameras, meaning it can be used to make videoconference calls across a 3G or wireless network. The ViewPad 7 is a 900MHz and 2100MHz 3G device, meaning it won't work with Telstra's Next G network, which runs on the 850MHz network band.

ViewSonic will sell the ViewPad 7 for $699 outright, but hasn't announced any retail or telco distribution partners at this stage. We think this may be a tab too expensive considering you can grab a 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G for just $100 more, but we won't render a final verdict until we test the ViewPad in January.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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