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ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100 review: ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100

ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100

Brian Nadel
6 min read
You know ViewSonic for its computer monitors, but the company is branching out with a new line of handhelds and tablet PCs intended to do more computing for less cash. But unfortunately, the company's new V1100 Tablet PC--launching today, along with many other tablets and a specialized Windows XP OS--doesn't weigh less. In fact, the ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100's "slate" design is thicker and heavier than that of the Motion Computing M1200, which provides a larger screen and a few more amenities. At less than $2,000, the ViewSonic leads the low-cost tablet vanguard, but its clunky size, middle-of-the-pack performance, and short battery life disappoint. Clothed in basic black with silver accents, the new ViewSonic V1100 looks like the ViewPad 1000 (another ViewSonic Tablet PC) but all grown up, thanks to its larger screen. Housed in a flat, unhinged case, the V1100 boasts a true slate design, with a separate keyboard and a face dominated by an oversized bezel around its 10.4-inch screen. Unfortunately, the extra room around the screen translates into a slightly larger footprint than the Motion Computing M1200 Tablet PC's, in spite of the V1100's smaller screen. Regardless, the ViewSonic V1100 feels solid and easy to handle in either horizontal or vertical mode.
At 11.3 by 9.9 by 1.1 inches and 3.5 pounds, however, the ViewSonic V1100 is surprisingly large, thick, and heavy for its screen size. Without its keyboard, the V1100 is about the size of the hybrid Toshiba Portégé 3505 tablet, which includes a built-in keyboard. The ViewSonic also weighs several ounces more than the Motion M1200, and it's positively huge compared to the similarly equipped Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000, another slate-style tablet.

The keyboard is separate.

The ports on the right side.

The ViewSonic V1100's AC adapter, which requires a three-prong plug, adds nearly a pound to the already porky total. Include the 10-ounce keyboard and the 10-ounce leatherette portfolio case, and the travel weight climbs to more than 5 pounds.
Unfortunately, the rest of the ViewSonic V1100's design doesn't justify its size. We were disappointed to note that some ports have rubber covers to protect the electronics from moisture and dust, while others are left open to the elements. And though the V1100's pair of speakers play at a decent volume, they create a buzzing noise so that spoken material seems otherworldly. Listening to music on the V1100, you'd think it's coming from a cheap AM radio.
Along the right side of the screen, a row of buttons controls the machine's major functions. One of the most useful is a four-way navigation pad to scroll through pages vertically and horizontally.

Buttons on the right side, next to the screen.

The penlike stylus.

In case of a system emergency, tap the Security button (marked with a key), which emulates the three-finger salute of Control-Alt-Delete. The Windows Task Manager then appears so that you can tweak settings, show system status, and shut down unruly programs. Instant-launch keys lead to Journal (a new program in the Windows XP Tablet Edition), the Start menu, and the input panel, which is part of the handwriting-recognition technology in the new OS. Because it's so much easier to use, Motion Computing's Dashboard setup--which puts many system controls in one convenient place--is our preference.
The V1100's thin, penlike stylus, on the other hand, is a gem. Its smooth, even response makes writing on the screen easy. (Improved handwriting recognition is a big part of the specialized Windows XP Tablet Edition OS.) But you might want to wear a glove; in addition to picking up a lot of stray reflections, the screen gets hot to the touch after about 30 minutes of use.

With its 866MHz Pentium III-M processor, 256MB of RAM, and 20GB hard drive, the ViewSonicV1100 is truly a midrange tablet, but you can add another 256MB of RAM. An Intel 82830 graphics accelerator that can use up to 48MB of the system's memory feeds the 10.4-inch XGA screen. Although smaller than the Motion M1200's 12.1-inch display, the V1100's looks brighter, and the bezel is nearly flush with the screen--a nice touch.
The ViewSonic V1100 packs its case with all you'll need for general computing and connecting with most peripherals, including ports for a LAN, an external modem, audio, an external monitor, and FireWire. The tablet also includes a pair of USB slots, conveniently located on the top and the right of the tablet; that way, you can connect the included keyboard to one and a mouse to the other. When back at your desk, just snap the ViewSonic V1100 into its black desktop-docking station for access to a CD-ROM drive, a LAN, and USB outlets (there's no floppy drive).
The V1100 includes a PC Card slot, but the tablet can use CompactFlash as well--perfect for, say, importing images from a digital camera.

The CompactFlash and PC Card slots.

The ViewSonic and its leatherette cover.

Software is a mild bright spot for the ViewSonic V1100. Along with the new Windows XP Tablet Edition OS and Microsoft Office XP, you get the Citrix ICA 8.0 client, which connects you to a network. You'll also get a 30-day demo version of Franklin Covey's surprisingly nifty Tablet Planner; not only does the program mimic the paper organizer's format, you can use it horizontally or vertically.
Unfortunately, the ViewSonic V1100 isn't the consummate clotheshorse. Sure, its included black leatherette portfolio protects the tablet while you're on the road, but it doesn't make room for papers, and the cover blocks the slot for stashing the stylus.

The ViewSonic V1100 is a strong performer that, for the most part, keeps up with its tablet peers. Compared to similarly configured tablets such as the Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000, with its 800MHz Pentium III-M processor, and the Motion M1200, which has an 866MHz Pentium III-M processor, the ViewSonic held its own in our mix of productivity applications. Although it couldn't match the Fujitsu, which scored five points higher, the difference adds up to very little in real-world performance. The ViewSonic tied the very similarly configured Motion M1200.
MobileMark2002 mobile performance test
Longer bars indicate faster performance
Toshiba Portégé 3505
Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000
Motion Computing M1200
ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100
HP Compaq Tablet PC TC1000
Performance is a strong point for the ViewSonic V1100, but its battery life left us wanting more. Battery size made all the difference; the ViewSonic's small, 7.4V, 3,900mAh battery prevents it from getting significantly long battery life. It conked out after 129 minutes. Thanks to the Motion's 11.1V, 3,600mAh battery and the Fujitsu's 10.8V, 4,000mAh cell, the ViewSonic didn't come close. The Motion was the battery king in this roundup, cranking for 209 minutes, while the Fujitsu hit a respectable 180 minutes.
MobileMark2002 battery-life test
Time is measured in minutes; longer bars indicate better performance
Motion Computing M1200
HP Compaq Tablet PC TC1000
Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000
Toshiba Portégé 3505
ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both applications performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).
Find out more about how we test notebook systems.
System configurations:
Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition; 800MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel Extreme graphics controller 48MB (8MB shared); Toshiba MK2018GAP 20GB 4,200rpm
HP Compaq Tablet PC TC1000
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition; 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe-TM5800; 232MB SDRAM 133MHz; Nvidia GeForce2 Go 16MB; Toshiba MK3018GAP 30GB 4,200rpm
Motion Computing M1200
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition; 866MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82830M graphics controller-0 48MB (8MB shared); IBM Travelstar 20GN 20GB 4,200rpm
Toshiba Portégé 3505
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition; 1.3GHz Pentium III-M; 496MB SDRAM 133MHz; Trident CyberBlade XAi1 16MB; Toshiba MK4019GAX 30GB 5,400rpm
ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition; 866MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82830M graphics controller-0 48MB (8MB shared); Toshiba MK2018GAP 20GB 4,200rpm

ViewSonic's excellent Web site offers plenty of advice on most of the company's products but, so far, doesn't serve up much on the V1100; we're hoping to find more online support in coming weeks. In addition to 24-hour and e-mail support, ViewSonic plans to provide an electronic user guide online, tech-support software, and a nifty product-specific Q&A section at the site for troubleshooting.
In terms of the warranty, the V1100 falls a bit short. The one-year plan is standard for this class of PC but not long enough for such a new product.

ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Battery 5Support 7
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