What do you get when you cross Windows 7 and Android 1.6 on a single, dual-booting touchscreen tablet? The punch line, folks, isn't particularly funny.
Monitor maker ViewSonic is stepping into the lucrative world of tablet computing with two new entries in the Australian market, with the ViewPad 7 and ViewPad 10. While the 7-inch version runs the latest version of Google's Android, the larger of the two sports a bewildering mix of Windows 7 and a very old build of the Google smartphone platform: Android version 1.6.
The system dual boots, meaning you'll have to restart the system to switch from Android to Windows. In terms of hardware, the ViewPad 10 is built like a netbook, with an Intel Pine Trail processor clocked at 1.66GHz, 1GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD. Packed together this system weighs in at 875 grams, which is slightly heavier than Apple's iPad, but lighter than a Windows 7 netbook.
We had a brief opportunity to play with the ViewPad 10 recently, and there is still so many questions we are dying to have answered when we next have a closer look for our review process. For starters, the tablet only has three mechanical buttons, so when you're using Android the "back" button takes the role of the "menu" button, and, as far as we could tell, the only way to leave an app is to use the home button. There also doesn't seem to be a standby power button, so we're a bit confused about what you're supposed to do with the tablet when you've finished using it. Shut it down completely? This seems a bit silly for an "always-on" device.
Compared with other tablets on the market, the ViewPad 10 does have a distinct advantage in terms of connectivity. Not only does it support Wi-Fi (but no 3G), the ViewPad also has two USB ports for connecting external devices and a mini-VGA port for plugging in a monitor.
At first blush the ViewPad 10 is a confusing animal. Both Windows 7 and this older version of Android present really obvious shortcomings, and the two systems don't seem to work in unison to provide an enhanced user experience. Instead, they are like two very different children screaming for your attention. This Dr Moreau-like combination may prove to be a stroke of genius, and we'll wait for our chance to review the ViewPad 10 before passing judgement. Who knows, this could be the tablet we've all been waiting for.