Android is fun, right? Well, we like it anyway. But a time comes when you have to put aside app-store and video-playback fripperies, and put your nose to the grindstone. ViewSonic understands this, and wants to prove it with the ViewPad 10 Pro, a 10.1-inch tablet that runs both Android and Windows 7, catering for your personal and work life respectively.
The ViewPad 10 Pro will be out in May for around £550. Here are our first impressions.
The 10 Pro feels well-built and generally sturdy. Its edges are tapered just like those of the iPad, so it feels thinner than it actually is.
On the back, there's a rubberised coating that helps you to grip the device, preventing it from sliding out of your mitts and down the gap between the train and the platform. The tablet measures 170 by 262 by 15mm, so it's not too massive.
The 10 Pro weighs 800g, which is heavy compared to some of the other tablets we saw at Mobile World Congress this year. For example, the similarly sized Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 weighs a paltry 599g, while the iPad weighs about 680g.
The 10 Pro's weight is a definite downside. Tablets are meant to be portable so, if they're too hefty to lug around comfortably in your satchel or hold with just one hand, their usefulness is decreased.
The 10.1-inch display has a resolution of 1,024x600 pixels. ViewSonic told us that the sample we were toying with at Mobile World Congress wasn't a final product, so we don't want to judge too harshly, but it seemed to have quite a low-res screen compared to the similarly sized competition. The Galaxy Tab 10.1's display, for example, has a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels.
The 10 Pro can run two operating systems at the same time: Android and Windows 7. Our sample ran Android 2.2 Froyo, although we were told the 10 Pro will eventually get an update to 3.0 Honeycomb, a snazzy, tablet-optimised version of Google's mobile operating system.
Windows 7 is a great operating system for work purposes, although we have concerns about tablets that run this software -- it's not built for such devices and it can be difficult to poke the right icon when everything's rendered at such a small size on the screen. Similarly, work-focused software like Excel or Word isn't built for tablets -- you really need a keyboard and a mouse. Overall, then, don't hold your breath for a massive productivity boost if you opt for a Windows 7 tablet.
Those concerns aside, switching between the two operating systems seems really simple. There's an Android button on the screen when you're running Windows 7, and a Windows logo in the home menu when you're running Android. The switch from Android to Windows 7 is nearly instantaneous, whereas it takes about 2 to 3 seconds to switch from Windows 7 to Android, which is more than bearable.
Inside, the 10 Pro harbours a 1.5GHz Intel Oak Trail processor, which will hopefully keep everything ticking over pleasantly.
We can't say we're looking forward to the arrival of the ViewSonic ViewPad 10 Pro as much as the other Android tablets on the horizon. But, if you really can't live without Windows 7 on your touchscreen device, this will be a worthy contender for your cash. Stay tuned for a full review.
Edited by Charles Kloet