At Mobile World Congress, we've seen plenty of smart phones and numerous tablets. Those crazy guys at ViewSonic decided it was all getting a bit too clear-cut and decided to release the ViewPad 4, which seems like a cross between both types of device.
The exact pricing and release date of the ViewPad 4 haven't been announced yet, but we expect this device will be relatively cheap.
Update: This article originally stated that the phone would run Android 2.4 Gingerbread. Google has subsequently confirmed that the correct name for this software version is.
Light as you like
The ViewPad 4 is surprisingly light, at 143g. It looks like a serious piece of kit, what with its angular chassis, so we were surprised it doesn't feel weightier. It measures 66 by 122 by 10mm, making it a large but reasonably slim device. Overall, we weren't amazed by the design. The ViewPad 4's boxy shape is quite appealing, but other devices feel better constructed
A silver slab on the bottom of the ViewPad 4 bears the ViewSonic logo, but sadly not the colourful parrots that adorn so many of the company's other products. Don't fear, though -- those feathery fellows are represented on the ViewPad 4's home screen.
The ViewPad 4 will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Our demo model ran Android 2.2. Whichever version you use, you'll find Android offers access to all the thousands of apps available in the Android Market, and the phone will play Flash video in its browser too.
The 4.1-inch, 800x480-pixel display didn't exactly blow us away. It looks sharp enough, but it's not particularly bright, and the image seems to be set quite far below the touchscreen's surface. That always makes a phone look rather cheap.
There's a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus on the back of the device and a VGA camera on the front. Bluetooth 3.0 is present as well.
The ViewPad 4 runs on a Qualcomm 1GHz processor. It ran relatively swiftly during our hands-on session, sliding between home screens admirably. Our fingers are crossed that its performance holds up when running more advanced apps or playing games.
There's a mini-HDMI port too, which is something we're seeing more and more frequently. That's handy because it means you can connect the ViewPad 4 to a high-definition telly and look at your photos or videos on a big screen. There's also a headphone port, and a slot for a microSD card.
We weren't blown away by the ViewSonic ViewPad 4. Although the hardware seems reasonably solid, the ViewPad 4 is up against a slew of competing Android devices from better-known manufacturers, and doesn't really stand out from the crowd. If it's cheap, it could be worth considering, though.
Edited by Charles Kloet