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ViewSonic ViewPad 10e review

Verdict

Low on storage and power, but it’s a thin and light 9.7in tablet for half the price of an iPad 2

Review Date: 19 Jan 2012

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £167 (£200 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

It’s not all about Ice Cream Sandwich and quad-core processors. Consumers are crying out for affordable tablets to go alongside the iPad and its rivals, and we’re gradually seeing the quality of these cheaper offerings rise as the technology matures.

ViewSonic is the latest to go budget, with its ViewPad 10e coming in at a penny under £200. That’s a good £80 less than last year’s ViewPad 10S, yet the design is hugely improved. Gone is the uncomfortably wide aspect ratio, in favour of a 9.7in 1,024 x 768 IPS screen, and it’s also been thinned down – it’s now 9mm thick and weighs a healthy 620g. It has the usual Back, Home and Settings touch buttons beneath the screen, along with micro-USB and mini-HDMI ports, and a microSD slot to add storage.

It’s comfortable to hold – although there’s an odd strip of plastic along one edge of the rear that bends when pressed – and the IPS screen does a much better job than we expected on a cheap tablet. We measured the brightness at 342cd/m2 and contrast at 743:1, leaving the resolution as the only major issue. It never feels quite as sharp and clear as it should, particularly when dealing with small text in the browser.

ViewSonic ViewPad 10e

The large icons of Android 2.3 don’t help that; the absence of Honeycomb is a disappointment at a time when Android 4 devices are arriving. It isn’t the only compromise, either: the built-in storage tops out at a mere 4GB, there’s no rear camera, the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor is only single-core and it has only 512MB of RAM. That means performance is hardly stellar: the ViewPad 10e scored 2,101 in the Quadrant test, and took 7,013ms to complete the SunSpider benchmark and 16.2ms for our own web page rendering test.

It can feel iffy in everyday use too. Stick with the vanilla home screen or use ViewSonic’s own perfectly functional ViewScene 3D, and you’ll find menu transitions are sometimes jittery, and web pages often require a second or two after loading before they can be dragged around even semi-smoothly. It plays 720p YouTube video smoothly and in games such as Angry Birds it’s fine, but it struggles with some of today’s more intensive titles, and it only lasted 5hrs 31mins in our video-playback battery test.

But if all this sounds overly negative, just remind yourself that the ViewPad 10e is a 9.7in tablet that costs half as much as an iPad 2. No, it won’t have the power or features of a tablet at twice the price, but it’s thin and light, with a decent screen and good connectivity, and it handles basic tasks perfectly well. That’s more than we can say for an awful lot of budget tablets.

Author: David Bayon

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User comments

Low resolution screen

We get a 4x3 IPS panel in a £200 10" tablet and the reviewer complains. We get a £700+ 15" laptop with a 1366x768 TN screen, and for some reason it is considered acceptable.

Please let 2012 be the year that we get decent laptop screens with a sensible aspect ratio.

By tirons1 on 20 Jan 2012

I do sometimes wonder

..about your reviews of cheap tablets. "the built-in storage tops out at a mere 4GB, there’s no rear camera, the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor is only single-core and it has only 512MB of RAM". The 4GB is for installing apps. More than enough. The MicroSD card slot is for storing everything else. Surely a boon over an iPad, no? And what use would a dual-core processor have been in a device running Android 2.3? It only supports 1 core. " cores would have been a complete waste of money. Also, a front-facing camera is FAR more useful in a tablet (Skype!) than the pointless low-res rear cameras in other tablets. Everything you mention sounds like a brilliantly thought-out compromise that keeps down the price with a minimum impact on the user. ViewSonic's biggest mistake seems to be to have sent one to ApplePro.

By Bassey1976 on 20 Jan 2012

@Bassey1976

To criticise the lack of features is to be realistic about the current state of tablets in general. This one has lots missing, all of which have to be mentioned if it's to be a full and fair review.

On the other hand, yes, it's a well thought out compromise for price, which is why I think my generally positive conclusion agrees with you. Not sure how that makes it an "ApplePro" review.

Regards
David

By davidb_pro on 20 Jan 2012

@Bassey

I am inclined to agree with you. It is clear that this is a budget tablet, but the missing features are far from critical. It isn't state of the art, but you can browse the web, send emails and play videos happily. Sure it isn't up to full HD video, but at the price who cares.

By tirons1 on 20 Jan 2012

Looks pretty neat for the cash

Good screen size and resoloution for the cash, perfectly acceptable CPU and a MicroSD slot with Mini HDMI at this price is pretty good going.

As said, good compromises made to hit the price point of an afordable tablet. Well done Viewsonic!

By JStairmand on 20 Jan 2012

@Bassey1976

Android 2.3 only supports one core??? That cant be true, my Galaxy S2 phone has a dual core Cortex A9 at 1.2 Ghz and that runs v2.3 (v2.3.4 in my case).
Why would Sammy design in a dual core chip knowing it wouldnt work!?

By Heliosphan on 20 Jan 2012

2.3 and dual core

the kernel in 2.3.3 and 2.3.4 supports dual core but implementation of it depends solely on how the manufacturer of your hardware has modified the configuration of the Android OS. SMP is disabled by default in Gingerbread due to being in its infancy and very inefficient. ICS has the first 'stable' SMP support which makes proper usage of the additional cores in SMP devices.

By mr_chips on 20 Jan 2012

Not sure how that makes it an "ApplePro" review

Ahhh, my very own internet meme.


My work here is done.

By Lacrobat on 21 Jan 2012

xoom anyone?

original xoom available with 32GB internal memory for £245 at dixons/currys/pc world at the moment. use code TABLET10 at checkout to get 10% off and it's £225. i know which one i'd go for if i wasn't really happy with my old school galaxy tab 7" :-)

By sihaz2 on 21 Jan 2012

xoom anyone?

original xoom available with 32GB internal memory for £245 at dixons/currys/pc world at the moment. use code TABLET10 at checkout to get 10% off and it's £225. i know which one i'd go for if i wasn't really happy with my old school galaxy tab 7" :-)

By sihaz2 on 21 Jan 2012

Disappointed with the score

I remain constantly confused with how the overall scores are constructed.

Compared to other tablets this may be slower with less features, but then it's also very cheap. Does that not make this rather good? Or does a tablet have to have all the speed and goodies for it to have a good overall score?

By artiss on 23 Jan 2012

Where is the Thrive review?

I hate to say it but they are on the money about these cheap tablets so..

Why no Toshiba Thrive review?

This is the only tablet that seems to make sense and there are two of them out there, but not so you would not it in this mag!

By Pairofsai on 27 Jan 2012

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