Seeing Is Believing: ViewSonic's ViewPad 10pi4:00 PM EST Fri. Apr. 06, 2012
Unveiled at CES in January, the ViewPad 10pi from ViewSonic came to the CRN Test Center ready to boot either Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or Windows 7 Professional. It's the first device to come through the lab with Intel's Oak Trail Z670 tablet processor.
Formerly code-named Lincroft, the Oak Trail Z670 is a 32-bit, single-core (two-thread) 1.5GHz Atom processor with integrated GPU. Anxious to get a bead on the new processor's performance relative to other Windows systems we've tested, we booted Windows first. The 32-bit version of Geekbench 2.27 turned in an unimpressive top score of 790; even the slowest of laptops should approach 4,000.
While the Oak Trail processor might offer Geekbench a slow ride due to its on-chip GPU, the Windows experience itself was far better than that of Andoid. Menus appear and applications boot with adequate responsiveness, and our Windows applications installed and ran as expected. And what Intel's latest 32-bit application processor lacks in raw performance it makes up for in power efficiency. With a thermal design power (TDP) rating of between 1.3 and 3 watts, we were able to browse the Web over Wi-Fi and perform other attended and unattended tasks for about six and a half hours on a single charge. That was with all Windows power-saving features enabled. Not quite iPad efficiency, but still not too shabby.
The ViewPad 10pi isn't the heaviest tablet we've tested, but it's close. At 1 pound, 12 ounces, it's on the heavy side for one-handed holding over long periods. But while it's in hand, rubber strips on its bottom give it a sure grip. Its new 1,280 x 800 10.1-inch LED is bright and crisp, and it's surrounded by an inch-wide black glass, which adds contrast and keeps clumsy thumbs from disturbing what's on the screen. The left edge (shown) is the only side that's unencumbered by ports. But elsewhere, the ViewPad 10pi has more ports than Lower Manhattan.
The ViewPad 10pi is the clear winner in the most controls, ports and indicators department when compared with other tablets we've seen. On the unit's right edge (shown) are two USB 2.0 ports and two like-size holes that we have to believe will keep ViewSonic's service technicians up at night. One's for audio output and the other for the power input.
On the bottom edge is a reset hole, accelerometer on/off switch, microphone opening, docking port and SD Card slot, which can add as much as 32 GB of memory to the unit's 64-GB SSD-based storage. System memory is fixed at 2 GB, the most the ViewPad's processor will address. ViewSonic also went with bare-bones cameras; a 3.2-megapixel sensor is in the rear and 1.3 megapixels can be captured up front.
On top, a menu button logs out of Windows or locks the screen, and in Android brings up the current app's menu. Moving left to right, next is a home button, which on Windows alternates between the desktop and the current app, and on Android brings up the home screen. Next, ViewSonic cleverly combines volume and brightness functions into one button pair, with short presses controlling the former and long the latter. A corresponding visual indicator is superimposed on the screen while these controls are in use. Next in line, three LEDs indicate power, battery and connectivity, followed by a slider switch for system power and a back button.
ViewSonic estimates the street price of the ViewPad 10pi at $849 including a 10.1-inch multitouch LCD display with 1,280 x 800 maximum resolution, set for dual-boot Windows 7 Professional and Android 2.3 on a 64-GB solid-state drive running on 2 GB of memory. Also included in the price are Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth, G-sensor (accelerometer), front and rear cameras, ambient light sensor, Li-Polymer battery and microphone and stereo speakers.
While we weren't terribly impressed with its Android experience, that will improve as ViewSonic adopts later versions of Android. However, we see great promise in the ViewPad 10pi as a platform for running Windows 7 and perhaps Windows 8 (we'll let you know). The unit is scheduled to ship by mid-April.