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Viewsonic ViewPad 10e review

When you think of the tablet market you might immediately turn your mind to the iPad. If you are not a big supporter of Apple then the Samsung Galaxy Tab may pop into your head. However, Viewsonic is perhaps not the first company you would associate with tablets. It hopes to change this with the release of the ViewPad 10e tablet, but can it succeed or is this a doomed project?

It is probably sensible to think of the ViewPad 10e as what it is; a budget-oriented Android tablet. It is not going to tease people away from their desire to buy an iPad because it is about half the price of Apple`s most basic tablet. However, at the entry level end of the market there is still plenty of competition, so the ViewPad 10e will not have a completely easy ride.

On the outside it is difficult to avoid comparisons with the iPad 2, since the ViewPad 10e is just a couple of millimetres thicker than Apple`s device and features a similar 9.7 inch touchscreen display to boot. It is not made with quite the same quality of materials as the iPad 2, but from a distance you might easily mistake the two. The most obvious discrepancy is the presence of three capacitive Android buttons at the bottom of the screen rather than the single Apple home key.

In terms of hardware the ViewPad 10e is closer to the original iPad than its dual core successor. It has a single core 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, which does mean that it is not the smoothest tablet on the planet. However, it is neither the most unpleasant to use and you will likely forgive the occasional interface stutter or slow web page rendering process because of the low price you have paid for the device.

You will want to get a microSD memory card for the ViewPad 10e because it only has 4G of storage space built into its chassis, which does help Viewsonic to keep the price low. There is a 3.5mm audio jack at the top of the device to let you plug in headphones, as well as a USB cable to synch it with your PC. Annoyingly there is a separate charging port as the ViewPad 10e will not actually power up via USB, which might be seen as something of a downside in a world where USB chargers are becoming the norm.

Viewsonic has installed its own ViewScene user interface onto the ViewPad 10e, which uses 3D elements to let you switch between homescreens and premium widgets to keep you informed and entertained. This is one of the better aspects of the tablet since it runs an unregistered version of Android 2.3 which has no direct access to the Android Market. You will instead have to use the solid third party app download service, which is less of a problem than it seems at first.

The Viewsonic ViewPad 10e is not likely to convert iPad owners, but if you want a cheap tablet to replace portable media players or ageing laptops then you can do much worse.

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