Over the last 5 months I have been trying to use a ViewSonic VPAD10. This is a touchpad similar to many out there. This one differs in that it is dual boot, I can boot to the Android operating system or Windows 7 Professional.
In this article or series I want to cover, first the Android Operating System (OS), then I will cover using Windows 7 on such a device and finally I want to cover the physical device itself.
Some people want to get to the heart of things, authors and writers however prefer to give the conclusions at the end, wanting you to read all their report. Well, I like to mix things up.
My conclusion is don’t waste your money or time on an Android tablet.
Now that I have that out of my system, I have one more thing I would like to get out too. Manufacturers please create a product or bring out old products that I can once again brag about. Really, over the last several years I have not been able to recommend much in the way of new products. Since I don’t buy into the marketing hype and have not “drank the cool-aid” of any products, I can and will be objective. Let’s get some quality, useful, and value-added products to the consumers! Ok, I feel a little better now.
The hardware specifications of this ViewPad are a 10.1” 16:9 LED (1024×600), 32 GB SDD for the two operating systems, Android 1.6, Windows 7 Pro, Intel Atom 1.66 GHz CPU, Wireless g/n.
Let’s start off with storage, the Android OS will not recognize my add-on SD storage cards. Insert ‘Soup Nazi’ voice here – “No extra storage for you”. This makes the transfer of data more difficult, you now get the privilege of opening a drop box account or something similar. Why not just access data off a shared drive on your network? Well, it appears that these devices are for cloud content only. There is a “high bandwidth” video on the ViewSonic site that is supposed to show you how to access your Widows or Mac system, however, on my 3MB connection with nothing else it took 3 minutes to buffer. Then it was so choppy the video was useless and the audio had nothing to do with accessing my local network data, oh, and it was via the Windows 7, not the Android OS.
This unit constantly wants to format the SD card yet continues to fail to do so, is this an Android or ViewSonic issue, I have not been able to find out. The hardware firmware is 1.05, it shows Android Version 4 under the Application Info for the unit, under the “About MID” the description states “software version” but once opened, there is nothing there. I believe the actual Android OS is 1.6 (according to the box). As of 8/10/11 the web site states they have version 2.2 on these systems (http://www.viewsonic.com/products/vpad10.htm). Yet the only updates are a touch firmware update for Windows 7. Nothing for the Android OS, so much for the promised upgradeability, “just buy another new one”, what a stupid mentality.
Another annoying issue is the web surfing, want a tab too bad, new pages for everything, want to go to a different web site, forget it, you must close the one you are on and open a new one, no address bar here, really, they must think this is 1989. This is beyond silly.
Alright, so you found that perfect recipe on that obscure web site, now you want to print it for future reference, NOT! Printing, not a part of the future for Android apparently, saves trees and ticks off customers.
Next lets go over Android Apps, these can be fun games, educational tools and business tools, however, of you don’t turn your 10” tablet into a phone buy purchasing a monthly 3G service, and thus pay a carrier their monthly cell phone plus data package plus text fee, forget using any worthwhile applications.
For instance I wanted to download Skype and use it on the tablet, via a wireless connection to contact friends and family, my 8 pound laptop battery dies with about 1 hour of actual use, the tablet goes all day (though I have not been able to actually “use” it all day). So I figure I can bring it to church, Skype to a missionary family we know and then pass the ViewPad around and each person can say high. No such luck, when attempting to download Skype (or any other useful apps like YouTube, FaceBook, Google Maps, Pandora, Angry Birds) I get the “There are no Android phones associated with this account” message. So much for using the Wifi. I was not able to download a single app from the “standard” store.There is an “AndAppStore” included with the ViewPad, not the standard app store on my phone. All of the optional apps here suck, that is all I will say about that.
Another in the long list of annoyances is the way the screen grays out when the on screen keyboard is active and when a search of any kind is in process, hey, why would I want to be able to see what is on the screen, kind of silly of me.
The week of August 20th I installed the Android 2.2 update (Yup, even though 3.2 is out, this can apparently still only go to 2.2).
So, what changed, well the upgrade is a complete reinstall so it formatted the hard drive, no big deal since it is an internet content tool only. Now the battery life is about 1/3 of what it was. Remember I have not been able to be serious about using this device, but running it constantly as I have been testing the battery life just dropped dramatically.
A problem I have had with both versions of the Android OS is that if it does not connect to the wireless or looses connection it does not try to reconnect. You have to go into the settings, turn off wireless and then turn it back on. The antenna/ connection still sucks, I can go into my office and lose connection every time while my laptop stays connected happily.
How about the SD card? Well I finally could “mount” it, either like a lion on the Animal Planet or a Linux geek. 14.87 GB on a 16GB SD card.
Enough about how bad the Android system sucks. Next time we will go over using Windows 7 on the ViewPad.
Until we meet again, have a virus free week.