A week with the ViewSonic ViewPad 10pro Windows/Android tablet

ViewSonic's new ViewPad 10pro tablet lets you easily switch between Android and Windows 7, but there's a price to pay.

If you're interested in trying out the latest Android tablet software but have too much invested in Windows programs to walk away, ViewSonic's ViewPad 10Pro could be a solution. It acts as a convenient bridge between these two worlds.

ViewSonic ViewPad 10pro
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10pro lets you compute in both Windows 7 and Android.

Over the course of a week, I worked and played with the ViewPad 10pro, which runs Windows 7 natively and also includes the BlueStacks Android emulation software that lets it run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). The 1.8-lb. tablet is larger and about half a pound heavier than the iPad 2 and is available starting at $500 for Wi-Fi only -- currently, there is no built-in 3G available.

(I'd previously looked at its predecessor, the ViewPad 10. The ViewPad 10 is based on Intel's Atom N455 processor (rather than the newer Z670) and can be booted separately as either Windows 7 or Android 2.2, rather than running Android apps in emulation software as the ViewPad 10pro does.)

Two OSes in one

The ViewPad 10pro's main selling point is its dual operating systems, and if you want access to both Windows 7 and Android, it's a major plus. I was able to switch between Windows and Android at the flip of a finger without rebooting the system -- just by tapping an icon. For example, if I were working in Windows, I could tap on the BlueStacks icon and in 2.2 seconds the Android home page came up.

I found it intensely liberating to pick and choose which application and environment was most appropriate for the job at hand. For example, I was able to work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using Microsoft Works (the system comes with neither Works nor Office included, but I loaded the former myself). This was interspersed with moving to Android to arrange my calendar, finger paint with Paint Joy, read with the Kindle ebook app and look over dozens of newspapers with Langtoland's US Newspapers app. I also updated a website (in both Windows and Android) using the TypePad online blogging software.

The system comes with basic Android apps for Web browsing, email, scheduling and audio; there is access to the Android Market. It also includes DataViz's Documents To Go Android app for viewing a variety of files as well as Thinix's streamlined TabletBrowserand ViewSonic's ViewDraw for doodling or annotating.

Hefty and equipped

The ViewPad can be a lot of tablet to carry around. At 0.6 x 10.4 x 6.7 in. and 1.8 lb., it is larger and heavier (by 0.5 lb.) than Apple's iPad 2 tablet.

While the roughened surface on the back of the slate makes it easy to grip, the ViewPad 10pro's rounded back means that it wobbles when it's used flat on a table. Unlike the Archos 101 tablet, there's no pull-out kick stand.

Its 10.1-in. display is slightly bigger than the iPad 2's 9.7-in. screen. It has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing webcam, but lacks a rear-facing camera.

The display reacted quickly to both my finger motions (swipes as well as multi-finger) and a Wacom Bamboo stylus that I tried. The ViewSonic comes with Microsoft's standard on-screen keyboard as well as Swype's text-input system, which lets you slide your finger between characters to speed up typing.

Inside is a 1.5GHz Intel Atom Z670 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage. Unlike the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, the ViewPad 10pro lacks the ability to tap into a cell phone data network. The system comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi networking and includes Bluetooth 2.1.

Around its edge there are plenty of ports. On top of connectors for USB, HDMI and an audio headset, the system has a microSD card reader.

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