This device can be found at Viewsonic
I purchased this device with my own money, and have had no contact or business with ViewSonic previous to this review. Other than buying this tablet. And that was in a store, not with Viewsonic.
What I'm trying to say is that Viewsonic did not bribe me to do this review. Nobody else did either.
If you would like to bribe me to do a review on your merch, then send me a free one. I'll be glad to mock it publicly for you.
Ah, the android tablet device. Everyone wants one, until they find out it's not actually an iPad that costs less but does the same thing. Then, they complain. Alot. Loudly.
Well, I have news for you. Android tablets are here.
While most of you have been hearing about the Galaxy tablet, I'm not talking about that one. I'm talking about the new gTablet by ViewSonic. This new sub-$400 device now stands as the cheapest usable android tablet on the market.
What do I mean by usable? I mean it has hardware and features that rival the iPad, the defacto standard of all thing paddy and touchy. With the gTab (Yes, I went there), you can download apps, watch videos, use youtube, read PDFs and any number of ebooks from multiple publishers, listen to music, browse the web (with flash, bite me apple), and anything else you can find an app to do.
That is, if you can get it to load the update from Viewsonic that fixes a few ba-jillion issues. I mean, SERIOUS issues. "Can't connect to the network or setup gmail accounts, and it keeps crashing" issues.
If you're still reading, let me assure you: The patch they have you download DOES work. It fixes every problem I could find, and my tablet is a happy member of my tecnophile brigade of tools. Seriously, this thing runs better then my Atom netbook. Significantly smoother in use and video playback too.
Let me give you a URL for the tech specs of the device: http://www.viewsonic.com/gtablet/spec.htm
Read that, and get back to me. <waits> Back already? <frowns> You didn't even read it did you? Bah. Moving on.
The device has a noticable weight at 1.5 lbs, and is large enough to be highly visible and easy to grasp. The back is rounded, with the trim rising slightly above the glass around the front edge. While the device does not feel flexible or shoody, it is not aluminum either. The plastic backing is a mat black, with the face being a shiny black with a noticable lcd window. The front IS a shiny fingerprint magnet, just like every other black electronic device on the market. (Seriously, would it KILL you people to make things in color or just slate grey once in a while?)
The touchscreen is capacitive (meaning it notices skin contact, not pressure), as are the four 'buttons' on the front edge of the screen. This makes it easier to hit the home, search, menu, and back buttons. The downside is that it's easier to hit these buttons. Alot. When trying to hold it.
You do get used to it and learn not to touch the touchy parts.
The volume and power buttons are actual pressure switches, and have the ability to wake the device from sleep mode. To my suprise, so do the capacitive buttons as well, at least for a few moments after the machine goes to sleep.
The screen is responsive and accurate to touch, and the lcd bright with good color. The viewing angles ARE limited from some directions. In landscape view, the left to right angles darken the screen a little, while looking from a downward angle darkens it alot. Upward viewing can wash out the screen a bit. For the normal user, this is really not such a big deal, but some might find it annoying. Two people could watch a movie on it without too much of a problem, really.
Did I mention that you need to install a patch when you setup this toy. I MEAN it. Do it first. Immediatly. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to update.
In fact, you may have to try it a few times to get it to work. It failed on my twice before the charmed third attempt.
After that? It's easy.
It comes with a web browser, email client, youtube, facebook, angry birds game, and media players. You can download more options from their website, easily accessable with the favorites icon.
Whle you can't download apps from the google market, it CAN load them from a half dozen other marketplaces for android apps. I tried them all, and found that the sites run from excellent service and function to being absolute trash. With so many shops to choose from, you'll be able to find anything you need, though.
It should be noted that the device is VERY fast. It's ability to playback full screen video and games should be applauded, considering the number of so-called tablets that can't even show a menu without stuttering. At no time did the device feel like it was being stressed by the apps it was running.
This device actually includes not only a micro-SD slot, but a USB plug. A real USB hub-plug. One that would allow you to plug in a hard drive or USB thumbdrive. It should be noted you will have to use the file manager program to open the USB filesystem folder, and that it does not automaticly do so for you. That does not change the fact it's available for use, a serious upgrade from many tablets and pads on the market.
You of course have a set of common ports on the device: Headset, power, and mini USB. You also get a docking station port as well, though only china seems to have any docking stations that work yet. I found a basic wal-mart folding picture stand allowd the gTab to sit comfortably on my desk, and that a USB mini keyboard made a nice accessory for writing emails on it.
I also have just gotten word that Sony seems to be adding playstation support to Android. If this is the case, tablets are a part of the future of gaming, and I'm glad I got in on the ground floor.
And here we are. What all of you keep asking about on the forums. How's the battery life?
Pretty doggone good, actually.
Actually, no. REALLY doggone good.
During normal use, (meaning random games, web, audio video playback and the like) I got about one hour out of every 10% of my battery. That means about ten hours of hard use, as far as I can tell. Considering I've only had it a few days, that may even out lower, but 8 hours of use before it needs recharging is still quite usable when compared with most of them bleeding out in less than three hours.
Standby mode uses VERY little power, as well. It seemed to drop about 1% power per hour when sleeping. Meaning you have days of standby power. It does wake up for alarms and timers in that time, but did NOT activate the wifi, so emails did not show up until I woke it up.
Now, while this product is comparable to an iPad, I have to say again, it is NOT an iPad. It will never run apple iPad apps, though Android does have some that were ported. Also, it cannot yet play Hulu or Netflix videos. Both companies say that they will support android 'soon', but we all know what soon means in corp speak, right?
A message to Hulu and Netflix: Get off your corpspeak bottoms and whip your programmers until you support Android. No excuses. I don't want to hear about "It takes time!" or "Don't you want a bug free experience?". No. I just want you guys to get it DONE and stop puttering around on it. For god's sake people, I can't find anything legal to watch, but I can find tons of flash players dumping movies and tv shows illegally. Get it done before you don't have a market anymore. MOVE!
Overall, I feel it's a useful device, but what do *I* know. I'm just a Fool.
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