A little over a week ago I was in Berlin lamenting that many of the sweet tablets on display were not coming to the U.S. yet, maybe ever. ViewSonic’s ViewPad 10 and 7 were among them, but the company had some good news for us today.
We got a sneak peek at another of the company’s 10-inch slates, the ViewSonic G-Tablet. This one is definitely coming out in America, hitting shelves in late October. This won’t be an online-only, no touching before you buy tablet. The company plans to sell it through outlets like Costco, Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, Sears, etc. The list hasn’t been finalized yet, but you get the idea. This is a tablet meant for the masses. On the other hand, a $529 MSRP ($429 street) for a 10-inch tablet is pretty steep when you consider the Archos 101 will start at $299. Is this high-powered slate worth the premium?
(Update: we’ve corrected the starting price of the Archos 101, which starts at $299 for 8GB and goes up to $349 for 16GB.)
Unlike the ViewPad 10, which ran on an Intel Atom CPU or the ViewPad 7 with a Qualcomm chip inside, the G-Tablet is an Nvidia Tegra 2 device. Instead of dual-booting Windows 7 and Android 1.6, you just get Android 2.2. With Tegra under the hood you get snappy multitasking performance, 1080p video playback, Flash 10.1 support, and smooth gameplay (we tried a game of Speed Forge). Viewsonic will also bundle an HDMI cable in the box, which attaches to a proprietary connector on the device.
Measuring 9.96 x 6.5 x 0.5 inches, the G-Tablet is about the same size at the ViewPad 10, but perhaps a little lighter. The Android buttons — Home, Back, Menu, Search — are higher up on the left so they fall more naturally under the thumb as well, something we’ve seen on a few other large tablets and like a lot.
In our short time with G-Tablet be noted speedy performance and response. The 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 capacitive display is really beautiful, though ultra glossy. Both games and HD video played smooth, and the screen size offered a comfortable amount of real estate. The trailer for The Social Network that we found on the Mobile Flash Showcase played smoothly as well, and the audio quality from the embedded speakers was pretty impressive.
Other features include a 1.3-MP webcam up front for video chats, a USB port, microSD card slot, and 16GB of memory (which you can expand up to 32GB). Unfortunately, it looks as though the G-Tablet won’t be Google certified, so no Android Market. However, sideloading apps is possible.
The G-Tablet’s street price should be as low as $429, which is considerably less than the iPad but still $80 more than the 16GB Archos 101. To be fair, the Archos doesn’t have Nvidia Tegra under the hood; instead it’s powered by a 1-GHz Cortex A8 processor, so you likely won’t get 1080p video playback. Until we see a final build and software load, we’re going to hold off on saying whether the G-Tablet is a good value, but it certainly has potential. Check out full specs, a gallery, and our hands-on video below.