Video Hands-On: Is Tegra 2-Powered ViewSonic G-Tablet Worth the Premium?

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.

Full Specs:

  • CPU: 1GHz nVidia Tegra 2 Dual Cortex A9
  • 3D acceleration, GPU Flash 10 acceleration
    • OS: Android 2.2
    • Display: 10-inch 1024 x 600 (16:9)
      • Capacitive Multi-Touch
    • Storage: 512MB SLC + 16G NAND Flash
    • RAM: 1GB DDR2
    • 1.3m webcam w/ built in microphone
    • Wireless: 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
    • Ports: Mini HDMI; Mini USB; Earphone; Micro SD card slot
    • Audio: Two 1W speakers
    • G sensor / Light sensor
    • Battery: 3500mAHr / 7.4V Li-polymer battery
    • Estimated 8 hrs 1080p video, 10hrs 720p video, 10-12 hrs mixed mode
LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

  1. Howard Says:

    Hello,

    There’ve been a number of sources in recent days that stated that the Tegra 2 cannot handle 1080p H.264 in High Profile. Can you try running a 1080p MKV at high profile on the review unit and see if that’s true? Thanks.

  2. Paul Currie Says:

    I thought the base Archos 101 was $299?????

  3. Jimi Says:

    Just a Quick Correction that everyone keeps getting wrong. The Archos 101 starts out at $299 not $3.99 according to Archos.com. This make the price separation between the two even greater.

  4. Mark Spoonauer Says:

    Pricing for Archos corrected and thanks for pointing that out. There’s an $80 delta when you compare the two 16GB versions of these tablets. However, as I’ve added to the post, the Viewsonic is powered by a dual-core Tegra chip, while the Archos has a Cortex A8. We’ll have to test out the performance difference, and we’ll try H.264 1080p.

  5. jd Says:

    I never thought I’d say something like this, but
    fake iPad is fake.

    pro tip: 1080p is shorthand for 1920 x 1080.
    this display is 1024 x 600. I would cut this short and say ‘do the math’ but it’s a fair bet you can’t, so…
    1024*600 = 614400.
    1920*1080 = 2073600.

    so, in summary, this thing has 29% of the pixels of a 1080p display. not in the same ballpark, or even the same galaxy. this is your job? i mean, someone pays you to do this?

  6. Paul Currie Says:

    so if the ViewSonic has “$529 MSRP ($429 street)” then what is the street price on the Archos? (MSRP of $299.00)
    I think your assumption has to be across the board…… no?? If you do that, does it not make the Archos look that much more compelling?

  7. Kris Says:

    @jd

    I think the 1080p playback ability is for that HDMI out capability to a 1080p TV.

  8. jk Says:

    the archos 101 gb version is up for preorder at J&R Music World for $294

  9. barzattacks Says:

    @JD

    And this is why you don’t get paid for this..

    ——

    Kris Says:
    September 17th, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    @jd

    I think the 1080p playback ability is for that HDMI out capability to a 1080p TV.

    Read more: http://blog.laptopmag.com/video-hands-on-with-the-viewsonic-g-tablet#ixzz13zHhs5M0

  10. Zenwood Says:

    Available today at Staples for $399.

  11. CPU-MD Says:

    Heads-up…. Sears is selling these for $350 December 10,11,12 They seem to be selling quite quickly

  12. xoovos Says:

    Got one for xmas. Never did boot up like the pdf says. could not get into setup, crashed on application startup. Did get wifi to work after some work. Down loaded the update and some things did work after that. tried to play music, one track played and crashed on second track. Don’t even think about using the speakers for listening. After charging for 3 hrs per instructions, battery life was <5hrs with wifi on. No warning that battery is low, it just shuts down. Wifi in the house was poor unless your in the same room as the access point.
    Some good things, feel is not bad but you really need a stand. Screen is nice, but it is reflective in the wrong light. On screen keyboard works ok for this fat fingered guy, but if you have to type numbers and letters switching back a forth is a pain, could some one make a hex key pad apk?
    Over all I would like it if it worked like the web site says it should. If your looking to buy wait a few months and see if they can fix the problems, my thought is that they were pushing hard to get it out for xmas and haven't worked out all the bugs and there are a lot of bugs. Bear in mind that I have only worked with it for a few hours, for a linux user like me the interface is a bit to work around.

  13. Mike Says:

    This tablet is great! I’ve had it for just under a week and it’s worked flawlessly. That being said, the first thing I did is root it and install the TnT 4.4.0 on it. Still 2.2, but vanilla. Gives you full access to the Google Market with the mod. Hands down this tablet is FAST (once rooted). I did a benchmark test on it and it doubled the best Android devices on it.

    I mostly play 480p/720p styled avi’s on it, which run flawlessly. 1080p also works well if you’ve got a player with Hardware encoding instead of Software coding (but it’s really only 1080p if exported to a TV)

    I don’t know how the other reviewer could say they got less than 5 hours on the battery? I played a bunch of graphic intensive games, music, surfing, video, etc. I haven’t ONCE got less than 8 hours on a charge. They probably left it stock with the crappy software that is included with Viewsonic. That’s a big mistake. It’s just after 5:30pm, I’ve been using it constantly since about 11:30am, and I’ve STILL got almost 40% battery life. That’s pretty great in my books!

    For anything else, browsing is fast and responsive and the multi-touch is helpful. I had no problems at all connecting to the Wi-Fi (less than 20 seconds and I was online). And the range is great on it. Not only do I not have to be in the same room as the Wi-Fi point, but even outside where my iPhone 4 loses the Wi-Fi connection, I’m still getting 3 bars on my tablet.

    For anyone who likes Linux, you can also install Ubuntu 10.10 on this. It will run along side of Android 2.2. You can have a full desktop with all the bells and whistles and it runs it like a champ!

    I have never had anything crash other than a few shotty coded games that I installed. The sound quality is on par with what I get out of my iPhone so I can’t complain about that either.

    The only complaint I have is the stock TapNTap is GARBAGE. You need to install the Clockwork and install TnT 4.4.0 or another version to make this tablet truly great. Frankly Viewsonic could have cleaned the shelves with these if it wasn’t running that garbage firmware out of the box, but it’s a piece of cake to mod it.

    BTW, Tigerdirect.ca was selling these things at $299. WELL worth the value. They’re also selling around $299 at Amazon as of a few days ago.

  14. Chris Says:

    I’ve had one for several weeks, picked up on Woot for $280 + $5 shipping.

    First things first…I never used the stock Viewsonic Tap’n’Tap OS. I rooted it immediately out of the box. I started with VEGAN 5 (Froyo) and after a couple of weeks checking out the awesomeness, I rooted again to VEGAN 7 (Ginger) only to notice that it got even more awesomer (if you comment on the word awesomer then you are missing the point).

    Anyhow, this does play movies flawlessly (using Mobo Player). Unlike the iPad that my wife uses, I don’t have to mess with the AVI or MP4…just copy and play. The screen gestures are great in Mobo.

    The internal speakers are really quite good for their size.

    I picked up a fake-suede, fuede if you will, case over at ElectronicCrap (FUSE Case in Khaki). It’s a really good case, I like the feel.

    The ability to just copy music, movies, pictures, whatever…directly through a standard USB cable is really great. I don’t have to switch over to Windows to start the bloatware (iTunes, I’m talking to you here) just to copy a dozen songs over. I really appreciate not having to convert the Handy Manny MP4 collection, they just play as-is (I have a 2 year old so you can’t infer that I’m a 37 year old Handy Manny fan from this).

    Flash…yeah, yeah, can you fell that iPad, huh, can you feel it?! Yes, head over to the Market, search for Flash and tap on install, you are ready to rock…

    This device won’t dissappoint you unless you are going to complain about the viewing angles. That’s the biggeest complaint, and believe me, it isn’t that big of a complaint. Can’t fault the iPad here, Mac got it right with the screen, but not by much.

    If you are even slightly techy, this could be your low-budget toy for the next couple of years.

  15. Fergal Says:

    Bought one of these from ebay USA. I did loads of research before purchasing this unit. As with others I changed the OS as soon as I got it, so easy to do I have done this maybe a dozen times since. My unit gives me around 10 hours and plays pretty much everything I have thrown at it. Great quality except for the viewing angles (who cares really its not on the wall).
    There are loads of different ROMs available on XDA Developers site. This has more grunt than any other tablet I have seen running android.
    Currently I have Honeycomb runni9ng on it and it is fantastic. Unlike the ipad ‘dead’ icon screen, I have live feeds on my main screen, Youtube, Gmail, News, and more. This is a great tablet and I would not swap it for the ipad2. Benchmarks show just how fast this is and it beats all the competition hands down.
    As for price (as this seems to be VERY important to most of the people leaving comments). The unit was brand new in box, and after P&P to Ireland and customs VAT it worked out at £220 which is way below any comparable tablet. The capacitive screen is a joy to use and there are several accessories out there such as stand which gives you another USB hdmi and a network point. All in all a great tablet and as future proof as you can get. Lets not forget flash either Mr Jobs

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE