ViewSonic gTablet Review, Begging To Be Rooted

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So, why haven't we seen more 10-inch or larger Android tablets to compete with the iPad?  That's a question we've been asking and we're sure many of you have the been wondering about the situation as well.  The primary reason is that Google's tablet-targeted operating system isn't here just yet.  The latest version, Android 2.2, which is installed on most 7-inch and smaller slates like Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak, is Google's smartphone OS.  Honeycomb is the OS that Google is slating for tablets (pun intended) and all the hype manufacturers can muster won't push the release earlier than when Google says it's ready.  Though it does appear that at least one manufacturer may have the inside track

Regardless, a few manufacturers have forged on and released 10-inch Android tablets regardless of Google's hamstringing of the OS, by limiting Android Marketplace functionality on any device larger than 7-inches.  It's a hard line to walk without Google's blessing but ViewSonic has stepped out with their 10-inch gTablet and we've spent some quality time with it. The gTablet is driven by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processor, comes equipped with 512MB of RAM, 16GB of Flash storage and a myriad of expansion options.  We'll first give you a hands-on demo of the device and then break down the features and performance of it, to help complete the picture.


So, that's the out of the box experience currently with the gTablet, let's look at the specifics, build quality and then we'll see how the hardware stacks up performance-wise.
ViewSonic gTablet Specifications
Android 2.2-Driven Portability
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo) Operating System
  • Tap-n-Tap User Interface
  • 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Processor, Dual-Core ARM 9
  • Front 1.3MP VGA Camera
  • 16GB of ROM, 512 MB RAM
  • Wi-fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR
  • 1024×660 TFT LCD
  • Capacitive Multi-Touch
  • 3650mAh Lithium Polymer Battery
  • 8 - 10hr battery life
  • USB 2.0 (slave), Mini USB (host), and Micro SD Slot - Capacity Up To 32GB
  • 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • Dock for HDMI/Headphone/USB (optional)
  • G-Sensor, E-Compass and Ambient Light Sensor
  • 1.55lbs, 10.5" x 6.8" x .54" Thick
 
  • Handango app store, Android Market not available
  • Pre-loaded Apps
  • Package Contents:
        * gTablet
        * USB cable
        * Power adapter
        * Cleaning cloth
        * ESD cover
        * Warranty information
        * User guide and quick-start guide


A quick scan of the specifics here can get you pretty excited if you're a tablet fan.  NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chip is a 1GHz dual-core ARM 9-based device with an on-board NVIDIA graphics engine that reportedly not only offers great performance for things like full 1080p HD video playback but also great battery life, 8 - 10 hrs according to ViewSonic.  There's also 16GB of Flash ROM and both mini USB and standard USB ports along with a micro SD card slot for further storage expansion.  The only shortcomings we'd point out here is that another 512MB of RAM might make this well-equipped tablet even speedier and a higher resolution camera might be better for web conferencing.  Let's take a closer look at the gTablet's build quality and software.

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I would have expected a better display from a company who primarily makes Displays....

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I'm not into tablets...yet..But anytime Dave does a video review , I'm all eyes and ears. This could make a great gift for a special someone if the IPad is out of you budget range or if you prefer Android. After looking at this video , I can say I'm starting to like tablets.

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I find it interesting that tablets have really "Come out" since the Ipads release. I think its funny that people think the Ipad was the first. But there have been windows based tablets out for years. And Android FTW!!!

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@Der Meister

Yep! I still have a Compaq Microsoft Tablet PC sitting on my desk at home!! I still use it from time to time. Microsoft should re launch Tablet PC for Windows 7 without the need for a special pen/stylus. Maybe a Windows Phone 7 tablet with a Tegra 2, coupled with XBox Live, a Windows Phone 7 Tablet of that nature would grab tons market share for Microsoft in my opinion.

At the very least a Windows 7 Tablet with Tegra 2 and XBox Live with Office Mobile 2010.

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ACurry:

@Der Meister

Yep! I still have a Compaq Microsoft Tablet PC sitting on my desk at home!! I still use it from time to time. Microsoft should re launch Tablet PC for Windows 7 without the need for a special pen/stylus. Maybe a Windows Phone 7 tablet with a Tegra 2, coupled with XBox Live, a Windows Phone 7 Tablet of that nature would grab tons market share for Microsoft in my opinion.

At the very least a Windows 7 Tablet with Tegra 2 and XBox Live with Office Mobile 2010.

Hi ACurry.  I like that there's someone else with a bunch of old-tech on his desk, but I really must disagree with anyone recommending Win tablets just on geek principal.  :)  I simply haven't seen one that was worth half the price yet.

You intermixed references to Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 in your post.  I'm not sure which you meant, since they are of course completely different OSes with no app cross-compatiblity.

Assuming you're just talking about Windows Phone 7:  I don't think a tablet with it would grab a lot of market share since it's not really catching on even on phones.  It hasn't been mentioned much, but even Windows Mobile (their old phone OS) outsold Windows Phone 7 (despite the MS buy one get one free deal) this past quarter... and MS ended up losing 3.1% market share.  In the end, all WinPho7 gets you is fewer available apps, when compared to an iPad or Android tablet.

http://blogs.computerworld.com/17727/new_sales_figures_show_windows_phone_7_sales_go_from_bad_to_worse  

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/1/prweb8101410.htm

Also, Steve Ballmer has said that Windows Phone 7 is dead the second Windows 8 comes out.  So, I wouldn't want to invest much in apps for it.

If you were talking about the actual and confusingly similarly named "Windows 7" - that one won't run on Tegra since it's an ARM CPU.  The Intel CPUs get between 1/2 to 1/3rd the battery life, so that pretty much kneecaps it there - even if the Win7 interface wasn't geared to mouse/keyboard over touch.  Sure, an Intel based tablet would be able to run some desktop apps, but anything that's not a 3D game is going to have a similar if not better app for free on the other platforms, and desktop games won't run anywhere near full speed on the Intel tablets due to the miserly video chipsets.

Just out of curiosity, what would you (to everyone, not just ACurry) do with a Windows tablet that you can't do with a Meego, Android, iPad, etc.?  I'm genuinely curious if there's some aspect I'm overlooking.

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Being an owner of this tablet for a few months, I can say it is an awesome piece of hardware! With that said, it is an awesome piece of hardware after visiting the xda developers website and loading a custom rom.  Of the 3 current (Jan 2011) roms, Vegan seems to be the best in my opinion. Sadly the custom rom eradicated the beauty of the GUI Tap n Tap interface, however the absence of the sluggish operation of Tap n Tap is an easy thing to live with.

The out of the box experience of this tablet will likely make you desire a refund. DO NOT RETURN IT! You'd be missing out on a stellar mobile experience. All of the issues, (horrible performance, force close problems, memory errors and etc.) are a thing of the past. If you are capable of following simple easy technical instructions after downloading the official Viewsonic updated rom (Dec 2010) or as I said above, downloading one of the custom roms, you'll now find this tablet hard to put down. You'll start thinking of reasons to use it. In short you'll love it.

On the xda developers website as well as other noteworthy Android forums you'll also find a "fix" to give you the official Android Market instead of the "G-Market". Viewsonic is beginning to embrace the xda developers website forums. Their VP of marketing has posted in the forums for this device, on the Viewsonic support page for the G-Tablet it mentions xda developers forums.

If you buy this tablet you will be very pleased; people are beginning to call the Viewsonic G-Tablet, the poor man's ($249.99 - $379.99) iPad. Personally as an owner of 3 tablet devices (iPad, Viewsonic G-Tablet) and a Archos IT 5), the G-Tablet is my favorite tablet. Apps that are optimized for dual core are just beginning to appear (Dungeon Defenders, and it seems Sears and Office Depot are the only sellers of this tablet currently.

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I dont know Dave... might be an excellent device.... but tablets... i still dont see em... perhaps my wallets speaking.... but once the fad dies down... then we'll look upon these days and say.... Aha! we were idiots... photo-projection is totally the way to go! hahah

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You guys don't update your scores very often it seems. Your scores for Linpack for the EVO and the Streak are clearly using the older version of the program, whereas everything else is using the newer version (2.1 roms don't need the new version.)

It kinda makes your review look silly.... and EVO 4G is, at best, as fast as the Galaxy Tab in cpu speed and is nowhere close to the G-Tablet.

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