I wanted to give an instant review of the Viewsonic G-Tab as soon as I unboxed it for Christmas this past year, but decided to hold off until I had a little more “soak” time with the unit. So far, things look pretty good… but there are some drawbacks to this 10.1″ Android tablet. Let’s discusss:
When I saw this tablet advertised in a newspaper flyer for Sears, I was floored. $349 dollars for what looks to be a spitting image of the iPad – except this one runs Android 2.2 – Google’s latest release of their Android operating system. The specs were amazing at first read: dual core processor, lots of built-in storage, and a very pretty looking user interface that looks nothing like my Android phone’s does. I felt that the time was right to jump into the tablet craze and try this thing out, and I come away from my experience with mixed feelings about this device.
First, let’s talk about what you will need in order to take full advantage of this device: a semi-technical background with a willingness to use un-released and beta software from a community of developers working with the G-Tab, and lots of patience. The stock interface provided by Viewsonic is missing the BIGGEST reason to have Android – the Market. Without the Android Market, you are limited to whatever is installed on the device. Luckily for some, Viewsonic has created it’s own version of the Android Market – called the “G Market”, and is available as a stock app for the tablet… but the amount of applications you can download is pitiful in comparison to the real deal.
So, how do we overcome this problem with the G-Tab? Well, we root it of course! There are several “root” user applications (root is a Linux term for Administrator for the untrained technical wanna-bes out there), and they can easily be downloaded to the G-Tab from the standard web browser application. Once you have root access, head over to XDA-Developers (search for it) and look for the forum on G-Tab development. Here you will find several “custom” ROMs that will load a vanilla version of Android 2.2 onto your unit that includes full Market support, and Adobe Flash capabilities.
If you make it this far in the process with loading a custom ROM to unlock the “real” capabilities of Android 2.2 – you’ve got one serious competitor to the iPad in terms of functionality. Full Flash support, 200k+ applications from the Market, and an almost limitless array of customization options makes this thing scream.
So, who should be buying this tablet for day-to-day use? Techies, gadget fiends, and tinkerers would be my recommendation. The stock Viewsonic experience is almost unusable for the average joe – there are way too many tablets bearing Android on the way this year that will offer a better out of the box experience than this one. If you can’t wait that long, and you want a real powerhouse of a tablet that you can tinker with – this is for you.
* Tegra 2 dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz
* 10.1″ capacative touchscreen
* Android 2.2 operating system
* 13GB of onboard flash storage
* 512MB onboard RAM
* MicroSD slot, mini-USB port, stereo speakers, front facing 1.3MP camera
* Price – I got mine for $349 at Sears
* Stock UI is buggy and lacks Google Apps/Market
* No HDMI output
* USB does not double as a charger
* No rear-facing camera
* LCD screen viewing angles are woeful