ViewSonic VSD220 review

The big trend this year is for smaller tablets, like the iPad mini, Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire. All floating between the 7-8in mark.

How big is the screen on your tablet? 7? 10in? How about 22 inches. That's a bit big to get in your pocket or bag, but well on the way to becoming a bedroom, study or home office base station, with all the same functions as an Android mobile device provides.

ViewSonic is the first manufacturer to launch an accredited Google Mobile Services (GMS) all-in-one (AIO) personal computer (PC). More simply known as the ViewSonic VSD220.

With a 22in screen on the diagonal, this may not be a tablet in the conventional sense, but it does have just about all the features of a typical Android slate, right down to the gesture sensitive touchscreen. And it can also show HD movies at their full 1920 x 1080 native resolution. 

It does this very well, assuming your video source is Android compatible. Currently, Lovefilm doesn’t support Android, though Netflix appears to have no such trouble.

The ViewSonic VSD220 comes well equipped, with three USB 2.0 sockets, micro HDMI and 10/100 ethernet, as well as 802.11n and Bluetooth wireless connections. 

Wireless setup is painless and the device connects via your router to the services you’re likely to need. There’s 1GB of working memory, 8GB of storage and a microSD card slot for expansion. 

The 1.3Mpixel camera is fine for video conferencing though, of course, there’s no rear camera, as this is a desktop machine. Power is provided by a small black block power supply. It’s so small, it’s a shame it couldn’t have been built into the case.

It runs Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the desktop is clean and easy to navigate. Things you would expect, like Adobe Reader, Chrome, Google Maps and Blogger are pre-installed. For web browsing, email, social networking and media playback, it’s great – though you might want bigger, better speakers. 

A 60-day trial of Mobi Office Suite Professional is provided and this is a clean-cut, though fairly basic Word, Excel and PowerPoint workalike. You can download other Android apps as you need them from the Play store.

The touchscreen is reasonably easy to use. Scrolling pages on the big screen feels as if it should take more effort but, of course, it doesn’t. It does occasionally miss your gestures, though, and the click-sound feedback on the on-screen keyboard only seems to kick in two or three characters into typing, which is odd.

From an ergonomic standpoint, the ViewSonic VSD220 doesn’t work as well as a smaller tablet. In its default position, it’s angled up at around 45 degrees to the desktop, which is fine for standing at the desk to check your email or Facebook. But it isn’t ideal for typing. The on-screen keyboard is huge and holding up your arms whilst moving your fingers to the keys soon starts to hurt.

You can lay the ViewSonic VSD220 down at a shallow angle and the rear support is spring-loaded to make this easy. Then, however the poor vertical visibility of the LCD comes into play and the screen colours start to veer off from normal.

It’s not like a tablet which you can hold in one hand and operate with the other at exactly the angle that feels comfortable. Your best bet, for more than the occasional tweet, is to plug-in a USB keyboard and mouse.

OUR VERDICT

If you’re willing to abandon Windows or Mac OS and conduct your day-to-day work on a mega-size Android tablet, the ViewSonic VSD220 is a classy take on what may well be a new desktop genre. If you expect to work on it with more than occasional typing, though, we’d strongly suggest a separate keyboard and mouse, or your arms will really ache.

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