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My new tablet – the Viewsonic Viewpad 100

Due to my problems with Pandigital, I found myself without a tablet but still wanting to use one. But since I’m too cheap to buy one, I dug my Viewsonic Viewpad 100 out from under the pile of junk that is my desk.

This isn’t one of the new Viewpads; there was one that was briefly called the Viewpad 100 but the name was changed. No, my Viewpad is close to 6 years old.

Some time back Viewsonic had a line of wireless monitors. The Viewpad 100 was the first model in a line of about a dozen (you can find them on Ebay, if you like). My Viewpad 100 has a 10″ LCD screen, and runs on a 206MHz CPU with a bare minimum of internal storage, a CF card slot, PC card slot, USB Host, but no Wifi. Battery life is around 5 hourse, and the touch screen only likes styluses, not fingertips.

It’s running Windows CE 3.0, and that’s a good thing. This might be an ancient OS, but this tablet is still more capable as an ereader than almost any Android tablet. Actually the fact the Viewpad 100 is running a version of Windows is a plus, no matter how old it is. It behaves like Windows so I didn’t have to relearn anything.

Some time back I did a survey of PDF apps for Android. None of the free ones were very good, not even Adobe’s.But with the Viewpad 100 I can use Adobe Reader v2.0, which has more features than does Adobe Reader 9 on Android. I can basically do everything that Adobe Reader does on a PC on my Viewpad 100.

As for ebooks, I’ve started using an old version of Mobipocket Reader (think of it as the granddaddy of the Kindle apps). This app falls short against Aldiko, but ti’s better than any of the other free reading apps. In fact, it can do one thing that is an absolute necessity on large screens: it can show the text in 2 columns. I love that.

Click on the picture at right to see an example. I can add other formats like MSReader and eReader, but for me PDF and Mobipocket are the 2 I need most.

And then there’s the other software (which is far more than I can cover here). The Viewpad 100 ships with Pocket Office, which means I have a what’s pretty close to clone of Word 98. If I plug in a keyboard I can type out a full paper and save it in any number of formats. You can’t do that with Android. Format support is limited, and keyboard support is incomplete. If I wanted, I could also buy a copy of Softmaker, and then I’d have the equivalent of MS Word 2010 with all the features and format support. Note that most Android office apps don’t have the format support you’d expect from MS Word.

There are a number of other reasons I like the Viewpad 100, but the main point I want to make with this post is to say that old doesn’t mean useless. Also, Android isn’t as great as some claim; the apps don’t amount to much when compared to older OSes.

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Mike Cane February 17, 2011 um 8:01 am

>>>206MHz CPU

OK, so now there is *finally* someone out there with an LCD device that is weaker than my 400MHz LifeDrive. I feel better now.

Nate the great February 17, 2011 um 8:19 am

I bet I can still do better video.

Scott_T February 17, 2011 um 9:02 am

No wifi?? You might as well use a book!

Nate the great February 17, 2011 um 9:03 am

I can add Wifi, but it’s lack isn’t all that important to an e-reader. I have a bunch of e-readers that don’t have Wifi.

Scott_T February 17, 2011 um 3:04 pm

I get too easily distracted if I have internet and I dont get much reading done.

fjtorres February 17, 2011 um 9:03 am

Try the Softmaker Office for Win 3.0 for a full Office 2003-equivalent.

There are a couple of epub-compatible reader apps, too.

The main problem with WinCE isn’t the OS–it is easily the most robust and flexible on mobille devices–it is that MS has been so fixated on its use in embedded system and vertical markets that they’ve neglected to promote it to gadget makers for consumer use. That vaccum is what opened the door for both iOS and Android, especially the latter.

Nate the great February 17, 2011 um 9:05 am

I think I mentioned Softmaker. I agree, it’s very good.

And the latest version supports DOCX, too.

fjtorres February 17, 2011 um 10:16 am

So you did. Sorry.
I’ve gotten good use out of Softmaker on my vintage IBM Z50 and I’m looking forward to their android port.

Anton Gully February 17, 2011 um 9:20 am

What’s your battery life like?

I do like the idea of hauling that lump out in the middle of a train. Show all those people playing with their phones and iPads.

calvin February 18, 2011 um 2:43 am

Great review! 🙂

I used WinCE and WinMobile PocketPC’s with MobiPocket Reader for years and I liked reading on every of them.

But the best of your review was the screenshot! You are reading one of my favourite books and authors 😀 Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Saga!!!

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