Visually, the ViewPad 7's design is sharp and clean. At the back only a camera and the silver ViewSonic logo disturb the black finish, while the front features four touch controls marked by minimal icons and a front-facing camera that's subtly integrated. It isn't nearly as good at resisting fingerprints as some premium devices either, meaning you'll want to give it regular wipe-downs.
Unlike its bigger ViewPad 10 cousin with its rounded edges, the ViewPad 7 suffers from the same ergonomic problem as the iPhone 4, in that its somewhat sharp edges don't make it the most comfortable device to hold. Also, because of its bulk it feels heavier in the hand than Samsung's Galaxy Tab, though in actual fact it's 5g lighter (375g to the Tab's 380g), slightly thinner (11.5mm compared to the Tab's 12mm) and offers a smaller footprint (179.4 x 110mm compared to the Tab's 190 x 120.5mm).
Further indications of the ViewPad 7's more wallet-friendly aspirations are revealed when we get to specifications. For rather than the 1GHz CPUs regularly found in high-end tablets such as the iPad and Tab (or indeed large smartphones like the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy S), here we're dealing with an ARM11 running at a relatively paltry 600MHz. Thankfully the effects of this aren't felt too often in average use and productivity. However, fire up a more intensive game and you'll soon notice the difference. More damningly, though version 2.2 of Android natively supports Flash, the CPU just can't cope and even 720p HD video will play like a slideshow. So if these are important to you, this is not the tablet you're looking for.
It's a relief to find that further specs are more robust. There's 512MB of memory, and the paltry 512MB of integrated flash storage can be augmented with MicroSD cards of up to 32GB. It has a G-sensor for detecting orientation, an E-compass (in case you feel like taking a voyage of discovery to unknown continents) and even an ambient light sensor to dynamically control the screen's brightness. For wireless connectivity we have Wi-Fi G, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS, quad GSM bands and tri-band UMTS (3G). Video calling is also on the can-do list, with a front-facing VGA camera and a three megapixel model at the back.
Connectivity is decent enough, with all ports and slots integrated into the silver strip surrounding the tablet. Along the top are two well-spaced, flush volume controls and slots for both the MicroSD memory card and a SIM. Both of these are protected by a single semi-flexible, hinged cover.
Along the bottom you'll find a pin-hole reset button and microphone, as well as a headphone jack and mini-USB port for charging and data. Though this doesn't comply with the now almost universal micro-USB standard found on most phones, it's easy to find cables for and is a sight better than the proprietary connector used by Samsung's Galaxy Tab.