Call it what you will: a 22-inch Android tablet or an ARM-based desktop. Whatever nomenclature you prefer, this much is true: the Viewsonic VCD22 is an odd bird. Though it looks like just another all-in-one desktop, it packs a TI OMAP processor and runs Android 4.0, making it one of the largest mother-loving slates we’ve ever seen. With a starting price of $479, Gigabyte is hoping budget-minded families will snap it up, or maybe schools looking for a simple system to host interactive lessons for the kiddies. Is this ultimately a better option for classrooms than that new Chromebox we reviewed this week? We’ll save that debate for another day but for now, we’ve got hands-on photos and video of this guy in action. Meet us past the break for a closer look.
Where else would we begin this hands-on but with that 22-inch display? The resolution is 1920 x 1080, which is about what you’d expect on a machine this size, and with a price this low. Though it doesn’t have IPS to improve the viewing angles, we actually had no problem following along with an onscreen demonstration while standing a few feet away, and off to the side. That bodes well for schools that are thinking of installing these in classrooms.
Lying underneath that slim frame is an ARM processor — not exactly what you’d expect to find inside an all-in-one desktop. That chip is part of TI’s dual-core OMAP 4000 series, and it’s helped by 1GB of RAM. As modest as those specs sound, they’re plenty sufficient for powering Ice Cream Sandwich, so far as we can tell. The screen responded very smoothly to our various taps and swipes, and the machine was quick to launch and minimize apps.
From a software standpoint, that is Android 4.0, as we mentioned, though it’s still not clear to what extent Gigabyte is going to customize the snot out of it. The demo unit we saw had lots of widgets peppering the home screen, including some tailored toward kids and families. Still, Android fans will appreciate that the core OS itself has remained unchanged; it’s just more cluttered than your Nexus handset. A company rep also told us that Gigabyte plans on bundling the machine with educational apps such as audio story books, but that might well vary depending on whether the system is being sold to schools or individual consumers.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.