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ViewSonic VSD220 - Turns Android Into A Desktop Computer

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1/10/2013 9:11:36 AM

ViewSonic turns Android into a desktop computer. Does the combination work well?

Imagine this scenario. You have a laptop computer with a monitor attached. It’s a nice, 22-inch monitor. Sometimes you don’t need the full laptop experience, but you do want to use the internet, access some apps or do some gaming. You fancy using Android. With the VSD22O you can do just that. Unhook it from your computer and it becomes a giant Android device, with 21 and a half viewable inches and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of display area at Android’s disposal.

Unhook it from your computer and it becomes a giant Android device, with 21 and a half viewable inches and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of display area at Android’s disposal.

Unhook it from your computer and it becomes a giant Android device, with 21 and a half viewable inches and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels of display area at Android’s disposal.

This sounds like a great idea, and there are some other goodies in the mix. As well as connecting to your computer via HDM1, the VSD22O can connect to the internet either via its Wi-Fi connection or Ethernet. There are two full-sized USB 2.0 ports into which can be plugged a keyboard, mouse, USB stick or hard drive, as well as a micro USB connector.

The screen is touching sensitive, and while it is not capacitive, (it uses optical touch technology instead), it still supports two-finger gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, and we found it nicely responsive to our own fingers.

And there’s an integrated stand so that the VSD22O can sit on a table or desk anywhere you like. The stand can be used to prop the VSD22O at any angle right down to nearly flat on the desk, and it is solid. We worried that we might topple the VSD22O over by prodding at the screen, but it is far too sturdy for that. Some might even say the build is a little on the heavy side, but we think it is fine.

And there’s an integrated stand so that the VSD22O can sit on a table or desk anywhere you like.

And there’s an integrated stand so that the VSD22O can sit on a table or desk anywhere you like.

The dual-core 1GHz processor is as good as many we’ve seen running more traditional Android tablets. It’s not up to the speeds of the very best, but it is perfectly adequate for netbook-style tasks, which is most likely what you’ll be doing here. The Android version isn’t compromised either with full fat Android 4.0, complete with access to the Play store so you can fill the VSD22O with downloaded apps for oversized sessions of Angry Birds.

There’s a reasonably generous 8GB of built-in storage space, and you are entitled to add to this with a micro SD card.

There’s no built-in battery and no GPS, and the screen doesn’t automatically rotate. But these features are hardly important in a device that you are not going to carry with you as you would a more standard tablet or phone. Never mind the size, the VSD22O weighs all of 5.8kg in total. How, exactly, would you carry it around?

So far, it all seems very clever. But sadly we can’t give the VSD22O a complete thumbs up. First off, a physical design issue annoys us. Ethernet, HDMI and micro SD card slots, as well as the main power cable all sit behind a plastic cover on the back of the VSD22O, at its bottom edge, right under the stand. You literally have to tip the VSD22O flat to get to it when you want to plug in a connector. This is awkward when you want to move the device around, and really limits the extent to which you will change the micro SD card in the machine. Given that we enjoyed using the VSD22O to view shots from our camera this was irritating.

Given that we enjoyed using the VSD22O to view shots from our camera this was irritating.

Given that we enjoyed using the VSD22O to view shots from our camera this was irritating.

And then there is a more fundamental concern in the way the VSD22O handles Android. Yes you get full Android 4.0, but it has not been optimized for the screen resolution and apps can leave huge chunks of black, empty space unused, or can stretch out to fill the whole screen.

Neither is ideal, with the latter often leaving images pixelated. Once there are more 1080p and above devices on the market we will start to see apps become optimised for the higher resolution display, and this machine will benefit then. But that will take a while and the solution in the meantime is far from satisfactory.

Neither is ideal, with the latter often leaving images pixelated.

Neither is ideal, with the latter often-leaving images pixelated.

And with that it really feels like the ViewSonic VSD22O is missing out on its true potential. But it is undoubtedly a clever idea, and even if we wouldn’t recommend it for its Android uses alone, if you’re in the market for a new monitor and fancy a handful of extra features thrown in on top then it might be worth a second look.

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