*** UPDATE TWO *** April 2012:
Recommend this product?
OK, I got the replacement unit and have been using it for about two weeks now. It seems pretty solid. It did an upgrade to the Android OS and *that* is much better. More responsive than the old unit/OS and nice look and feel, as well.
I have not loaded too many apps on this one yet, so it has not been tested in a loaded-up condition, but so far it has been working much more reliably than the first one. If it keeps this up, I will probably hang on to it. So, I am raising the previously-lowered-to-two-stars rating up to three now. It would be a solid four if this were not a replacement (and refurbished) unit.
*** UPDATE **** March 2012:
Since doing the initial review, I have had some pretty serious issues with basic reliability on this tablet. It would get into a mode where it would not shut down completely, nor would it power up completely. Sometimes, after a few tries, I could break the cycle and use it. It got to be so annoying that I called Vizio customer service. They had me to a "factory reset" and it seemed OK after that, but soon was doing the same thing. They suggested that it was an incompatible app, but after the reset it would do it, even before I loaded a single app (other than what shipped on it). I called them again today and they are sending a replacement unit. So, until that one gets here and I can see if it's reliable, I cannot continue to recommend it. I will update after getting the replacement.
I got interested in tablets after seeing a relative's iPad, but I didn't want to spend that much on one. I started looking at the Samsung Galaxy and Toshiba Thrive models, but they were almost as much. I was in Costco one day and saw that they had the Vizio 8 inch tablet with Android and thought I would give it a try. It cost just a little over half what the ten inch competitors were going for.
I've been using it a couple of weeks now and can say that I really love the thing. First of all, there are a TON of Android apps out there and many are free. Of course, that holds for all Android tablets, but it's still a good reason to buy. Next, I like the compact size and the solid feel of the Vizio. It's got a bright, sharp, and clear display with very good resolution. It also is very responsive to touch and only lags once in a while. And it supports multi-touch, so you can use the "pinch" action (to zoom in and out of photos and web pages).
It comes with a charge adapter that works with the USB cable. I haven't timed the battery life, but would estimate it at eight hours or so. It's enough to get you through the day, but I do wish it would go a bit longer. Still, given that it's so compact, it's not bad. It also charges pretty slowly, so I find it best to put it on the charger at night so it is fresh the next morning.
The tablet has built-in WiFi and it's easy to find a hot spot in most locations. It remembers WiFi AP's that you've connected to and if you return to a remembered one, it will re-connect automatically. WiFi does tend to drain the battery faster, but you need it for most apps. It also has GPS and there are some built-in apps for driving navigation. I haven't tried them yet (have a stand-alone GPS), but they look like they work pretty slick.
One thing that I do wish it had is a camera on the back side. The camera on this unit faces you as you are holding it, which is good for video chat apps, but it makes regular picture-taking a bit of a challenge. Other than that, I pretty much am happy with this unit. I have had it lock up once or twice, but believe that's due to the apps I am running. I have removed a couple that seemed to be problematic. The User's Guide is very limited, yet it has a built-in more complete User Manual. I had a hard time finding info on a few topics (like plugging in the SD card; it's in a little slot on the side that looks like another set of volume knobs), but it works for most things you'll wonder about.
The built-in speakers are adequate, but for listening to streaming (works GREAT with Pandora) or saved music, you'll want to plug in some headphones. And it sounds great through those.
If you're thinking of getting an Android tablet and don't have to have a larger model, this one is worth taking a look at.
Amount Paid (US$): 285
Recommended for: Gadget Lovers - Trendy and Hip