Olive is still building its name in the Indian technology market although it’s been here for awhile now. They first brought in a series of mobile phones which didn’t really bring anything new to the table, except for their rather innovative FrvrOn mobile that uses an AA battery as a backup. From there they progressed to the netbook arena and made quite a splash with their 3G supported X107H Zipbook. Olive has recently taken things to the next level with the announcement of their very first Android powered 3.5 supported tablet/slate device in India. Prototypes of other such devices have been making themselves known for a long time now but we have yet to see one that is ready to hit the shelves. Even Apple’s iPad has yet to make its official entry into the country. Olive says theirs is ready, willing and able.

Since what we’re dealing with here is a large mobile phone slash portable computing device, that’s how we decided to test it. So here’s a closer look at the OlivePad.

Form Factor
Equipped with a 7-inch widescreen touch sensitive display (capacitive) the OlivePad looks comfortable to use. It’s a tad on the heavy side but not heavy enough that it feels awkward to hold in one hand and navigate with the other. It’s a lot smaller than the iPad obviously. The display sports an 800 x 480 pixel resolution with 65K colors which doesn’t really make it the ‘sharpest’ display in the shed, nevertheless viewing from any angle is comfortable. It also supports multi touch. A set of touch sensitive keys are also available. It’s quite a slim device at just 11.5mm in depth and can very easy slip comfortably into most rear pockets to be toted around. We’re not recommending this as a primary mode of transportation of course.

A set of volume/zoom keys as well as the microSD and SIM (GSM or WCDMA supported) card slots are located on the top with stereo speakers on either side of the device. Just below the left speaker is a screen lock/power button. A standard 3.5mm handsfree socket is located at the bottom right beside the mini USB (2.0) port that doubles up for a charging port.

A 3MP (auto focus) camera is placed dead centre at the rear of the device. This could be a potential issue as the glass covering the lens could get scratched every time the Pad is placed on any hard surface. Image quality would of course get affected to an extent. A secondary front facing VGA camera for video calls is located in one corner near the display. One major drawback is that it has just 512MB of internal storage, but Olive will be including a 16GB microSD card with the package.

It’s not as classy or refined in terms of looks as the iPad but it’s not altogether an eyesore either. It’s sleek enough to be easy to use and that’s the point.

Features and Performance

The OlivePad is just a very large Android Mobile, just like the iPad is essentially a large iPod Touch. It comes preloaded with Android 2.1 (no word on a Froyo update). There is absolutely no difference in functionality between this and any high-end Android mobile phone. From features to settings and navigation it’s the same. It offer widgets (for apps that have them) to be dropped onto the multiple desktops as well as social networking integration with your phone book. The UI can be customized just like you would any Android phone. Apps, games, UI add-ons, social networking applications etc. can be downloaded and applied quite easily via the Android Market. Olive has also incorporated a customized UI into the Pad so viewing media, emails, messages etc. is a little more streamlined and definitely better looking.

It’s equipped with a Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset with a 600MHz processor. Which could explain why the UI was just relatively smooth but quite buggy in a few instances – the accelerometer required that the entire handset be shaken into submission before the screen would switch orientation for using the keypad or while accessing web pages. Pinch-zooming was not as fluid as we’d hoped. On the other hand, this is just a prototype for testing so we could expect the actual device to be a lot smoother (fingers crossed). Multiple keypad options can be accessed by simply flicking the onscreen keypad to the left or right – QWERTY, Half-QWERTY and Alphanumeric. Thanks to the large screen, typing is very comfortable and after a couple of seconds your fingers will be flying across the display. All the goodies that Android 2.1 brings to the table are available so you’ll want for almost nothing. What you don’t see you can download off the Market.

HTC’s Sense UI would have been brilliant on this device. Having said that, the default UI with Olive’s additions still gets the job done and as we mentioned, there are plenty of customizable apps.

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