The OlivePad-VT100 is currently available only in India, costing around £350, with no word yet of an international release or how much it will cost in the UK or the US. We'll keep you posted.
If you were expecting a big bang to usher in the next era of personal computing devices in India, you probably weren't expecting Olive to come out with India's first 3G enabled tablet. Yes, the OlivePad 3G didn't cause too much of a ripple when it was revealed back in July and I'm guessing it won't exactly cause stampedes when its launched on 1 October. However, to be fair to the OlivePad-VT100, it's a solid product that sets its targets high with good hardware and features. Let's see how it did in our tests.
Tested in the PCWorld.in Labs
The OlivePad-VT100 has a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 800x400. We got a pre-production model for review from Olive and the tablet was running Android 2.1. Olive told us that at launch, this would be updated to Android 2.2.
The Olive also has a 3Mp camera and a VGA front-facing camera. It comes with 512MB of internal memory and Olive has stated that a 16GB microSD will be a part of the packaging bundle.
Connectivity is well taken care of by the OlivePad-VT100 and it supports Wi-Fi and GPS. You can also put in your SIM card and use 3G connectivity (once it becomes available) and the use the Olive as a regular smartphone.
OlivePad-VT100: Android 2.1 Now; 2.2 Later
The OlivePad-VT100 uses Android 2.1 as its OS and that means access to both Google Mobile Services and the Android Market. All the regular Google Mobile Services work flawlessly on the tablet, which means that you can check your Gmail account, watch YouTube videos through the YouTube app, directly search your phone or the Web using the Google toolbar, sync your contacts and calendar on the tablet with their online counterparts or just plan your next trip using Google Maps easily and with minimum fuss.
OlivePad-VT100: Applications Galore
The same can be said about installing and executing apps from the Android Market, it feels natural and works fine. However, the more apps we installed, small issues began cropping up. The first issue was something we were anticipating. Due to the OlivePad-VT100's 7-inch display, there were some apps that were only occupying about 1/3rd of the display. Also, very few of these apps actually aligned themselves to the centre of the screen and were usually hanging around at one of the top corners. Subsequently, there were some issues with the onscreen control buttons in some apps not being placed accurately onscreen.
Reading e-books and comics on the OlivePad-VT100 is a pretty good experience. We used the pre-installed Aldiko book reader (also downloadable from the Android Market) and the free Android Comic Viewer (ACV) app to test out the OlivePad-VT100. The display is suited for reading e-books and comics and there are plenty of apps that let you do so easily and in style.
If you also want to engage in some office work on the OlivePad-VT100, then it lets you do that through the pre-installed Documents to Go app that lets you view and edit Word docs, Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations and also read your PDF documents.
OlivePad-VT100: Design & Usability
The OlivePad-VT100 doesn't take the road less travelled in terms of design. It is solidly built and looks like a big slab of glass and plastic. Both the back and front are flat and the only hint of curves that exist are on the corners. The entire tablet is encased by a metal rim which adds to the tough build quality. While, we don't always look for flashiness in design and can certainly appreciate simplicity, the OlivePad's design is little too plain. Also, for a tablet of its size, the OlivePad feels heavy and owing to its design, it's a little difficult to hold in one hand although it certainly is small enough to fit in one.
The OlivePad-VT100's 7-inch display might not be as large as the Apple iPad's, but it's still large enough to not warrant any complaints. However, the display quality is far from perfect and honestly, at 7 inches, I was expecting the screen to be able to display at a higher resolution (after all, the iPad's 10-inch display manages to output an impressive 1024x768). Also, the display looks dull and there is a strange pinkish tint that appears whenever the color white takes over the screen (for instance, when reading an e-book or Word document). The display also all but disappears under sunlight which is a pity.
The OlivePad-VT100 offers virtual QWERTY keyboards both in landscape and portrait modes but its really difficult to use both versions. In landscape mode, the keyboard takes up half of the screen and is made up of huge keys making it tough to type using two thumbs as it takes effort to reach the keys in the centre of the keyboard with either thumb. In portrait mode, for same strange reason, the keyboard still takes up a considerable amount of space but the keys themselves turn into narrow buttons that uselessly take up more vertical space than the necessary horizontal space. As a result, although it feels natural to type using thumbs in this mode, accuracy is greatly hampered thanks to the narrow keys.
OlivePad-VT100: Touch UI is not all that
The OlivePad-VT100 might also have one of the poorest capacitive displays in the market as it really doesn't engender accuracy and is often as difficult to use with fingers as a resistive display. At first we thought maybe we just weren't used to using a touch UI on such a large screen but soon enough we realized that the touch UI itself needed plenty of work to become good. Sure, it's usable but would you really want to pay as much as Olive is asking you to and settle for just a “usable” UI?
The unresponsive UI is further accentuated by the device's sluggish operation. Fortunately, the sluggishness isn't as in-your-face as the touch UI's drawbacks but it's still something worth mentioning. Another positive point is that multi-tasking doesn't seem to make the device any slower and if you are used to the device's speed, then you won't have to suffer when running multiple apps.
OlivePad-VT100: Browsing, Multimedia, Gaming Etc.
We have always been fans of the default Android web browser and its great pleasure to browse the internet using the Android browser on the large 7-inch display. The OlivePad-VT100 lets you use multi-touch input to zoom as well as using the standard zoom buttons. The downside again surfaces in the form of the touch accuracy. We often ended up tapping on the wrong links and had to really zoom into pages to do so perfectly.
OlivePad-VT100: Music & Video
A 7-inch display seems perfect for portable video viewing and we're glad to say that you can actually watch entire movies comfortably on the OlivePad-VT100's display. The device itself supports only MP4 and H.264 videos and you will have to use an external media converter for videos of other formats. Music playback is also decent and it's good that you can use your own earphones with the device. However, we hardly think the OlivePad (thanks to its size) will replace your MP3 players or mobile phones as something that takes care of your needs for music on the move.
The OlivePad, surprisingly, has good graphical capabilities. We ran the Neocore Android graphics benchmark test on the OlivePad-VT100 and it gave me an average fps score of 37. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S scored about 56 fps.
The OlivePad's 3Mp camera is just about okay but it won't replace your digital camera (or even a 5MP camera phone) for sure. Images are colorful (if oversaturated) with little noise but less details too. The camera can record VGA videos as well.
Finally, the OlivePad-VT100 has a battery rated at 3240mAH but it ran out pretty quickly with the Wi-Fi on and a game running for more than 45 minutes. The OlivePad also took a considerable amount time to charge over USB.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>