[review] 7-inch android 4.0 tablet for under php 6,000

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin Review

A 7-inch Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet for under Php6,000 sounds too good to be true by the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin has landed and is now the cheapest Android ICS tablet in the market.

Ainol is almost an unheard of tablet brand in the Philippines but in some markets (like China), they’re doing really well by introducing affordable yet first-to-market devices. The Novo 7 Paladin is one of them, probably the first and only Android ICS tablet in the local market right now.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich provides a strong brand-influence on a product it is installed on and considering there are very few devices in the market that runs on ICS (Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the older Google Nexus S), having one of the very first ICS tablets out certainly gets a lot of attention.

The Novo 7 Paladin looks pretty plain and simple, comes in a 7-inch form factor with a matte-black finish all over. The device is made up plastic yet still feels solid and firm, even has that attention to detail which doesn’t make it look like a cheap knock-off.

The Paladin isn’t that thin (12mm) but not much thicker than an iPhone 4 either. At the leftmost corner of the topside sits the Power button. Beside that is a physical Back button and the Menu Button (a strange addition to an ICS tablet considering it’s supposed to work without any physical buttons at all).

On the left side is where the volume control is situated along with the mini-USB port for data and charging, a microSD card slot and a pinhole for the mic and another one for the Reset button. The 3.5mm audio jack is also there. There no option for a 3G SIM slot, no front and rear cameras as well as GPS.

So I got so curious as to what type of hardware is inside the Novo 7 Paladin that it can handle Android ICS out of the box.

Ainol Tab Novo 7 Paladin specs:
7-inch capacitive display @ 800×480 pixels
Ingenic JZ4770 Xburst 1GHz
Vivante GC860 GPU
512M RAM
8GB internal storage
up to 16GB via microSD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Li-Ion 4000mAh battery
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Surprisingly, the specs aren’t that impressive yet ICS runs on the tablet nicely — a 1GHz processor and a measly 512MB RAM (just 335MB to be exact). That’s almost within the vicinity of the specs of the Samsung Galaxy S which will not be getting ICS according to Samsung (TouchWiz is said to be the culprit on that one).

The screen of the tablet isn’t one of the best we’ve seen — a typical TFT display with a low resolution of just 800×480 pixels. At just 160 pixels per inch, you will definitely see the individual pixels on the screen. The display is bright but not very crisp. You’re looking at a similar screen quality as the ones used in the Archos and Arnova tablets.

Android 4.0 ICS runs fairly smooth on the Novo 7 Paladin. There’s not much noticeable lags while the CPU and GPU offers enough power to run the apps and games just fine. Either ICS isn’t really that heavy on the hardware or it even provides some sort of bump in the performance, efficiency and over-all user-experience of the device.

Was able to play Spider-Man HD decently although some of the animations seemed a bit choppy at times. I also noticed some tearing in the graphics but nothing that would ruin the game experience. Ainol also claims the tablet can play 1080p full HD videos and while that is true, the playback isn’t very smooth (didn’t have any problem watching 720p videos though).

We’ve already provided you with a comprehensive walkthrough of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich before but feel free to read over that article again here. In hindsight, has this tablet ran on an Android 2.3 Gingerbread, I would not have been as impressed.

While the Nova 7 Paladin promises up to 6 hours of movie playback on a single full charge, I only notice around 5 hours or so. It lasts a bit longer, around 2 hours more, when just connecting to the web via WiFi.

And since the screen resolution is a bit low, videos don’t look as good on its screen. The audio speaker is also found at the back and doesn’t offer enough volume if you want to watch movies or TV series on the tablet (prepare to have an earphone with you).

Over-all, battery life is decent but not that great when you compare it with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus or the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Quadrant Standard benchmark gave the Novo 7 Paladin a score of only 800, just a few points below the Galaxy S which.

What’s a bit confusing with the Ainol tablet is that it’s packaged for the Chinese market so you’ll have to deal with the tons of apps in Chinese (you’ll probably end up deleting all of them). Android Market is not also available but there’s a native Android app market pre-installed called GoMarket (claims to be the biggest 3rd-party Android software market in China).

The Ainol Nova 7 Paladin sells for about Php5,800 in online stores like WidgetCity. It’s a decent tablet that offers the most affordable Android Ice Cream Sandwich to folks looking for an entry-level tablet.

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