Jan 24, 2012

Posted by in Featured, Laptops & Tablets, Reviews | 27 Comments

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin Review

The Ainol Novo 7 Paladin is a 7-inch WiFi only tablet from one of the popular tablet manufacturers in China. Being the first Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet in the market, it will surely draw some curious looks. Having a price tag of only Php5,800, it will certainly make a lot of people interested.

Does having the latest Android OS and a can’t-beat-price really make Ainol Novo 7 Paladin a worthy buy? You might want to check our review and draw conclusions for yourself whether this is a tablet you might want to get or not.

Design

The Ainol Novo 7 Paladin has your typical chunky build although I like its thin bezel making the device look more compact. The exterior is made of smooth, hard plastic with a matte finish which is not exactly smudge-proof. You would want to have a case for this because I don’t think it will survive a hard drop.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

Although there are no buttons at the front, the Paladin is full of them on the sides. On the left we have the volume control, the Reset pinhole, a miniUSB port for data and charging, microSD slot and the audio jack.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

On top is the Power/Sleep button, Home and Menu buttons. The latter two are buttons we normally don’t see in today’s tablets but should be handy for Android 4.0 devices whose status bar disappears in some full view modes.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

There’s nothing on its sloped back except the speaker grill/exhaust on the lower left. Ainol didn’t include a camera (rear or front) on the Paladin unlike the older models. I don’t think rear cameras are that critical to tablets anyway.

Design-wise, the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin looks good for a cheap tablet. You won’t get the solid feel but it also won’t scream cheap when people see you using it.

Display and UI

The Novo 7 Paladin has a resolution of 480 x 800 and on a 7-inch screen, this means you can really see the pixels. I would say what’s the point of watching 720p videos with such pixel density if you can’t appreciate the sharpness.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

The display is also not too bright to be usable under bright conditions and viewing angle is a bit limited on this device.

Android 4.0 doesn’t deviate much from Android 3.0 when it comes to UI interface. The main improvement I noticed was that the once persistent status bar now disappears when playing games and watching videos. You can bring it back by swiping your finger up from the bottom of the screen (just like in the BlackBerry PlayBook).

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

ICS on the Paladin is not signed by Google meaning you won’t see the full suite of Google Apps here (no YouTube, Gtalk, Google Maps, etc.). What you will have are a lot (I mean lots) of Chinese apps that you would want to uninstall immediately. At least it comes pre-installed with ES File Explorer which I find really useful.

Performance

The Ainol Novo 7 Paladin is powered by a relatively unknown 1GHz MIPS processor with a 444MHz GPU. For the most part, basic navigation and switching windows is alright, not fast but smooth.

Ran the tablet in Quadrant (which didn’t recognize its processor by the way) and got a score of 829, slightly below the Samsung Galaxy S.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

Contrary to the listed 8GB internal storage, there’s only a total of 7GB according to the Elixir app I installed. 1 GB is for the OS and 6GB acts as the external drive if you didn’t use a microSD. This drive can be accessed in the /flash folder. The RAM in actuality is only at 344MB, not the listed 512MB.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

I also ran with some issues which affects overall performance and I will share it in a different section below.

Multimedia

The Paladin comes with a number of apps for playing videos aside from its native player but for the most part, I was able to play my test files without any problems with just the native player.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

I was able to view a 720p MKV file, a 720p MP4 and your typical AVI movies and TV series. Aside from the display thing which I’m quite picky about, playback was smooth and skipping and scanning wasn’t a problem.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

The tablet comes with Spider-man and Angry Birds as its games. I tried installing my Age of Zombies APK but the tablet won’t install it. So I settled with Spider-man which was quite enjoyable on this tablet. Graphics are smooth except during scene transitions or when there’s a lot of things going on but not to the point that it gets irritating.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

Rendering of websites was a bit slow (tried a number of sites and also compared it to my Android smartphone) and the lack of Flash player (not available in its Market) hampered the browsing experience Android is known for. Other than that, things are displayed as it should.

For those curious about transforming this to an e-Book reader, sad to say I couldn’t find my favorite readers in the market. It also won’t accept my Aldiko APK so I couldn’t test it as an e-Book reader.

Battery life

Ainol claims you can get 6-hours out of this tablet on a single charge. I almost achieved it but realistically, it was just in the 5-hour mark playing Spider-man and watching videos clips.

I also noticed that charging time takes a long time. At first I was charging it via my laptop’s USB so no doubt it’s going to be slow. But when I plugged it to a power outlet using a USB adapter, charging from 0 to 100 took me 6 hours!

Issues

Ok, being the world’s first ICS tablet has its perks but it also comes with issues which we shouldn’t be surprised about. I initially didn’t want to release this review until I get to upgrade its firmware from 4.0.1 to 4.0.3.

However, there’s no official firmware yet and I couldn’t get the unofficial one installed despite spending a lot of time researching about it. Besides, a lot of people are still experiencing problems with the unofficial 4.0.3 firmware.

Anyway, be aware of these issues which you may or may not experience with the Novo 7 Paladin.

  • Spotty WiFi. The connection occasionally drops and I think this contributes to the slow rendering of websites. I also experienced this trying to download from Dropbox or apps from the Market where it just stops in the middle.
  • YouTube. There’s no YouTube app and YouTube from the browser doesn’t work. I think the current firmware still has issues with HTML5.
  • Missing apps in the market. We’re not talking about some measly apps but the popular ones like Adobe Flash player, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Dropbox, and a handful of nice games.
  • Apps not compatible. If you manage to grab hold of APKs or installer files for your favorite apps, there’s no guarantee that it will install. An example would be the e-Book reader Aldiko.

These are big issues which can really cripple an Android device but no worries though. For some people who were able to update their Paladin with the unofficial 4.0.3 firmware, most of these issues went away. Or if you are the geeky-type and are able to root this tablet and install some hacks, you can certainly make the most out of it.

Verdict

Well for Php5,800, you are getting what you’re paying for with the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin. I wouldn’t recommend this for those who are stickler for details, performance and display though.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin

There’s also the bugs which are really a downer but once Ainol released their official firmware update, it will be smooth sailing for this little tablet that could. You would get a portable media player, web browser, gaming device, e-book reader, social networking device all in one decent, nice-looking package for just under Php6k.

Widget City provided us with this review unit and they are running a promo for you PTB readers. Just print this page and show it when you make your purchase to get a folio case and 4GB microSD card for free.

Ainol Novo 7 Paladin Specs:
MIPS-Based XBurst 1.0GHz processor
Vivante GC860 444MH GPU
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
7-inch capacitive touchscreen display (840 x 480 resolution)
8GB internal storage, support for microSD up to 32GB
8GB internal storage, support for microSD up to 32GB
512M RAM
1GB ROM
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
No cameras (front/rear)
4000 mAh battery
Colors: Black / White
Php5,800


  1. Ayun may review na wait basahin ko lang… lol:

  2. Woot good i think nag pass muna ako dito. Yung dalawang version pa nyan Calvin ELF and AURORA ARM na daw pero laggy po ang screen. I think i should wait for Asus MEMO 370T.

  3. How does this compare to CD-R King’s two tablets? Can you review them also?

    • i don’t have CD-R king’s tablets. hehe sorry. and i don’t think i would buy them just to review. :P

    • JmBalicano says:

      The CDR-King tablets are either Froyo or Gingerbread anyway. I think there’s still a lot of compatibility issues with apps because they don’t support ICS yet. Was there a compatibility mode, sir Calvin? My Coby tablet had one and its able to play the older apps.

      I might wait on that Asus Memo tab, unless they’re able to fix a lot of the bugginess of the Paladin.

      • i think it has something to do with the processor which is not ARMM-based and apps are not compatible with it. it’s not that i can’t play or run the apps, it simply won’t install them in the first place.

      • JmBalicano says:

        Ouch.. Software issues can quickly be fixed. Hardware, not so much. At least Widget City’s going to offer a different tablet from Ainol’s stable that’s supposed to have a more supported processor. It won’t be as cheap though.

    • Wow.. may tablet pala ang CD-R king haha!

  4. StratoSpHere says:

    I’d rather go with a Coby device rather than this. I heard Coby is coming up with new tablets.

  5. i don’t understand what’s the big deal with ICS. It’s like everybody wants to upgrade to it when in fact ok pa naman gingerbread. i mean ok yung mga new features ng ICS pero hindi rin naman ganun ka-importante. my 2 cents only.

  6. affordable says:

    ..(awaiting 4.0.3 firmware release).. can wait for now (1-2 weeks though)

    Wishing that FB, Flash and YouTube will be accessible on this device

  7. tama si griswald. gingerbread already works great……

  8. dvancleef says:

    I did manage to get the unofficial 4.0.3 firmware to apply cleanly.

    I think most of the people that were having problems were trying to install from CWM recovery instead of stock. People that have CWM installed need to reflash official ainol recovery using inand_flash_image before attempting to flash the OS image.

  9. I did a writeup of procedure to install 4.0.3, CWM and root all at one go including links for all the images needed:

    http://www.aeug.org/drupal/node/20

    • hi dvancleef, looks good – thanks!

      My Paladin is in the mail and coming my way.

      As I’m somewhat unfamiliar with rooting, flashing and such: are your instructions valid for a brand-new, out-of-the-box device?

      Can I simply start from bullet 3 of your procedure (“Copy the update_knight_4.0.3.zip image…”) and that’s all I need to do?

      Like I said, a noob I am when it comes to these issues…but the device doesn’t have to be rooted before the procedure or anything? Just making sure…

      One more thing: would this upgrade expand the Android Market offering any (as it’s supposed to be quite limited), or is something else needed for that?

      To me, the fact that it’s missing a lot of the market apps is maybe the biggest shortcoming, at least from a pre-ownership p.o.v. :)

      • Sorry for this unnecessary post/question, I have found a lot of new info since posting.

        So my questions are now answered…thanks anyway! :)

  10. I’ve got Paladin Novo 7 and now I know ti is a MIPS processor.

    No flash player works, quite incompatible with important apps of market.

    For me it is a bull shit.

    DO NOT BY MIPS PROCESSORS LIKE AINOLV NOVO 7 PALADIN AND BASIC.

    Somebody want my tablet? I’m selling it.

    Regards,

  11. My new Ainol Novo 7 Paladin tablet just came in and everything in the owners manual and the writing on the tablet is in Chinese. Where can you find the conversion key to move it to English, or do I need to send it back for a replacement. I did find a website that did translate the owners manual to English, but nothing said how or where the buttons are on the tablet. The only thing I can use is Angry Birds, which doesn’t need a translator. Can anyone help me out? Thanks…

  12. Hi, take a look here:

    http://tabletrepublic.com/forum/novo-7-paladin/easy-way-update-4-03-working-wifi-market-etc-673.html

    …the part about changing the language is this:

    “once you get to the launcher screen it will be in chinese,click on the battery icon in the lower right corner and choose the last icon in the pop up window,This will open the settings window,scroll down the settings on the left hand side until you see a key with an A on it,click on it and then click on the first entry in the right hand window,this will open the language settings allowing you to choose language/input method of your choice”

    But don’t know if there’s a manual anywhere in English, most likely not.

  13. Just received my ainol novo 7 paladin yesterday. And it’s worth the price and the wait (because of shipping) hehe. Just download a battery saver app and the tablet can last upto 6-7 hrs.

    My only problem with the tablet is it takes at least 6 hrs to be fully charged. Beside that 10/10 overall. =)

  14. Hey Mr calvin author of this article, guess you have not drop at ainol novo website it says their that firmware update for ainol novo is availble for download,I’m not so sure but its the kind of ICS that is already signed by google for ainol novo(all ainol novo unit)…..anyway just check this website
    http://www.ainol-novo.com/download/
    or
    http://www.ainovo.com/support.html
    that two sites linkss to the upadate instruction of your gadget….

  15. Hello

    I have a problem on my Ainol Novo Paladin or Cherry Mobile Paladin,
    I don’t know what happen touch screen suddenly not working. I already reset system and its still not working, do anyone knows how to repair this problem.

    Please help.

Leave a Reply