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10-inch tablet from Italy targets business customization

Mar 7, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Olivetti announced a 10.1-inch, dual-core Tegra-based tablet equipped with Android 2.2 software. On sale in Italy today for 399 euros ($558) along with a dedicated consumer app store and business-focused Application Warehouse, the OliPad features 16GB flash expandable to 64GB, along with a full plate of wireless and sensor features.

Support for larger screen sizes and resolutions is one of the hallmarks of the 3.0 "Honeycomb" version of Android, so most 10-inch tablets announced so far are shipping with the release. Meanwhile, new seven-inch tablets like the HTC Flyer  continue to launch primarily with Android 2.x.

Yet, with Olivetti aiming its 10-inch OliPad primarily at Italian business and government institutions, the company has apparently decided that a full slate of compatible Android 2.2 ("Froyo") apps is more important than offering Honeycomb's UI, multitasking, and screen enhancements.

Olivetti OliPad

(Click to enlarge)

Indeed, the venerable business equipment manufacturer is offering the OliPad with a dedicated App Shop as well as a Application Warehouse. The latter is aimed at Olivetti dealers, and is defined as a "virtual storehouse of configurable and customizable software applications designed by Olivetti specifically for business and government."

The company does not list the number of apps available on either site, but presumably there will be more than would otherwise be currently available with Honeycomb (see farther below for more on the Application Warehouse).

Two more view of OliPad on its stand
(Click on either to enlarge)

Despite its Froyo underpinnings, the OliPad would certainly capable of running Honeycomb, offering the same Nvidia Tegra 2 found on the currently shipping Motorola Xoom and most other Honeycomb tablets to date. The company made no mention of future upgrade plans to Honeycomb, however.

The 1080p ready Tegra 2, which features dual ARM Cortex-A9 cores clocked to 1GHz, is said to be backed up here with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 16GB of flash storage. The device is also said to include a n SD slot that accepts up to 64GB.

The 10 inch capacitive, multitouch display offers 1024 x 600 resolution, rather than the 1280 x 800 pixels available on most of the 10.1-inch Honeycomb tablets. This choice was perhaps intended to make it easier to offer more Froyo apps optimized for the large display.

The OliPad supplies 3G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity, along with a SIM card slot, says Olivetti. The tablet is said to feature both a USB 2.0 host port and a mini-USB port.

Additional features include a 1.3-megapixel webcam, single-Watt speakers, microphone, headphone port, a G-sensor, and a light sensor, says the company. To get HDMI out, it appears that one needs to purchase the docking station accessory, which also adds two more USB 2.0 ports and another headphone jack.

The 10.5 x 6.8 x 0.55-inch (267 x 173 x 139mm) tablet weighs a hefty 1.72 pounds (780 grams), compared to, say, the 1.3-pound Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The weight is partly due to a heft 3650mAh battery, according to Olivetti.

The OliPad ships with Android 2.2, as well as applications including a web browser, email management, calendar, contacts, and e-reading software. As noted earlier, it includes Olivetti's own dedicated App Shop rather than Android Market.

Although the OliPad is designed to span both consumer and business customers, Olivetti touts the tablet as a flexible business tool that enables the "hardware and software to be configured to suit specific corporate needs and enhanced with vertical applications." The company's business-oriented Application Warehouse is accessible to Olivetti dealers, enabling high levels of customization to cater to specific corporate requirements," says the company.

Features, apps, and services available on the Application Warehouse are said to include an online helpdesk as well as:

  • "a number of applications supplied on a cloud computing basis"
  • digital catalogs and a guide to point-of-sale preparation dedicated to fashion industry networks
  • Sales force management applications
  • "Tool Enterprise Social Network" service targeted at teams working inside and outside companies
  • "Signature Workflow Management" app for the digital signature of corporate documents

The Olivetti approach to the tablet market foreshadows the "death by a thousand cuts" competition facing Apple, RIM, Microsoft, and others who bring proprietary tablet solutions to market. An open source operating system like Android was apparently just what Olivetti needed to fulfill its ambitious plan of offering a tablet that can be customized with its own catalog of apps.

The OliPad will never come close to matching the sales of the iPad, and may never even best it in Italy, but cumulatively, the OliPads of the world are likely to keep pushing Android ahead. This is especially true in business and vertical-market efforts that require extensive customization and corporate branding.

Still, unless Olivetti's Froyo adaptations for the big screen are particularly adept, the company needs get the OliPad upgraded to Honeycomb within the year, or risk being regarded as nostalgically as many consider its typewriters.


The OliPad is available today for the consumer market at a price of 399 euros ($558) including VAT, via Telecom Italia's sales network, as well as from TIM stores. The tablet will also be available bundled with ADSL packages and TIM price plans. The OliPad will be sold to enterprises and the public sector through Olivetti and Telecom Italia's dedicated sales networks, says the company.

More information may be found at Olivetti's OliPad page.

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