Notion Ink Adam : The first of it’s kind

Thursday 07th, July 2011 / 16:30 Written by
Notion Ink Adam : The first of it’s kind

Notion Ink has been in the news quite a bit, so we decided to actually GET the Adam Tablet and see what it’s all about. Well, we would be Vinu Thomas. I have played with the Adam previously, from the first software build to the current one, and I have to say that while initially I was VERY skeptical about the product, it has improved quite a bit. There are still a few rough edges, but for the most part, those can be ignored. I am waiting for the next variant though, just to see what these guys can come up with. It’s interesting, and definitely stands out from the current crop of tablets. We even mentioned it in our Tablet Roundup.

Here’s some of the Specifications:

  • Android 2.2 with the Eden Interface
  • NVIDIA Tegra 250 Dual Core Cortex A-9
  • ULP GPU
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 1GB SLC
  • 8 GB Flash
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 3-cell 24.6Wh battery
  • 10.1” WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixels) Transmissive, transflective and reflective modes ,Multi-touch
  • 3.2MP auto-focus Swivel Camera
  • WLAN – 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • WWAN – 3G UMTS 850 / 1900 MHz & 3G UMTS 900 / 2100 MHz, HSPA
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Built-in microphone
  • USB 2.0 Host x 2
  • MiniUSB
  • HDMI out
  • MicroSD card slot
  • SIM Card slot
  • DC connector
  • 3-Axis accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
  • True GPS
  • Digital Compass

The model that we have is the Pixel Qi, WiFi only model.

The packaging is quite Minimalistic (which I absolutely loved). It contains the Tablet, and a DC Charger. And that’s where my first issue comes up. Why couldn’t they bundle a Mini-USB Cable (let’s forget about a HDMI cable, earphones, etc)? Micro-USB is the standard now, and I’d understand if the connector were that, but Mini-USB cables are hard to find (how many devices use Mini-USB Nowadays?).

Design:

The Adam’s design is unique. Although it is a little hefty, it has a bulge at the top which you can use as a grab handle for one-handed use. This also houses the 3.2MP Swivel Camera, and the speakers (one on either side). There is a HUGE bezel though, which could be a good thing. Holding the device doesn’t obscure the screen. The left side of the device (as seen with the camera up top), has four capacitive buttons. The top one toggles the Pixel Qi display between Normal and Pixel Qi mode. Read up on Pixel Qi here folks. It is a brilliant idea, where the backlight is turned off to save battery (and your eyes), when you’re in reading mode. Unfortunately, that’s where the good part ends. I’ve heard that the LCD display is good, but the Pixel Qi Display, well, isn’t. Colours are washed out, and in Pixel Qi mode, I really couldn’t read a book outdoors. The second generation displays are usually better, so I’m not saying that’s the end of the road for Pixel Qi.Below that is the Home Button, which brings you back to the home panels. Long pressing the Home button shows the task switcher and task killer. Below that is the Menu Button and the Back Button. Unfortunately, these buttons are not Backlit. I struggled while using the device in the dark.

The Right side has a toggle switch to toggle Silent Mode and to turn off the device or wake up the display. Below that there’s a full HDMI port, a USB 2.0 Host port, a physical Back Button, the headphone jack, two LEDs that show charging status and process usage (whether it’s running or not) and a DC charger port.

The left side houses the volume rocker, a USB 2.0 Host and a Mini USB port (why no Micro-USB folks?).

The bottom of the device houses the Microphone, a Micro-SD card slot and a Hard Reset Button.

All said and done, it’s a well designed device.  A lot of things have been thought through. I wish it was a little lighter though. Prolonged usage is, well, not really comfortable.

Display:

The device has a 10.1″ WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixels) display.

You can get the standard LCD Display or the Pixel Qi Model. Read up on Pixel Qi here folks. It is a brilliant idea, where the backlight is turned off to save battery (and your eyes), when you’re in reading mode. Unfortunately, that’s where the good part ends. I’ve heard that the LCD display is good, but the Pixel Qi Display, well, isn’t. Colours are washed out, and in Pixel Qi mode, I really couldn’t read a book outdoors. The second generation displays are usually better, so I’m not saying that’s the end of the road for Pixel Qi.

As we mentioned before, there’s a huge Bezel, but that way, your fingers don’t block the display while you hold the device.

Another thing that I noticed was that while for the most part scrolling was smooth, Pinch to zoom, especially in the browser was quite laggy. Double tap to zoom works perfectly though. I do wish the resolution were a bit higher though. Most 10.1″ tablets have a standard 1280×800 resolution.

UI/APPS:

The Adam has it’s own “skin” atop Android 2.2, which is aptly called Eden.

What you have is a list of panels, that you can side swipe to access, and you can interact with each panel while in the “panel view”or launch those applications by tapping the top of the panel (which shows the Window and the Close Icons). All the bundled NI apps can be set into panels, non NI apps however, cannot. The preloaded apps include Mail’d; an email application with multi-panel view that’s perfect for tablets, Sniffer; a file manager, that’s again Multi Panelled, Chords; the NI Music Player, The Broswer which is also skinned and offers a set of quick toggles that are always available and a Calendar app that is quite brilliant. The tablet came bundled with Adobe Flash, and has its own application stor;App Center as you have no access to Android Market. And of course, the NI Keyboard, which is quite good. The keyboard doesn’t have autocomplete or word prediction though, which I hope they add.

You might have noticed in some of the photos that the persistent status bar hides parts of the display. It’s quite irritating. What I didn’t know (which I came across by chance) was that tapping the battery icon hides/displays the status bar. Well done NI.

Performance/Battery Life:

The Tegra 2 processor handles everything really well.

Scrolling in the browser is smooth (although pinch to zoom isn’t), Flash videos embedded played perfectly as long as they’re below 720p (where it stutters just a little), switching between apps is quick, you can play HD Videos (720p), you can even access an external hard drive and transfer contents to and fro and play media right off it. The video player handled most formats, although it didn’t support mkv (as far as I know, I haven’t tried many formats yet).

Battery life though, is a little on the low side. I haven’t used the tablet long enough to give everyone an accurate rating, but standby battery life is quite low! I left the tablet at 69% at night, and woke up in the morning to find it at 14%. For a tablet, that’s pretty bad. It also drained out quite soon.

A couple of issues though, one minor, one major. The small one is that at times, while in sleep mode, the Adam disconnected wireless connections. So, say I was downloading something, and turned off the screen. I turned it back on, and it started re-connecting to the WiFi network again. This didn’t happen all the time though, so I’m not sure if it’s a bug or a power saving feature.

The major one though is that quite often, sleep mode ended up to be deep sleep. What I mean is, I left the display on, set the screen timer to a predetermined setting (say 1 minute), left it aside, came back to it, and found that it was off. It wasn’t out of charge, it just went off when un-attended. I hope this gets fixed soon.

Set that aside, and I have to say I was quite impressed with the performance of the device. It worked: very well.

Camera:

The 3.2 MP AF camera is set on the top, on a swivel mount. So you use the same camera for self portraits and video calls too. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to use the camera much, but the UI is standard AOSP (Android Open Source Project). If you’ve used a phone running Cyanogenmod, you’ll know what I mean. The quality too, is decent. Nothing Great. Issue though, is that it didn’t mirror the image when faced towards the user, it was inverted. Yeah, upside down.

Pros:

  • Fast Processor and Sufficient RAM to handle almost anything you throw at it
  • Pixel Qi screen; turn off the backlight while reading. Saves Battery, and the lack of glare will definitely prevent a headache
  • EDEN UI is quite easy to use. Pre Bundled apps are very well designed
  • App Center partially mitigates the lack of Android Market
  • Well designed, the bulge up on the top aids Single Handed Use

Cons:

  •  Pixel Qi Screen tends to be washed out, colours are not vivid. I’ve heard that the LCD screen is good
  • Software Glitches that need to be fixed (I’ve had Mail’d FC on me quite often, Camera FC’d and I was unable to access it afterwards until a reboot)
  • Touch – sometimes needs a push to work at times.
  • Battery Life
  • Device is quite heavy

The Adam is a seriously capable device. I do wish that some of the niggles that are present get ironed out in the near future. Your experience with the device might be different though. Love it or hate it? Let us know by commenting below.

Check out the full gallery below for the rest of the images and screenshots from the Adam.

Notion Ink Adam Tablet Rating

The Adam is a good concept but we found it lacking in a lot of areas

Notion Ink’s concept of the Adam Tablet was quite good, but in the end the cons outweighed the pros. The Pixel QI screen, which is good in concepts, gives a washed out display with a small viewing angle. The battery backup lasts just about a day even on standby, and apps kept force closing randomly.

Rating by Vinu Thomas: 3.0 stars
***

About the author

Drummer, Car enthusiast and wanna be rally driver, between jobs and loving it! @raghukannan

View all articles by Raghu Kannan

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