Notion Ink Adam Hands on Review
Jan
26

Notion Ink Adam Hands on Review

By

notion ink adam review

Welcome to the official Good e-Reader hands on Review of the most eagerly anticipated Tablet PC of 2011, the Notion Ink Adam. We have the highest end version you can possibly get the 10.1 Inch Pixel-QI 3G WI-FI.  Can this device live up to the viral hype that surrounded it during the entire development process? Or is it really everything it was billed to be?

The Hardware

The Notion Ink Adam features a 10.1 inch multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. It has a 1 GHz Dual-core ARM Cortex -A9 with a  Nvidia Tegra 250 processor and 1 GB of DDR2 RAM. You have a fair amount of internal memory to store your content via the 8GB of flash memory and can further increase it up to 32 GB via the MicroSD slot. We found with our testing that although the internal memory has 8 GB, you only have 5 GB to work with due to the applications and operating system pre-installed.

The Adam comes with a built in accelerometer to switch between landscape and portrait mode. It quickly does its task flipping it, so we have no problems with any type of LAG.  The LCD screen also includes an Ambient Light Sensor to automatically dim the screen. In conjunction with the Pixel QI Screen, it allows for more power saving and the ability to read in direct sunlight. The screen itself also has anti-Glare coating, Finger Print resistive and scratch resistant enhancements. All of these factors employed by the Adam greatly enhances the screen technology that no other competitor on the market uses.

The Anti-Glare and scratch resistive coating has met with some controversy thus far, we found through our experiments that fingerprints instantly got all over the unit. The screen itself did not show them to a high degree, but the outside of the screen sure did. Although the screen is not as resilient as Gorilla Glass, it looks like it could hold up to some serious use. Recently CEO of Notion Ink, Rohan Shravan commented on the way the anti-glare and anti-fingerprint technology works talking with Slashgear “The Adam comes with 2 layers of Matte Surfaces, one on the Pixel QI LCD screen, other through the Matte Screen protector on the outside Glass. Inside layer cuts the gloss on the LCD layer and colors are not washed out. For the outside glass we are using specially designed matte covers which users at their end can decide to use or not. It is finger stain resistant (oil component) and has same matte properties as on the LCD. The glass in itself is further scratch resistant.”

The Notion Ink Adam uses both LCD screens and Pixel QI screens, with the latter coming at a higher cost. Want to know more about it? Check out the great interview we conducted at CES with the CFO of Pixel QI. Lets just summarize for a moment what Pixel-QI is all about.  The technology allows two different modes, one being high color and brightness and the other a lower powered setting, kind of like how e-ink looks with high contrast and a grayscale background. The pseudo e-ink screen actually gets brighter the more direct sunlight falls upon it.

The Adam includes many interface ports such as; 2 USB 2.0 ports, mini USB, MicroSD, SIM Card and a mini HDMI port to connect your Adam into your Video card if it has a full HDMI or your HI-DEF TV. We tested hooking up a 16 GB USB flash drive and the Adam read it no problem, which is very nice to load files directly onto it or to copy them.

One of the great features on the Adam that proved to be the most fun in the first 10 hours of playing with the device is the swivel camera that actually adjusts itself in an arc, unlike many netbook and tablet cameras that have a fixed position. The camera can move a total of 185 degrees and can take pictures or video! It is also 3.2 MP! Solid!

For audio functionality it has stereo speakers, a 3.5 mm headphone/microphone jack and a built in microphone to take advantage of teleconferencing via the swivel camera.

For internet connectivity there are different models of the Notion Ink Adam to choose from, the lower cost ones only have WIFI access and the more costly ones have 3G. We got the highest end model available that had both WIFI, Bluetooth 2.1 support and 3G. The nice thing about the Adam is that the company will determine based on your location when you order is placed what frequency is best suited for 3G. When we pre-ordered our model, Notion Ink sent us an email saying the most compatible frequency band is Canada that was 850/1900 and if it was not, simply send them an email and they could change it for us!

Finally, it has a 3 Cell Removable Lithium-Polymer Battery. Because the Adam uses low voltage (around .02) it can feasibly last around 140 hours with Audio and around 18 hours of full HDMI video or greater. You can greatly enhance your usage of it by turning WI FI and bluetooth off and diving into Pixel-QI mode.

Software

The Adam currently runs on the Google Android 2.2 operating system, although all signs pointed to it coming out of the gates with 2.3.

There are many heavily customized programs for your day to day tasks that are unlike any other tablet experience you may have found so far. Essential day to day apps are tremendously revised and allow for a more intuitive experience with the Adam. We found the Email client (Mail’d) File Browser (sniffer) Web browser, paint (Canvas) had the best experience so far.
With the web browser we were able to view Adobe FLASH content and embedded Youtube videos right out of the gates! This is after we installed the update that was provided to us. The orignal update we used was for the people who bricked their units on the first day. If you do not have FLASH on your Adam you can get it HERE and manually install it via the Sniffer application, if you copy the downloaded file to your USB drive or MicroSD card..

As well, the Adam has many more modified applications right out of the box including; Quick Office Suite, Calendar, Weather, Music player, Sound Recorder, Calculator and tons more!

When we had our Adam today, it’s a given that this is an early firmware version and many of the applications were unresponsive and did not work. We had a heck of a time configuring the email client and Facebook application, which in the end did not work. Although once we relized our clock was by default set to 2009, this quickly solved the Facebook problem.  Another application that failed to work was NIMBUZZ which allows for free calls and instant messages to phones. In theory its a great service, but if you try and register a new account the CAPTCHA code that verifies you are not a spammer failed to load. This caused an inability to directly register a for a new service account directly on your Adam, instead you have to create the account with the PC first. Other errors in software included many applications having the top half of the navigation bar, or the title of the application being half cut off. This resulted in important instructions or titles being unreadable. We found this prevalent in almost 65% of all of the bundled applications that came with the unit.

Although Notion Ink has claimed its Genesis Android market would be on the Adam when it shipped it clearly did not. So far we have no way out of the box to connect to any kind of Android Market. So if you want to download some alternative Google Android Markets, such as Sam 4.0, you can install them on the Adam, or you can ROOT your device for the full Google Android Market.

Our Thoughts

We will continue to review this unit as firmware updates come out, the Notion Ink Adam is a sturdy and sexy piece of hardware. The Speakers are very loud and the microphone input is very responsive. The 185 degree webcam is also a great hardware feature. Also the Pixel QI model we have allows for NO glare and the battery life is amazing. It has been running 1080 P video streaming to the television and streaming audio for 16 hours so far, and it  is still at 45% battery life. We were told that it should last up to 150 hours with just audio with a Pixel QI model and WI-FI turned off due to the low voltage.

Upon our first review the Eden GUI is buggy and often you have to double or triple tap program icons to launch it. Even to pull out the quintessential android program tab, you do not swipe it, like you would almost every other device, instead you just single click on it, tis indeed took some getting used to. The email client as well is in a non working state and when you configure email accounts, if you choose POP3 it defaults everything to IMAP.  One of the most irksome errors we encountered so far,  was the fact that when you adjusted your brightness level allot of programs discounted your settings resulted in your screen being bright one moment and dim the next.

In my mind the project launched too quickly without having time to get all of the software working right out of the gates. Most of these errors we have outlined can surely be fixed in a few firmware factory update. Speaking of updates, people who received their Adam the first day had their units bricked due to a faulty firmware update, although Notion Ink did provide a solution a few hours later.

In my opinion the design aesthetics on the Notion Ink Adam are unparalleled when you compare them to your average Android Tablet. The hardware and the software are just so distinctive. From the Eden GUI and other hardware goodies such as the swivel camera, anti-glare, Pixel-QI and anti-scratch technologies really make this Adam a big bang for your buck.  The money you spend on the Notion Ink Adam will be well invested once they get the firmware bugs sorted out. We are certainly not forgetting that we got one of the FIRST units worldwide and obviously like any piece of new technology from a start-up company with no track record of developing this type of product,  it will experience some growing pains. The big saving grace other then the hardware is the fact Notion Ink as a company, is visibly excited about this product. From when the product was first announced, and throughout the entire development cycle Notion Ink via their Blog kept the community in the loop. They petitioned the fans of the Adam to determine its color, extra colors it will eventually ship in, and even their logo. Not to mention its 1 million dollar Project Genesis application development program. Most companies for applications end up just giving away a free tablet, such as RIM and their new Playbook version of Appworld. You can tell Notion Ink is a company that is firmly standing behind their product and that is a company you want to get behind and support.

Stay tuned to the Good e-Reader blog, as we got a ton of Notion Ink video coming down the pipe. We have the unboxing and 1 hour review of the device. We are also putting together some iPad vs. Adam and how they perform under direct light with Pixel QI and reading in the dark.  Also don’t forget to visit our retail partner for all of your tablet and e-Reader needs, Shop e-Readers.

Update: Notion Ink has sent us an email saying that the firmware update along with instructions on how to install it will be sent out within the next day or two. Hopefully we can find Facebook, and email working correctly, along with the Android 2.3 update and the Genesis app store.  All of these updates would greatly contribute to the device’s feasibility of use in the next day or two.

Update 2: When the Notion Ink shipped, by default the date was set to 2009 which resulted in some software errors. When we mentioned the Facebook application earlier failed to connect it did with the error in the date and time. Once we manually changed this in the settings menu the application seemed to load fine, although it is branded “HTC Desire.”

Update 3: Many people have been asking what USB format the Notion Ink Adam reads. We have taken some pictures of our findings and you can see the Adam reads both FAT and FAT32 but not NTFS.

Update 4: We have made a follow up review, that shows you how to fix a ton of software glitches and bugs. We compare the Adam to the iPad, show you how to load Android Apps on your Adam. We also go into eBook Android Applications and how ebooks look both in Pixel QI and normal mode. Finally, we compare e-readers and the adam side by side. Check it out HERE.

Update 5: We have issued a Tips and Tricks Thread and a 3rd review of the unit

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Michael Kozlowski (4226 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


  • Libin Ks2

    Tks for the post…………..

  • Anonymous

    40 hrs straight 1080 streaming and still 65% battery life….. so impressed.
    WOOOOOOOWWWWWWW

  • Mika

    Why dont you tell more about *your* impression of the screen rather than copy&paste technical infos from other pages.
    First pics and videos show to me a rather dissapointing glare, not much different from the iPad….?

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    copy paste? we did not copy paste any technical info, if anything, allot of sites got the specs wrong.So we have to outline the parameters of the technical info, due to the fact the Adam kills most other tablets in terms of its hardware, most new people to tablets have no clue the differences between a knockoff E-Pad and an iPad, the Adam or the Archos 5.
    Most people claim, including notion inks own wikipedia page that the adam ships with 2.3, when it infact ships with 2.2

    Also battery life was greatly over inflated.

  • Peet

    Could you give some more info about the screen en the reflection. A lot of first impressions are bashing the screen and the promised looking angle. Also reading outdoors is impossible according to some first comments on the Adam.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    We are going to film some videos on thrusday and test this out directly! We are going to compare the screen in an direct sunlight setting in normal mode and with Pixel QI, we will use the IPAD as a benchmark for its comparison (mainly cause everyone knows how the ipad performs) Most other reviews have been negative so far, because they do not know how pixel qi is supposed to function, or use a camera with FLASH. If you use a flash based camera you will always get glare.

  • Srrpenna

    Some one mentioned if u update date and time, it seem to sortout facebook connecting issues

  • Anonymous

    eh? 16hrs with 45%….. thats still good. So the early 40 hrs was 4 hrs?
    So we can expect ~24hrs?

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Your right and we updated the thread. BY default the Adam shipped with a Jan 1st 2009 date on it, once we changed the date and time to the real one the application worked. Although the network auto date and time still does not work.

  • Anonymous

    Keep it coming…..we are waiting for more!

  • Peet

    Thanx, this will also be the deal maker or breaker for me! Looking forward to your findings.

  • Ninpuukamui

    Hello, can you please let us know if you are using the matte screen protector included?

    Note many of the reviewers have shown highly reflective screens in videos, with no flash involved, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vh-lqKXU_c.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Well this is mainly due to the overhead light he is using as you can even see from this picture, he is using a light with no film or paper blocking it, so you get the harsh glare. Like when we film things, we have studio production lights, with wax paper blocking the glare from the lights. With amateur videos like this, you see the harsh glare from the lightsource used to illiminate the product their talking about.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    NO problems! Keep on staying tuned and we will update our review to links to our videos. We have an unboxing done, and a review we did the minute we turned it on! So you can explore a cool new device right along with us. They should be up within the next 4 or 5 hours.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Check out our unboxing video of the Adam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFTF5L9rT68

  • Anonymous

    From what Rohan has indicated, it will not be going to 2.3. What they have said is that they have a hybrid 2.2 and 2.3 system where they have included what they determined to be the beneficial packages/libraries from 2.3 in the system rather than doing a full 2.3 update.

  • Ninpuukamui

    Thank you very much for the quick response.

    I’m trying to not come too harsh here, but what I understand is that under controlled circumstances with special light sources, the glare can be reduced to a minimum. Of course, people on their homes will not have this kind of set up; outside, the sun may also produce a different kind of light (thanks for the upcoming outdoors video :) ).

    Would you say that under normal house lightning the device will still produce no glare? I’d also be very interested too to know how much of a difference the protective screen makes.

    Thank you very much again for a very professional review.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Well from what we have seen even the iPad has glare if you are looking directly at it, but this is from a film or camera point of view. When you physically look at it, you do not see a huge reflection, you notice it first, but your mind phases it out. Its like a reflection in any LCD based tablet or small screen. We’ll do a video later on today with the screen protector it comes with, and do before and after photos along with video. We’ll use the ipad as a bench mark with no fancy lighting.

  • Woohyun Shim

    Can you compare the Pixel Qi screen with other ebook readers like sony and kindle?
    I really want to know contrast issues which are raised by some users.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Yes Indeed! We will be doing these videos on Thrusday and posting them then. We will compare the Adam with Pixel QI vs the Amazon Kindle, Sony e-Readers, Kobo and compare it as well for book reading vs the Nook Color and Apple iPad. We’ll run a series of tests. Videos not to be missed.

  • guest

    Hi,

    how were you able to remove the battery? I havent been able to open my adam at all. the side strips look to be on there pretty good

  • Polol

    Finally, a serious and unbiased review of the Adam.

    Will be frequenting this blog often.

    Hopefully one day you’ll be bigger than Crunchgear. :)

  • NZ

    Is the rear touchpad on the device ? I had heard it was being shipped “disabled” but I have never been able to confirm if it was physically there..

  • Tim Elston

    One person on the notionink.wordpress.com site said that the reported PixelQi contrast darkness can be resolved by making it brighter under Settings.

  • Echobasealpha

    Glad you guys were able to get your hands on the Adam. I’ve been waiting to hear about some real hands on reviews. Thank you!

  • DA_NEZ

    hey, im just wondering if u could get home replacements on the tablet, like launcher pro and other stuff?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks that was nice…waiting for the detail review videos…..yes we are insatiable :)

  • Gopi

    Hi,
    can you also check whether hard drive over 500 GB works with Adam. Maybe you can try Fat32, NTFS.

  • Mid Westerner

    Very well balanced post.
    Keep up the good work!
    Peace

  • little al

    A very clear and detailed review and likewise very clear and detailed pictures. The Adam sure is impressive.
    Looking forward to your update following Adam’s announced firmware revision.
    Keep up the Good work and we’ll enjoy the Good reading on your site. Thanks!

  • tafilad

    Thank you,a fair review which is good to see

  • http://twitter.com/twospirits twospirits

    A very well done review. I agree, Crunchgear can learn a few things from these guys. Very professionally done. Showing the good and the bad.

    Hopefully the reviewers will apply the updates circulating around ( http://bit.ly/NIHAdamFix ) and retest the apps. Should be able to make it much smoother.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/Jacobsen.Douglas Doug

    I agree. Very level headed comments.

    I’m glad to see a review commenting on the fact that software issues can always be fixed.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/Jacobsen.Douglas Doug

    theres another review I saw that said NTFS didn’t work at all on the Adam, but I maybe wrong.

    I would assume either Fat32, or EXT3/4 would work better than NTFS.

  • http://openid-provider.appspot.com/mkatsev Max

    Yes, please, thank you very much!! Please make comparison under different lighting (sunlight outside, different levels of artificial light inside) and also with different levels of screen brightness, including backlight completely off. Also please comment on the eye strain.

  • Red

    “Not to mention its 1 million dollar Project Genesis application development program.”
    They couldn’t even stick with giving the logo contestants their discounts so I’m not a big believer they’ll follow through on the application development program.

    Also a little concerned with how the viewsonic gtablet seems to be running eden just fine. Could it end up being more hardware releted than thought? Hoping not for NI’s sake.

  • Red

    “Not to mention its 1 million dollar Project Genesis application development program.”
    They couldn’t even stick with giving the logo contestants their discounts so I’m not a big believer they’ll follow through on the application development program.

    Also a little concerned with how the viewsonic gtablet seems to be running eden just fine. Could it end up being more hardware releted than thought? Hoping not for NI’s sake.

  • Zortiger

    I am not to worried about the logo contest yet.
    At this point the Adam really hasn’t reach general availability.

    If it reaches general availability, and they haven’t done anything with the logo contest yet, then worry.
    At this point, they need to focus on making money, not giving away free stuff people are due.

  • Anonymous

    Michael I’d like to hear your comment on what CG said about the screen. http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/01/25/notion-ink-adam-user-meta-review/?replytocom=1672265#comment-1672431

    They seem to have an ultra glossy screen and yours is more matt looking. Something is off, every thing I read about the Notion Ink Adam says it has a matt screen but this guy shows it as a super glossy screen like looking at a phone or plasma TV screen.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing review, …please keep up the great work. I thought Id only be able to get a fair review from my XDA brethren, but you just earned yourselves a bookmark.

  • zelduh

    It is NOT there. There was a patent infringement issue involved with the rear touchpad and NI (very intelligently) chose not to get involved in that litigation. (If it is resolved within the next year, I am sure we’ll see it on Adam II.)

    :-)

  • Robert

    Nice review, however there are a few errors. The camera (at least according to Rohan on the blog) should swivel through 185 degrees. Also, you mentioned the weather and music ‘leaf’ apps – as far as I know the latter is not present in the latest update and the music app is stock Android. Rohan did mention I think that the latter would follow in a February OTA update. In good light, the camera seems pretty decent but video is a little disappointing; it records at 15fps. Perhaps you should edit the section about the Genesis prize as this was dropped. The colours of the Adam will be adjusted through changing the bezel surround as a separate accessory available through a third party – the tablet will not be available in different physical colours as such. But any user will be able to customize his Adam a bit.

  • zaggle

    looking forward to that :-)

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Hopefully! We do put a ton of time into our news service and do hands on reviews with most tablets and e-readers! We are happy you enjoy our news service

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Check out the 3rd update, we posted pictures of the Adams support for FAT and FAT 32 but it does not support NTFS

    Check out the pictures

    http://goodereader.coml/blog/uploads/images/notion-ink-adam-fat.jpg
    http://goodereader.com/blog/uploads/images/notion-ink-adam-fat32.jpg

  • http://www.facebook.com/pratikhome Pratik Home

    Great job, done in a thoroughly professional manner. You guys can teach a lot of techblogs how to do an unbiased review a product! Looking forward to more in depth review.

  • Anonymous

    Nice review. Thanks. I’ve been following this and was looking forward to the reviews. CrunchGear has been a real disappointment. Their bias and continual claims of vaporware was such a turn off.

    You have a great site. Thank you.

    I have an iPad but really want a full tablet (sorry, Flash is now, HTML5 isn’t there at the moment, and some sites are fully in Flash, making my ability to surf the web extremely limited). been trying to figure out my next step will be to replace this guy. Adam, Xoom, ugh. How about a nice tablet that doesn’t require a contract and doesn’t cost a fortune. An elusive animal that.

    I’ll be closely following your site, to be sure.

  • Anthony Martins

    Well I have been trying to use my Adam outdoors and its really difficult. The matte screen protector does little to help the glare. Feels really bad to have paid extra for the Pixel QI screen, its useless for me outdoors and in a lot of indoor light settings. Not to mention the awful bugs and lag this think has. Its really getting on my nerves that I paid so much for this unfinished product.

    I dont understand how anyone can give the Adam a good review when they are all experiencing these major issues. I would not have paid for this tablet if I knew I would be getting a tablet with so many problems. Notion Ink has been given too much slack, they should not have released the Adam if it wasnt going to work properly. Right now I feel like I purchased some cheap chinese ipad knockoff

  • Barnacle Bill

    I’m going to be reading in a normal house or outside in the sunshine: a video using special studio production lights would be useless to show me how the device is going to perform for me under normal conditions of use.

  • http://mofanim.wordpress.com/ mangecoeur

    Second that, Crunchgear apparently have a bit of a crusade against Adam (bad JooJoo maybe :P )

  • NZ

    Thanks for sharing that information, it really is disappointing when a featured is pulled not for technical reasons but for supposed patent reasons..

  • Libin

    notionink adam is a good piece of hardware hoping to buy soon… tks a lot on all the reviews

  • Libin

    software errors can be easily fixed

  • Hstern

    Omnistar Mailer http://www.omnistarmailer.com is the best priced email marketing software around

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/darethehair darethehair

    Please provide info on total costs (shipping/customs/courier/etc) and shipping durations. Other Canadians like myself would love to know about this ahead of time :)

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Notion Ink charges you for shipping when you order the Adam, its around 50.00. I did not have to pay any customs or duty or anything

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/citiesxl Allan Nielsen

    Please review the http://mysparktech.com/features.html
    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Does this work with a Stylus? One of the downsides of being a science major is that you can’t use tablets accordingly to take notes because it’s hard to draw chemical structures and math equations.

  • Ddss

    There are styluses for capacitive screens

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=683642868 Simon Stewart

    HTC flyer is THE tablet for you.

  • Ken

    It all sounded great until I spotted the lack of NTFS support – the review mentions FAT and FAT32 support but also does not mention EXT3/4 support. Not sure how the reviewers were able to play 16 hours worth of 1080p content on this device without support for either NTFS or EXT3/4 as you would have to break your video files down into chunks under 4GB to play them – not a neat solution by any stretch.