So the day has finally come for the Notion Ink Adam to become a reality. On pre-order day I ordered myself a Pixel Qi WiFi model and my brother a LCD WiFi model. Unfortunately due to some broken hardware reported during initial shipping, mine has yet to even post a ship date. Today the LCD model arrived on our doorstep and so far I can tell you it was worth the wait. After all the bad mojo Notion Ink was experiencing, I think the tablet was well worth the wait and heartbreak, well at least as far as I can tell only handling it for about an hour or so. Here are my initial thoughts about the hardware and a quick look at the heavily modified Android 2.2 UI.
Our video unboxing of the Adam
The LCD model has a gorgeous 10 all glass screen. The glass pretty much covers edge to edge will a little plastic showing at the top where the curve starts. The touchscreen is quite responsive and the touch sensitive buttons work very well. The glass makes it a glare type screen but the included screen protector can be installed and looks to provide an anti-glare, anti-fingerprint finish. Overall the screen feels very solid and smooth and is to the likes of the Gorilla Glass screen on my Vibrant and most Verizon Droid phones. The screen does have a rather large black bezel around it but is not too bothersome since it is also covered in glass and not the plastic material. The brightness is controlled by a sensor on the right side up near the top of the device. I am left-handed and found myself covering the sensor while naturally holding it which in turn made the screen slightly dimmer. You can disable auto brightness in the settings but most right handers wont have this issue. The screen is very responsive for the most part, I found sometimes I had to hit buttons a few times or do a few taps on the screen to make the device react to my touch, seems like more of a software issues than a problem with the hardware. The drawing app is smooth and jitter free even without using a stylus. I would like to see a little better reaction from the screen which may come in a future update, otherwise it’s right on par with most current touchscreen phones.
The casing is an all plastic textured finish that feels quite solid. You can see slightly see the smudges from your fingers on the plastic, but it looks and feels solid and will likely hold up well to scratches. The top portion has a strip of perforated rubber that looks like a honeycomb pattern with a round perforated disc on either side where the sound comes through the speakers. The back is a slightly smooth but textured and has the hump on the top and 4 small rubber feet. When laying flat the hump prevents the top rubber feet from touching the surface so I’m not really sure why they added them. The sides are while plastic and feel quite sturdy also. I can’t hear creaks or feel any clicks when pressing on it, and it’s slightly inset from the rest of the casing. There are no access doors or anything you can open on the case. It’s completely sealed and free of all screw holes or pry points. The lines are smooth and defines, even though the casing is mostly squared off on the sides, it’s free of all any sharp edges.
The Adam has quite an assortment of ports for your connection enjoyment. There are 2 full size USB ports and one mini USB which I would imagine can also be used as a data connection or maybe even to charge the device. There is also a standard size HDMI port on the right side for full 1080P output and connection to a large screen TV or projector. I’m not sure if the HDMI is also audio out capable but I’m pretty sure the Tegra 2 supports Audio over HDMI. Will have to test that in the future. On the left side of the device has a speaker up top, a volume rocker switch, a full USB port and a micro USB port. The right side has a speaker up top, the power switch, HDMI, full USB, back button, headphone jack, power jack and cpu usage light as well as charge indicator. The bottom has the micro SD slot, a reset pinhole, and the built-in microphone hole. If your model has a sim card slot then that would also be on the bottom next to the micro SD slot, otherwise the slot has a rubber cover that keeps it protected from dust and moisture.
This was my biggest concern for this device and seems to be the biggest learning curve for me. Being a stock Android person I like everything very simple and clutter free. The UI is not hard to navigate around in, but there are not many included apps and I have yet to figure out how to get more. Now I’m sure after some more hands on time it will be pretty simple but for now I’m not 100% convinced on the included UI and interface. The mail is pretty simple to set up, and the map and canvas apps are self-explanatory. The panel system is pretty cool and is simple to add more panes and shuffle through, but I will probably be toying with putting a stock Honeycomb Rom on this when it becomes available. Not that I really want to jump to conclusions yet since I spent more time writing about it than really using it. I’ll have more about the software and UI after a good week’s hands on. The browser is very fast over WiFi and easy to navigate. Adding additional tabs is really easy and makes it quite simple to switch between. So far this is my favorite piece of software on the device and most likely one to get a good amount of use.
Final First Thoughts:
Buyers remorse has not and probably will not be setting in. The hardware is just as expected and so far I am quite impressed. There are no apps included that truly show me the power of the Tegra 2 chipset but hopefully that changes in the near future. The software will be the biggest learning curve but more than likely someday when it becomes available I’ll be sporting the open source OS in its stock format. I do this with all my Android devices when possible so I can’t really take any innovation points away from Notion Ink for making it their own. The sniffer app automatically mounts any USB drive I stuck in there which will make it easy to transfer or store files or docs to and from the device. There are enough ports on this to connect almost anything and the HDMI out will be perfect to take along any full HD videos or movies that I want to put on a larger screen. The overall build quality is great and the tablet itself feels quite solid which is something I value when buying a new device. After some good use I’ll write a full review and focus more on the software aspect of the tablet. If you have any questions or anything you want to know about please feel free to ask them in the comment section. Stay tuned to Gear Diary for more on the Adam Tablet.
Update: After some quick tinkering I was able to load almost any application by simply putting the .apk file on a thumbdrive and installing it directly. Flash, Angrybirds, Live wallpapers, ADW, etc works flawlessly. No hacking/modding/rooting needed…for now. Game on.
What I like:
- Hardware is solid
- Screen is vibrant and very touch sensitive
- Ports galore
- WiFi speeds are great with N router
- Browser is very fast
- Price is right at $450 (for LCD/WiFi) model
What I’d like to see improved:
- UI takes some getting used to
- No Marketplace (that I could find)
- Only 5.5GB usable built-in storage
- Power Cord could be a little longer
- Glass is a fingerprint magnet (without included protector installed)
Thanks to my brother @joescar for letting me film the unboxing of his new Adam Tablet