notion ink adam: initial impressions

As a brief continuation of my EAP post, I got a mail out of the blue from Notion Ink offering me a chance to buy an Adam tablet (running the Android OS). So I went ahead and bought one. Obviously they didn't actually have the one I wanted, so I ended-up getting the Pixel Qi+WiFi version, sans 3G.

This post contains my initial impressions on the device.

The Good

Build. I'm very surprised by how solid the whole unit feels. I thought there would be flimsy and creaky plastic in abundance. Not the case (burhhur!).

The curved spine of the device feels great to hold when reading in portrait. Apparently it uses the Golden Ratio in its curvature. Whatever it is, I approve.

Pixel Qi. The screen can be read in daylight - including direct sunshine - with the backlight turned off. Or turned on if you prefer, but you don't get that much colour and you're just wasting battery life. I have no blotchiness, viewing angle, nor washed-out colour problems that some other users have been reporting. I'm sure the contrast and colour saturation is lower than a standard LCD, let alone an IPS LCD, but I don't really notice it as I don't have another non-Pixel Qi tablet beside this one.

Speed. The whole thing runs very fast and smooth with no lag. It should however be noted that I more or less immediately rooted the device. More on that below.

The Bad

Software. I have seen a lot of complaints about the Eden software that Notion Ink created to run on-top of Android, but I didn't really run into any problems - probably because I insta-rooted. I still feel that NI wasted their resources working on it, especially with Honeycomb around the corner. Apps need to specifically have support for the Panels system in Eden, of which none actually do except for some of the ones that come with the system.

Without market access, the device is limited. Rooting is almost a requirement if you want to do more than browse and mess about with Quickoffice/mail.

Persistent Applications. Technically a part of Software, but so annoying that I created its own section. For some completely unknown reason, there is a random mix of apps running in the background that I didn't start. For example, Facebook. I kill the task and then continue doing my thing. I look again at the tasklist and it's back! This happens all the time, and with a lot of different apps. Very annoying and wasteful.

Context Buttons. Actually, the buttons themselves are fine. The problem is that they're not illuminated - EL lighting would've been ideal. Until you get used to their placement, hitting the Search/Back/etc buttons in the dark is going to be annoying. Even glow-in-the-dark paint would've been better than nothing at all.

Power Button. Considering how well built the rest of the system is, the power button is surprising. It's very small and feels like the spring that resists against it (think Nintendo DS Lite) will boing in the near future. A stiffened micro-switch would've been better. Of all the possible mechanical failures in a device like this, I suspect this is the most likely to occur first.

Coloured Strip. The white strip going around the Adam, as shown in the pictures below, is in fact a vinyl sticker. Mine has started to "bubble" with air in a few spots. I'm not too bothered about it as I can replace it if NI ever bring out alternate colours, but it's still a bit shoddy. Update: Turns it there's a clear film on-top of the vinyl sticker - that is what's peeling off, and not the actual white vinyl itself.

Plug. The charger comes with a 2-pin US plug. I'm using a US/EU/Japan/Universal to UK 3-Pin Adapter (pack of 2, black) to enable me to use it in the UK. The charger itself is 100 - 240 volts and so works fine.

MicroSD Slot. Okay, this isn't bad per sé, but why wasn't a standard SD slot used? I'm pretty sure it would've fit. Of course I don't know that for a fact, but I wrote it as though I did. Standard internet behaviour, I'm afraid.

Notion Ink. The company. The company is astonishingly bad. I'll expand on this in the full review. I doubt they'll improve in the meantime.

The Rooting

I did an update to the latest over-the-air firmware. But then I went and rooted the device and installed EdenX on it, along with the Cell fix. The cell fix removes the service that causes the Adam to continually scan for a mobile phone (or "cell", if you're inclined that way) and completely spunk away its battery life.

EdenX allows me to change between both the standard Eden and standard Android home screens. There are also other things in there like the Google Market, Google apps, dedicated Youtube app, and what have you.

The Other

UK Customs. Updated. Import duty must be paid; TNT charged me £86.50. Incidentally, the documents I received 2-3 weeks after receiving the Adam make no sense whatsoever. There are various scans of invoices but no information on how to actually make the payment. The invoice states a deadline of four days after its arrival. I was hoping to pay it online but TNT's site is as cretinous as this invoice is.

Okay, that's all for now. Below are a few photos I took of the Adam and published on Twitter the day I got it. Ask away if you have any questions and I'll answer them.

Incidentally, the foldable cricket stand I got is ideal with the Adam.

Check out the bokeh!

Posted: 2011-03-18 at 12:07:43,