Monday, June 13, 2011


This is the last post I will make here at Bobert's Tech, but I'm not leaving. I'm just moving to a new blog (which has not been created yet). The Notion Ink community has died, and I can't keep up on all of the tablet news, so I will be covering a very broad topic. Tech in general. I will write mostly columns and analysis on the latest there is to write about. If you would like to follow this young blogger's journey I will post the link to the new blog when it is up.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Question of Eden on Honeycomb (Reposted)

(An opinion of how the Adam's future should look written in February. With Honeycomb coming in less than a month, I thought it could serve as somewhat of a prediction and possibly a guide of what we want to see for the Notion Ink devs.)     
     In Rohan's latest blog post he made a quick statement saying that the Eden apps have been ported to Honeycomb. We all know that the Adam is eventually getting an update to Honeycomb. It may be weeks or months before Notion Ink finalizes the update for us. The Adam will be absolutely awesome with Honeycomb on it, but the question is how much of the Eden UI will be thrown on top of Honeycomb?
     As you can see in the picture above, vanilla Honeycomb even looks good on the Adam. There's no telling how far into the core the Eden UI will dig, but this is most likely not what the final product will end up looking like. Unlike previous versions of Android, it is very hard to put a custom UI over the top of Honeycomb without completely destroying it. This is a good thing, because I generally hate the custom skins they throw on top on Android.
     Way back in December Android Police had an interview with sir Rohan of Notion Ink. When asked if Eden would be preserved with Honeycomb, he said yes. In that same interview Rohan also said he would bring the Android Market with the Honeycomb update. (I'm still crossing my fingers in hope on the Market.) A lot has changed since December and Notion Ink's design team could have very well changed their minds on the Eden thing.

     Honeycomb could definitely benefit from the panels concept of multitasking (see this column). They have made Froyo into something that is truly tablet worthy. That required a lot of work and deep digging into the source code. The problem could be that Eden is built totally around a smartphone OS, and cannot be reworked too well with a tablet OS. In Eden they have replaced the normal multitasking interface with a panel switcher that is completely useless with the multitude of apps that do not have panels. In Honeycomb, the app switching has been moved to a soft button in the status bar area. What I'm saying is that some things simply can't get carried over to Honeycomb.

     Honeycomb is very widget heavy, and if Eden completely annihilates the home screen like they do in the current version, it could be a very low point of Eden. The home screen needs to stay. They could possibly throw a dedicated panel button in the navigation bar at the bottom to bring up the panel view. That brings e to my next point. Notion Ink has managed to add a hiding feature to the Froyo status bar so it will be out of site unless it is truly necessary. Rohan said that tablets shouldn't always have a status bar to take up screen real-estate. This idea is going to go out of the windows if they want a feasible Honeycomb design. The always there navigation bar is another high point in Honeycomb, and to get rid of it would just not work.

     Coming back to the panels idea now. If they added an extra button in the navigation bar to open the panels, it would be absolutely fantastic. I'm not saying that it should replace the recent apps button, but it would do nicely in the adjacent space. It would be there at all times to quickly start your multitasking duties. The best part about having a dedicated panels button is that the home screen will remain intact. I can't stress enough how important it is to keep the home screen intact.

     There is no doubt that Honeycomb can get better with a sprinkling of Eden on top, but a smattering would be all too much. Honeycomb needs little improving as it is, so too much wouldn't jive very well with a lot of people (me included). I suppose if Eden angers you too much you could always get a different tablet or a custom ROM. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and the pool on the right.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Notion Ink Adam Eden 1.5 Review

     This is the review that I wanted to do when I first got my Adam. I was hoping that everyone was wrong and Eden was fantastic. I was proven very wrong, and had to write a bad review on a device that had a lot of potential. Four months have passed since then, and the tablet market has exploded since that time. Eden has improved a lot with this iteration. Is it enough? Find out after the break.
     A lot of emphasis has been put into managing tasks in this update. Everywhere you turn, there is an option to kill a process or clean something up. It may seem like overkill (get it?), but it really is useful. In the home button long press menu (HBLPM for short) you have a mini panel that shows how much RAM, CPU, memory, etc. you are using at the time. Also included in the HBLPM is the option to clear all panels or kill all processes.
     Let's talk about panels for a minute. They are finally worth using. There is very little lag in all of the animations and movements of the homescreen panels. There are a few more useful apps to utilize them now. They have made opening a full app or closing a panel much easier by putting both options at the top of each panel. Before those options were hidden in the menu key. Panels have been made much easier to manage as well. In the HBLPM you can scroll through all of your open panels and clear them as you please. If you so desire, you can also add apps into panel view from the HBLPM by dragging them from the bottom list of apps, or so I thought, as this action cause the process homescreen to force close nearly every time.
          In both of the app drawers (on the home screen and in the HBLPM) the apps the have an active process have a box around them to let you know that they are indeed working. Something that I found a little alarming is that the RAM meter you can see above is almost always full. This could be because it's limiting the amount of usable RAM, or it could be because Eden is a memory hog.
     Performance got a huge leap in this update. The quadrant score is about the same as before, but everything is so smooth now. It's amazing the amount of difference this makes in the user experience. There are also far less random crashes. They still occur, and since I've only been using this today, they could be more frequent than I know about. Still it's nice that I can actually do a little work on the tablet without fear of losing it all the next second.
     The browser is a little bit of a different story, but don't worry because it's a good one. What the browser gain in functionality, it lost in aesthetics. The side bar has been enlarged and given and odd blue and gray color scheme. It's almost like you are using some sort of accessibility magnification. The address bar has been moved to the bottom and much improved. It works like it should now. Tab switching doesn't cause the the browser to force close anymore (Thank Goodness!). I didn't have the chance to test flash, which is something I should point out. Flash was supposed to come bundled with this update, and it simply didn't.
          Chords is excellent (yes, that is proper grammar). There really isn't much more to say than that. I did have a not responding problem with it once, but a quick process kill took care of it. For some reason they left the stock android music app for you to gripe at. At least you can see how good you have it now.

     The alpha panel has received a few more options to control your Adam. Added is the new ToDO list app. With that they removed some space for the recent apps. The space is more than made for in the HBLPM. You know the HBLPM? It's practically like another home screen, or mission control if you prefer. A tap on the clock no longer show you a list of all of your apps, and unless I'm missing something, that option is gone entirely. A long press on the launcher button brings down the list of apps. Each app that has an active process is boxed here as well.
      This is what the Adam should have been back in January. Is it perfect? No. It is still missing one crucial feature. The Android Market isn't there. It isn't Honeycomb. It is more of a place filler; a drink of water to calm the hunger pangs if you will. Is it better? Much. This is a vast improvement over the old broken Eden. Most importantly, it is now usable. It may be great, but it isn't enough to keep me away from other Honeycomb tablets. We'll have to see what the June 27th slated Honeycomb update brings.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Notion Ink Adam Eden Update Landing Monday, Gingerbread Wednesday

     Adam owners will finally be able to taste sweet Gingerbread on Monday Wednesday with the release of Eden 1.5. Aside from Gingerbread, the update is suppose to bring several UI enhancements that hopefully make the interface a little bit more user friendly. Also onboard are many news apps such as the long-awaited weather app and Dolphin Browser HD. Another update is slotted for Wednesday with an unspecified changelog. Keep hitting those update buttons people!
     I apologize for misinforming the lucky people that read this article. The Gingerbread update is landing Wednesday, and the Major update to Eden 1.5 is landing Monday. The new Eden will bring many new features including a new look, supposedly enhanced usability (I'm skeptical), and many new apps. Let's hope for the best, and keep hitting those update buttons tomorrow. I'll post a review for you as soon as I can.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I Kept My Adam

     The sound of crickets has been floating around here as of late. Everyone involved has gone silent. Many people have just up and left in the order of selling their Adams. I don't blame them. I'm getting tired of waiting for that fabled usability approving Gingerbread update too. That doesn't mean I'm going to sell my Adam to some unsuspecting patron. I have many good reasons to stay.
     The Adam is a great device when it comes to the hardware. The only things that bring it down are the thickness and the terrible screen. The camera could be considered a downfall as well, but I'll leave it be. The problem is in the software. It's terrible. Notion Ink hasn't update it to the (supposedly) more user friendly version yet. Many people have ditched the Adam because they got sick of waiting.
     I know the user experience can be good because mine runs Honeycomb. The alpha version isn't as smooth as I would like it to be, but it gives me hope. Hope that one day Google will release the source code on something to give power to the Adam. If I have to wait for Ice Cream Sandwich I will. I trust Notion Ink to give us the updates we deserve.

     Even if they completely ruin Honeycomb with the Eden overlay, I have ROMs to fall back on. Why do I still have my Adam? Software can be fixed. It was cheap. Tegra II. Trust in Notion Ink.

Friday, May 20, 2011

We Aren't in Hiding. There Isn't Anything New to Report.

     There is a big update coming to the Adam in the coming week or two. Rohan specified the third week of May for the update. My best guess is an announcement dropping tomorrow morning. What do we do until then? We wait. Waiting is hard. Lot's of people out there expect us Notion Ink bloggers to give you an update every day. We can't do that when there is nothing new to report on. I , for one, am not going to make a post just to take up space. A few disgruntle commenters have been trolling Notion Ink Fan for being silent as of late. We are not gone. We just have nothing to report. If there is something to report, we will. Thank You

Friday, May 13, 2011

Notion Ink Adam ROM Review: Honeycomb Alpha (v. 11)

     This is, without a doubt, the best ROM available. I don't need to tell you about Honeycomb. If you must see the details about Honeycomb, here is a guide. How well does it run on the Adam? Pretty darn good. What makes it so good? Find out after the break.
     This is a very stable build for being an alpha version. You still get the small amount of force closes that you would expect from anything running android, but nothing major has happened yet. This is to be expected since this is actually a fully baked build on Honeycomb ripped from the Asus Eeepad Transformer. The devs have done a nice job of pulling out all signs of Asus. What you are left with is completely stock Honeycomb, and all of its goodness.

     On any and all 2.2 based ROMs, the touch screen felt a little unresponsive, which generally ruined the user experience for me. It wasn't terrible, but it was certainly worse than the XOOM or iPad. It may be the beautification of the UI, the tablet specific sizes, or a complete placebo, but the user experience shot through the roof with this ROM. Everything is perfectly snappy. It isn't quite as snappy as the XOOM, with a little snag here and there. You won't be disappointed.

     Eden notifications leave a lot to be desired with that tiny exclamation point up in the corner. The status bar hiding trick that Notion Ink employed worked to make status bar visible in all apps, but it is still out of the way. Notifications are on the right of the always present status/navbar. A click on the clock brings up quick settings and your notifications. On a side note, the dark glow that accompanies the clock pop-up is offset two inches to the left. Aside from the small glitch, it is really handy.

     Two shining features of Honeycomb over the Eden UI are the keyboard and the browser. The browser feels like you are using a small version of Chrome. Zooming and scrolling are both smooth. Bookmarks sync without worry. The only complaint I have (a common complaint across the web) is the rendering of webpages to the mobile versions. I'm not using a smartphone, and I don't wanted to be treated as such. Luckily you can just go into the debug setting to change the user agent string to desktop, or iPad, or whatever the heck you want.

     The Notion Ink keyboard is great isn't? I'm never going back to it after using the 3.0 offering. It's just better.

    This is now the ROM, and it will stay that way until Notion Ink gets their hands on some source code. With Honeycomb, the Adam can actually complete with other tablets. I finally like Adam over the iPad. Honeycomb bridges the gap between glossy, functional, and open. The best of all three, and it's now available for your enjoyment on the Notion Ink Adam.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Honeycomb 3.1 is Coming

     Today is day one at Google I/O, the announcements are in full swing. Of course, some of the pertain to the Adam. What would that be? Honeycomb 3.1 was announced  that brings widget resizing, USB support galore, and much improved multitasking/task management. What is the biggest takeaway from this? It will be open-sourced for Notion Ink to get their hands on. Honey from the garden of eden tastes even better.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dolphin Browser HD to Come Bundled with Adam

     Notion Ink is getting its fingers into many pies lately. They have announced today that they have made a deal with the makers of Dolphin Browser to include their phenomenal web browser in the upcoming update. Oddly, Dolphin Browser HD is completly incompatible with the Adam right now. It is even blocked on the Market (using Edenx). Better yet, the update has a timeline set for release in the "third week of this month". Around the same time, the Adam will be available for general sale.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kindle on Adam!

     No, I haven't gone crazy with the exclamation points today. Rohan announced late last night (sometime around noon in India) that Notion Ink is collaborating with Amazon to bring the Kindle Books app on the Adam. This is likely to come in the next update. This is very exciting especially considering their isn't a pre-installed book app to enjoy your Pixel Qi with. The next question is the possible future inclusion of the Amazon Appstore on the Adam.