Saturday, February 26, 2011

Notion Ink Adam Full Review

     This is a going to be a sad story. I have been following the Notion Ink scene for a year now, and this is all I have to show for it. The Adam has the makings of a great tablet, but it was just pushed out to soon with an inexperienced company. Find out everything good and bad after the break.
The Hardware
     The Hardware is excellent. The tablet is a bit on the thick side with a nice curve on the top to give it excellent grip. The back is entirely plastic, but that doesn't cause any problems. Around the edges it has two USB ports, on mini USB, the volume rocker, the power switch, a micro SD/SIM slot, a full size HDMI port, the headphone jack, the power port, and an odd back button. The Speakers are absolutely fantastic. The have great sound with and awesome stereo effect. The microphone isn't quite as good, but it is still supreme. The swivel camera on top feels a little loose, but not to the point that it will be a problem. My biggest gripe with the camera isn't the low quality, which I will get to later, it's the fact that it doesn't swivel the full 185 degrees like is stated in the tech specs. When locked in the forward position, it is perfectly parallel to the screen. 

The Screen
     The screen is definitely not the best feature of the device. It may be the worst feature of the device aside from the software. It is a 16:9, 10.1", 1024x600 screen. It was made for landscape mode, and in portrait mode it looks a little stretched out. The viewing angles aren't great either. You can get a better viewing angle by tilting it in portrait mode, but you are rarely in portrait mode. 

The Camera
     It has a 3.2MP auto-focus camera mounted in that special little swivel. The pictures are grainy and underwhelming. They are about what you would expect from a camera of that resolution, but a little worse. It is labeled as auto-focus, but it just cycles in and out of focus all of the time like it's in an endless loop. You just have to take the picture at the exact moment when the object is in focus. The video is the same way. Throughout an entire video it just cycles in and out of focus. You can't make a decent video unless you are in a video call.

The Software
     Inside you will find a dual-core Tegra II processor powering the beast. Coupled with that you get 1GB RAM and 8GB of flash memory. The problem with all of this is that you would never know it by using it. The Eden UI is slow. The apps are slow. The launcher is slow. Scrolling is far from smooth. The whole thing acts like the speed of a mid-range smartphone. It should be almost as fast as the Xoom, and it just isn't. The problem all lies with the software. 
     The problem isn't just speed, it's also the extreme amount of bugs that Notion Ink has yet to work out. I can't be productive on it because it is only a matter of time before something force closes on me and all of my work is gone. The apps are fantastic, but still slower than they should be. For a look into the good side of the software click here. I had several problems with the tablet rebooting spontaneously. One time it even went into a spontaneous reboot cycle. For a full list of the bad click here. 
    One of the biggest (it would be the biggest problem if the software was worth a dime) problems with the device is the Android Market or lack thereof. I understand that the Adam is not a phone, and that the Market is made for phones. Honeycomb still has access to the same phone apps that the Adam would. Rohan has stated back in December that the market would come with the update to Honeycomb which they are currently working on. Notion Ink is slated to release their own Genesis store in a short amount of time, but with the Adam's user base, it can't have a significant amount of apps in it. Just like the iPad, it's the apps that make it and without those apps it is not made. They need to give us a stable Honeycomb update that includes Eden and the Market. 
     With amazing apps like Mail'd and Sniffer, and amazing guts like the Tegra II processor, the Adam has the potential to go far. Right now I can't recommend it to the average user. The user experience was suffering so much that I rooted mine to get the market and ad-hoc (and now Edenx) until Notion Ink pushes out an update that fixes the bugs. When Notion Ink pushes out a stable build of Honeycomb with the market, the Adam will shine, but until that happens we will just have to keep faith in the hands of Notion Ink.

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