written by: luis84•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 8/15/2011
The Notion Ink Adam has long held the attention of tech enthusiasts and new users to the tablet world alike. Since the founding of the Indian-based start-up, Notion Ink, they have had all eyes on them, waiting for their first product, the Adam. Read our full review of the Notion Ink Adam.
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Concept & Design
One of the many things that drew attention to the Adam is the unique design. While the Adam appears to be a simple tablet computer, the design sets it apart in several ways.
The front of the Adam consists of a ten inch screen, four contact sensitive buttons and a 3.2 megapixel camera in the upper right corner. The Camera is a swivel camera which allows it to rotate 180 degrees thus transforming it into a rear camera as needed. The four contact sensitive buttons on the left side work very well. They do however, have one fatal flaw: they do not have a backlight. This means that in the dark it can be a pain to use these buttons, especially to someone who is not familiar with their layout.
On the left side of the device you will find a Mini USB port, a full-size USB port and a volume rocker. The bottom of the device features a micro SD slot as well as a SIM slot (for 3G models). The microphone opening is also located on the bottom panel of the Adam along with a reset button. On the right side you will find a charging port, headphone port, physical back button, a USB port, a HDMI port and a power button.
Overall the design is very sleek and functional. Unfortunately it is not perfect due to the lack of backlighting on the four touch sensitive buttons. For users who are experienced with the Adam, this is not an issue. New users may be annoyed when attempting to navigate these buttons in the dark.
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Functionality & Software
The Notion Ink Adam ships with a custom version of the Android operating system. The flavor which is shipped on the Notion Ink Adam is a blend of Android 2.2 and Android 2.3 with a new interface overlay, called "Eden".
The latest build of the Eden "Operating System" for the Notion Ink Adam is very functional and works as expect. The interface has a unique blend, utilizing "Leaves" which allow for a true multi-tasking experience. Unfortunately there are not many applications which support the "leaf" functionality of Eden.
The Notion Ink Adam has recently received an update to the Honeycomb (Android 3.0) operating system, which greatly increases the useability and enjoyability of the device. At the time of writing this, the Honeycomb update for the Notion Ink Adam is still in the beta phase and is missing full-screen flash support and full camera functionality. The rest of the Honeycomb operating system both looks and works great on the Notion Ink Adam.
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The Notion Ink Adam comes in several varieties. These varieties include 3G or WiFi only and LCD screen or Pixel-Qi screen. The Pixel-Qi screen enables the device to be used outdoors and in direct sunlight. This part of the review is based on a LCD 3G model.
The LCD screen is of a average quality. Vertical viewing angles are not the best, although the device is still very usable. Horizontal viewing angles are better, but still could be improved. The overall quality, brightness and color saturation of the screen is satisfactory. The screen is a pleasure to look at, colors are clear and blacks appear to be very dark and crisp as they should be. Viewing videos on the large 10 inch LCD clean is a pleasant experience.
The integrated dual 3D speakers are loud. They are clear and sound great. The only con to the speakers is that they do not have much bass, however this is not any different from the vast majority of mobile speakers, including those found on laptops and netbooks. The camera is 3.2 megapixels and looks great in good lighting. In uneven or low lighting the quality is poor. In earlier versions of the Adam the camera had a constant focus issue, which has been resolved in the later versions of the software. The camera rotates or "swivels" to allow it to become a rear camera as well. This works great and is a very handy feature.
The integrated GPS chip locks on to satellites quickly. It works well in conditions where there is not perfect line of sight. The integrated microphone does an excellent job at picking up sound and works very well with applications such as Google voice based search. The SIM card slot is a simple spring-loaded slot, configuring 3G is automatic in most cases but in some cases requires a simple APN configuration.
Overall the Adam feels solid and well-built. The top of the device has a rubber grip which comes in handy for using the device in vertical mode as an E-reader. The hardware is good but not perfect due to the sub-par camera quality in less than perfect light conditions.
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Overall the Notion Ink Adam is a great tablet computer. It is one of the first tablet computers to feature the Tegra 2 chipset from Nvidia which provides a very fluid user experience as well as outstanding 3D gaming on the tablet. Many users were upset with earlier versions of the Adam operating system, but with the introduction of Honeycomb, many of the previous problems have been resolved.
While using the Adam with Honeycomb, the product feels well polished and functional. The build quality of the hardware is solid considering the low price point of the Adam (base models are as low as $350). The swivel camera and unlocked 3G support make this tablet a step ahead of other tablets in the same price range.
In conclusion, the Notion Ink Adam is a good product. Flaws with the camera, the lack of full screen flash support and some minor bugs in the operating system keep it from being an excellent product. Fortunately most of the flaws with the Adam are software based, thus with a little polishing this product could go from good to excellent in the future. As the Notion Ink Adam stands, it is a very functional tablet which makes mobile computing and multi-tasking a breeze. The interface is pleasant, the device is quick and responsive and it is loaded with ports, a hot swappable keyboard & mouse support (including wireless) and even 3G. The Notion Ink Adam is a great tablet computer and comes at a very fair price.