My much delayed review of the Adam tablet from Notion Ink is finally here. I needed some time to get the hang of Android so it did take a good few weeks (3 to be exact), but I gotta tell you, once you get the hang of it, its totally worth it.
If you hadn’t read my preview write up of the tablet an year back, please do so as it covers almost everything I wished the tablet should have. Having said that, lets get straight to business.
So, did they deliver as promised? Is the tablet up to the mark? Would it be future proof?
Answering the questions at one straight go is like, in a way, impossible. Frankly, I am hesitant but at the same time encouraging. There are a few areas of concern that needs to be really ironed out by them, and if thats done in perfect time (which they never seemed to have kept), I believe this has the potentialilty to be the best of the devices out there at the moment.
It was a rough ride to this point, numerous people in the pre-order list failing to get the devices delivered to them on time, a few faulty hardwares, (still) crashing softwares, battery inconsistency, bad packaging and stuff like that. I was on pre-order list 2, and I guess the company learnt from the first round of mistakes dumped down on them and corrected it by the second round as I did get my tablet as promised, only delayed by a week or so. But again, that wasn’t the case for everybody.
Anyways, when the PixelQi screened Wifi Adam tablet finally arrived home, I was riddled with goosebumps on every touch of its plastic surface. Got to tell you, the hardware is pinch perfect. The deal is sturdy and strong and I even shook it to see if there were any loose hearings. 😛 .I gingerly switched it on, waited through the boot screen and was invited to enter my date and time. Everything seemed good. The touch response was great, the speed was good too. The interface was ok, just decent( but I went on to make it better by installing ADWLauncher that I got from the internet, then the crisp smoothness with help from the graphics card comes into practice). Then popped up the panels or Leaves, as they called it.
Navigating the panels seemed a bit hard. There are a few things you need to understand first hand. You have to click on a panel and THEN you get the access onto it. I thought every layer and panel was active at the same time. And when you double tap the Clock at the top left of the main leaf, you get to access the ‘desktop’ where all the apps lay side by side or in ‘grid’ format.
But after a while, things seemed to pick up. There were just some basic apps- a Mail’d email client, a Facebook panel, Calendar, Calculator and Sniffer, their file browser. You could move an app to the panel to create a Leaf view, but those were only the apps that supported Leaf view, so instead you get options to use the apps in full screen mode. Scrolling between the panels were smooth. One thing I noticed was, once you set all your apps and stuff on Leaf view and panels, after you switch the device off and bring it on after sometime, the stuff set are all gone. Why? I dunno.
The next thing I did was getting connected to the WiFi network, and things were pretty smooth and fast and I was up in no time. The stock browser is nicely done, but it did tend to crash at times. Typing on the touch screen keyboard was pretty basic too, widely spaced keys, lots of actions, it was pretty responsive but I did notice that some times the keys did fail to comply on one touch. I am trying other keyboards at the moment, and according to some guys at a few forums, there are better keyboard layouts than this one.
I synced my email on to the Mail’d client. Repeating again, everything looked good at first, then I noticed a few issues. Ok, the email comes in, you can read it, send replies, access folders and stuff. But thing is, it sometimes fails to sync those few changes you do, with the main server, like marking an email as read, or deleting it. That means, whatever I did in Mail’d failed to show up in my Gmail access in my PC browser. I had marked a single mail as spam 3 times in the Adam (cuz I was with it for so long that I failed to recognize that I was marking the same mail as spam over and over again every time it synced with the main server). I guess after that I stopped using Mail’d. Its just a software issue and once they put an update, I might return to it, unless I get to install Gmail app on the device that is.
Flash was working pretty well, I had installed flash from a freeware website before hand. So Youtube’ing and video streaming in general was pretty good. Sounds were crisp and loud, at times tended to feel like high treble, so when you play music with high bass and stuff, you could hear heavy tearing.
I had installed a few basic and necessary apps that actually were combined to form the main reason that I bought the Adam. Reading. So I found FBreader, Aldiko and Amazon as the first ones to install. All of them worked pretty well, but in general, there is the QuickOffice app of course. Reading on Adam is awesome, especially when it comes to the light screen or automatic brightness setting or even the PixelQi (works best outdoors). Btw, I shifted apps from my PC to the tablet via USB, and installed them via Sniffer.
Experimenting upon apps showed me the current situation of Android for tablets. There is no Android Market access so we have to settle for alternatives. And taking apps from the net has a warning tag; they are made for phones. So aligning the screen size is at times a failure. There are a few apps that worked. And a few that crashed. And using alternative market sources like SlideMe, and OpenLeaf gave me respite from the fact that I would have been dead bored without Market Access, even though the quality of softwares and its range itself are limited. Lets wait and see what happens. And if that doesn’t sound like fun (how would it), there are various options (from forums) of rooting the tablet without voiding the warranty. This way you get Market access and all the Google tools get to be installed.
I will write up another article on which all softwares I installed and will source them so you guys can download and try them too.
One software worth mentioning is the RockPlayer movie player I tried. Playback over major codecs were supported and worked off the mark. Forwarding or shifting the timeline of the video was such a bliss that there is no actual delay. This is in fact brought in by the switching hardware and software codec support to the player. And watching a movie on the Adam is pretty good too. Some people complained about the screen lacking clarity and looking washed out when its a PixelQi, but frankly, I find it more than fine both indoors and outdoors where it is actually awesome.
Coming to the other side of the coin, the tablet failed to detect my hard disks. This became clear when I understood that Android doesn’t have native NTFS support. So I guess its wait for an update? Or move for the BeastROM or StephenH Rom (one of those many android roms that support NTFS). Notion Ink had stated that 32GB of Fat32 formatted hard disks can be connected and used. I did that too, and its still not working. Though there are some guys who tried upto 500 GB NTFS on ROMS.
When I connected a USB drive, you could access it pretty well and run through everything. BUT, there wasn’t a ‘Safely Remove Device’ option. So every time I connected a USB drive, I had to shut the system off to remove it ‘cuz if I removed it if the device was running, EITHER the tablet would restart or I would lose files on the usb drive. I learnt this from experience and it wasn’t a fun prospect. What a Bummer! :-/
You will quickly run out of the 8GB drive space (of which 5.5 GB is actually available) that you get with the device, so I recommend you to get an Micro SDHC card. 8 GB to 32GB is available in the market, but they tend to be pretty expensive even though they might sound worth it. I am still to buy a card myself.
On the camera side, its a 3.2MP supported by a basic software, nothing fancy about it. But beware, when you take pictures with it initially it would be unclear. This is because of two layers of protective film on the camera lens. The swivel of the cam is smooth but has a slight plastic-y feeling to it, So don’t dare use too much pressure when toying it around.
As for the battery, I am still to see 6+ hours on the color mode. On PixelQi mode with WiFi, browsing, reading and stuff, I hit 12 hours, so that’s pretty decent. But its the color mode that hasn’t delivered to promise; they said it would be 8-10 hours, I get 4.5 – 6. :-/ on full use.
One thing I am impressed was that the device never heated up to the level that causes concern. After hours of reading and browsing and movie watching, I never felt that the back or rather, any part of the device heated up. This is a good plus.
Overall, aside from these niggling software issues, I would say the Adam is awesome. Everything can be corrected by an update or two. The stock OS isn’t so much fun as it has its problems, but I have seen rooted and well configured Adams running with superb performance, on par to Apple’s IPad graphical response. Oh, and on comparison with the other tablets in the market, I gotta say Adam has the best hardware, but its the software issues thats bringing it down. Correct them, and you got yourselves something to boast about. On a random comment, Rohan Shravan (CEO of Notion Ink) had claimed that the current Adam users shouldn’t worry about updates and even device upgrades as we are all ‘future-proof’. So that’s something good to think about and probably hang on to.
Google hasn’t promised Honeycomb (Android 3.0) support yet, so its would take a while of waiting to see the true potential of Adam, with the stock (future update supported) OS I mean.
One thing, I am addicted to Angry Birds… 😀