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May 31, 2011

REVIEW: Notion Ink Adam Tablet

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Written by: sean
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We’ve long be awaiting the tablet that frees us from the surly bonds of the laptop — a game-changer, if you will. The Notion Ink Adam tablet set out to be that device but, unfortunately, falls way short.

Notion Ink Adam

Notion Ink Adam

The most appealing aspect of Notion Ink’s device is its fantastic USB and HDMI support. With two full-size USB 2.0 ports and one full-size HDMI port, connectivity-wise, the Adam is the closest you’ll get to a laptop in the body of a tablet. The Adam recognizes and utilizes USB keyboards and mice very well, which is a welcome feature in a world where expensive, proprietary peripherals weigh heavily on our wallets.

But don’t go tossing your notebook in the trash just yet, for here be monsters.

The connectivity of the Adam is a big plus, but it has its downside. Attached to those USB and HDMI ports is a huge upper bezel that toes a very dangerous line between “unique” and “ugly” and hampers the portability of the device. While noticeably larger in size than many of the tablets in its class, the screen is still just 10 inches, which is also curious..

To its credit, the Adam does sport a Pixel Qi 3Qi display, which allows users to switch off the tablet backlight in favor of lighting the screen with sunlight. It’s a feature that’s meant to save on battery life, which it does marginally well. But the tradeoff is a screen with atrocious viewing angles, and when considering the Adam’s poor battery life to begin with, it’s just not worth the concession. To make matters worse, the matte finish that’s a necessity to viewing the tablet in direct sunlight must be applied in the form of a screen-protector-like decal that, while included in the box, feels like a complete afterthought.

While most new tablets have both front-facing and rear-facing cameras, Notion Ink has opted for a single camera that can swivel into either position. At 3.2 megapixels, it’s on one hand nearly twice as good as most front facing cameras but, on the other hand, carries roughly half the resolution of the more advanced rear-facing cameras. The pivot mechanism has a poor build quality as well, which makes the whole feature seem like another afterthought.

For an operating system, Notion Ink chose Android 2.2 (Froyo) but completely overhauled it for a custom experience they’ve dubbed the Eden UI. The cornerstone of Eden is Panel View, a home screen alternative that allows users to view multiple running applications at once as if using several Android phones side by side. While this feature is certainly a step in the right direction for the next generation of multitasking, it’s currently limited to only a few apps and has more than its fair share of bugs — applications must force close far too often, and the tablet itself will sometimes go black and reboot without warning.

Lastly, the Notion Ink Adam tablet features a Webkit browser with a tabbed Web viewing experience. In theory, this feature would make the Adam the tablet with the most desktop-like Web browsing experience, but in practice the folks at Notion Ink have fallen just short again. Bugs and force closes are wildly apparent, and multiple tabs seem to curiously overwhelm the device fairly easily.

We respect Notion Ink for trying to advance the tablet in new directions with the Adam, but taking a risk and having said risk pay off are two entirely different things. Perhaps with a bit more development of its Eden UI and some general improvements to the overall build quality of its tablets, Notion Ink will be the company that makes our laptops a thing of the past. But they’re certainly not going to convince us with the Adam.

• USB, HDMI connectivity
• Tabbed Web browsing

• Shoddy camera
• Major display issues
• General OS bugs



  • Thickness: ~14 mm
  • Width: 191 mm
  • Length: 269 mm
  • Weight: ~1.6 pounds


  • NVIDIA Tegra 250
  • Dual Core Cortex A-9


  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 1GB SLC
  • 8 GB Flash
  • Micro-SD Card support


  • 3 cell 24.6Whr battery


  • 10.1″ WSVGA (1024 x 600)
  • Optional Pixel Qi display with Matte Coating: Transmissive, transflective, and reflective modes
  • Multi-touch
  • Anti-glare coating
  • Scratch resistant
  • Finger-print resistant


  • 3.2 MP Auto Focus Swivel


  • WLAN – 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • WWAN – 3G HSPA


  • Stereo loudspeakers
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Built in microphone


  • USB 2.0 Host x 2
  • Mini USB
  • HDMI
  • Micro SD slot
  • SIM Card slot
  • DC connector


  • 3-Axis accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
  • GPS
  • Digital Compass

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