Notion Ink’s Adam
For the past year I have been keeping track of one of the most interesting tech gadgets to come along in a very long while. At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, after three long years in development, the final product was shown off. A tablet computer so fresh, so innovative, so full of truly new ideas, that it puts even Apple’s highly celebrated iPad, to complete shame. I give you, Notion Ink’s Adam.
As I sit here reading back over most of what I have written on this post, it reads not like a post at all, but more like a professional article at the Times, or like an encyclopedia entry or something – the exact opposite of the open, honest and spin free nature I wanted this blog to be about. So I deleted half of what was there, and the other half, I’m currently rewriting. The Adam is truly an amazing bit of tech. Notion Ink, a startup from India comprised of little more than eager college grads who designed the Adam, are setting the tech world on it’s head. Unlike just about every tablet computer currently on the market and coming to market soon, the Adam’s design is focused on what can be done with the Adam, as much as what is under the hood. Under the hood, the specs read pretty much like every tablet coming to the market in 2011:
- 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9-based processor
- 3D capable graphics processor
- 1GB of RAM
- Record and playback video in 1080p
- high resolution screen
- a multi-megapixel camera for snapping photos, video and video chat
- running on a next generation smartphone OS (in this case, Google’s Android)
But that is pretty much where the similarities between Adam and all of the competitors begins and ends. Adam brings along with it an entire battalion of innovative tech, software and concepts that not only will allow the user to get so much more use out of an Adam, than they can out of any other tablet in the foreseeable future, but no other tablet expected to arrive in 2011 has anywhere near any of these innovations in place.
How about I give you the short list of what some of this incurs:
- As you can see in the photos, the design of the tablet allows for the use of one side to function as a “handle” – does not matter if you are a righty or lefty, the image on screen will adjust itself to accommodate both, and the “handle” is even rubberized, to offer greater comfort and grip
- staying with the one feature (the “handle”), note that when sitting flat on a surface, say a table or desk, the “handle” aligns the Adam at an angle that makes it not only easy to read from a sitting or standing position next to the surface, but also is angled for typing on the Adam’s virtual keyboards.
- the very same “handle” also offers space on the inside of the Adam, to play a large 3-cell, 24.6Whr battery just like those found in laptop computers; not the much smaller batteries found in every other tablet on the market
- still on the “handle”, as can be seen in the photos, speaker placement is on either side of the “handle”, giving true 3D spatial audio presence (ie. true stereo sound, that sounds like true stereo sound, and can be matrixed out using SRS to properly replicate 5.1 sound), a feature no other tablet has
- the “handle” also happens to be large enough to embed large, 1 watt speakers, giving the Adam superior sound quality to any other tablet anywhere
- and finally, the “handle” features Adam’s 3.2 megapixel, auto focus camera, which literally rotates in the handle 185 degrees, a feature that allows for perfect alignment of the camera for any purpose a user could need the camera from, so no matter how the Adam is sitting, or being held, you can always perfectly fit your subject into the shot, whether your are taking a photo, filming some video, engaged in video chat, or maybe just a student in class filming the professor’s lecture, adjust the camera to the angle needed, and Bob’s your uncle.
All of those innovations, that not a single other tablet on the market have anything remotely like in their design, are all based around a single design innovation, and represent just the tip of the iceberg to what the Adam brings to the table. The list of Adam’s innovations go on and on. I’ll give you a few more just because is so much fun:
- The Adam is the only tablet currently available that features Pixel Qi’s 3Qi screen technology, which allows you to continue to use the Adam in any lighting situation, even in direct sunlight like it was an ereader – you can even watch video in direct sunlight. Not even the highly vaunted Retina Display can accomplish that feat . . . and neither can Super AMOLED or Super LCD for that matter. Not only is the 3Qi screen capable of remaining completely functional even in direct sunlight, but conserves battery power whenever the ambient light is great enough to support using the screen without the backlight
- Even thought Adam has a dual-core Tegra 2 processor, the Adam is the only tablet that will turn off one of it’s cores to conserve battery life when both cores are not needed for use to perform duties; the moment the second core is needed, the Adam automatically turns that core back on until it is not needed again.
- Adam’s Eden UI, a custom user interface Notion Ink built on top of Android, is designed to multi-task as 20 or more apps, even intensive apps like HD video playback, without slowing down the system. No other tablet on the market is designed multi-task on such a level. And best yet, the Eden UI allows you to kill any app and see the system resources instantly returned to the system.
- The Eden UI allows the user to have direct access to three apps simultaneously at all times.
- Until it is necessitated by the user, Adam runs all apps in a lower power state than other tablets. Once again, this conserves battery life, as well as allows for greater multitasking
- Notion Ink spent an insane amount of time finding a material to create a matte finish screen for Adam, that would not scratch. Matte screens are something that should be an essential in tablets and cellphones, as they do not glare in sunlight, the present colors more accurately, and they do not fingerprint up. Finding a matte screen material that would not scratch is a Herculean feat, which no other consumer electronic company has bothered to take on.
- Adam has a dedicated GPS on board, most other tablets are only using the inferior aGPS
- The Adam’s endo-skeleton is compose of aircraft grade magnesium and aluminum alloys, making the Adam very light weight, yet very sturdy and durable
- The Adam has a built in USB host, meaning that if a printer, mouse, keyboard or any other USB device can function on Android, Adam will recognize it and utilize it when it’s plugged into any of the three USB ports on the Adam. No other tablet has a full USB host on board.
- The Adam can also function as a WiFi-enabled digitizer tablet for your Windows PC. Bet you can’t guess how many other tablets can do that? If you guessed none, then you are catching on.
- Unlike every other tablet maker out there, Notion Ink designed the Adam to be easily opened by the user and upgraded like it was a desktop computer. Meaning, that instead of having to buy Adam 2, Adam 3, and so on, Adam users need only to buy the better parts inexpensively, and upgrade to Adam 2, Adam 3, and so on, on their own.
- Starting at $375, the Adam costs hundreds less than any other 10″ tablet on the market – that’s right, Notion Ink managed to cram all these patented innovations and many more into the Adam, and still get it out the door for less than their competitor’s unsubsidized pricing.
I’m already at 1500 words, and I still could continue to go on with all the stuff that Adam does that no other tablet coming to market this year has even thought about – and this is just Adam 1. Notion Ink is already busy on their 2nd and 3rd generation Adam tablets. So while the rest of the mobile computing industry will spend the rest of 2011 trying to catch up to where Adam is now by 2012, Notion Ink will have moved on and innovated and patented an entirely new list features that the big guys simply did not have the creativity to think of doing. Right now in the tablet space, there are only two innovative companies: Apple and Notion Ink. And one look at Adam and it becomes readily apparent that Notion Ink is way out front in terms of innovation, when compared to iPad. Even the simplest of things, like where is the USB ports on the iPad, or where is the dedicated HDMI port on the iPad, or where is the memory card port on the iPad, or where is the multitasking on the iPad, where is the version of iOS customized for making using iOS on a 10″ tablet different, and more useful than a cellphone – you know simple things, many of which every mobile computing platform and device had on it seven years ago, why are these things missing on iPad? Oh wait a minute, Apple loves it when you have to pay extra to get those features added on separately . . . making your portable iPad a lot less portable once you plug all those expensive peripherals in. But Apple does not care so long as you faithfully continue to go broke spending all your money with their company. So while the rest of the CE industry blindly spent the whole of 2010 making devices to catch up with iPad, Notion Ink was ten steps ahead, making a platform that could outperform the iPad in every way imaginable – now it’s Apple trying to play catch up to Notion Ink, and something tells me that Apple is never going to be able to catch to Notion Ink. In many respects, Notion Ink is to Apple, what Apple is to Microsoft. Right now, Notion Ink is just a small company out of India with less than 100 employees. But give them another five to ten years, and they have the opportunity to become one of the biggest consumer electronic firms out there. The innovation, drive, ambition and vision are certainly there in spades. The way things are going, it is only a matter of time before Notion Ink is the better of just about every other named brand tech company you have ever had the displeasure of being overcharged by.