I’ll start off with one of my favorite tablets from the show, the Notion Ink Adam. Out of India, the Adam has been highly anticipated ever since Notion Ink’s coming out party during last year’s CES. I met with Notion Ink this year, and I got a chance to play with one of the first production Adams, this one being Rohan Shravan’s personal unit. Rohan is Notion Ink’s founder and CEO, and I was lucky to have him on hand to walk me through the ins and outs of the Adam. It’s a 10” Tegra 2-based tablet running Froyo, but it has a number of innovative touches, like the transreflective Pixel Qi display, the 185-degree rotating 3.2MP camera, the 1 watt speaker at each end, USB flash drive support, and a full-size HDMI port.

But the part I’m most excited about in all of this is Eden, Notion Ink’s very thorough reskinning of Android 2.2. It’s by far the most interesting Android skin I’ve used to date, in that it completely changes the way Android feels and behaves. The home screen is made up of a number of “panels”, which are independent on-screen windows of various applications, so you can have a view of your inbox, your calendar, an RSS feed, and more opened on the home screen. Overall, the UI is very vibrant and colourful, with smartly designed applications for email, calendar, weather, media playback, and other basic functions. The application launcher, which opens as a red ribbon across the screen, is a nice touch, as is the included scientific calculator. The two highlights, though, have to be the reworked browser and the excellent on-screen keyboard. The browser is built for multi-tab browsing, and switching between different tabs is quicker here than on any mobile device in recent memory. I didn’t get a chance to take any UI pictures because we were outdoors, so I’m going to post some of the screenshots from the Notion Ink blog.

In hand, the Adam is surprisingly good. The chassis is made of plastic and never lets you forget that, so it doesn’t have the premium feel that the iPad does, but there isn’t a lot of flex, and for a first design effort, it’s pretty exemplary. The rubber grip on the right side combined with a cylindrical edge makes the device very comfortable to grip, and Notion Ink has evenly distributed the weight to make it easier to hold. I do have to commend the fact that it’s all matte - the body, the display, everything. In this age of overglossing every surface you can (Samsung, Dell, I’m referring to you guys), it’s really refreshing to see someone have the guts to make a matte device. Less glare, less fingerprints, how could you disagree with that? The other great thing is that transreflective display. It’s monochromatic, but it’s absolutely great in the sun and makes for an awesome e-reader. In practice the UI is quick and pretty sleek, it’s one of the better Android tablet experiences on the market currently and probably will be until Honeycomb releases in a few months.

Notion Ink has started shipping out the first batch of Adams last week, after getting the final FCC approval. There’s only two options - the transreflective Pixel Qi display and the 3G modem, so there are four distinct models at launch. I’m hoping to get a review unit from Notion Ink in the next couple of weeks, but our first impressions show that they’ve definitely got one of the more innovative and promising new tablets on the market.

CES 2011: Tablet Roundup Hands-On: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
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  • KLC - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    You say the UI of the Notion Ink is colourful but later you say the transreflective display is monochromatic. You call it the Adam but the photo gallery calls it the Eden.
  • zebrax2 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Adam is the tablets name while Eden is the name of the UI.
  • vol7ron - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Why are all the tablets so small? Why can't they introduce something slightly bigger than the iPad. I'd like an 8x11.5 screen.
  • softdrinkviking - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    i think the issue is that larger tablets are a bit too cumbersome when you actually start using them.
    the bigger, heavier size ones are uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, and they don't really prop-up well by themselves like a laptop.

    they probably did test groups and people whined about the bigger ones. maybe they figured over 10" might as well be a laptop.
  • metafor - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    I believe the Notion Ink is a dual-mode display. When in reflective mode (e-reader), it's monochromatic. When it's back-lit, it functions as an LCD.
  • tipoo - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Its a hybrid display, its a colour LCD like the iPad and other tablets, but it can also become a e-ink display like the Kindle.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Just because a few million dumb yuppies can afford to throw away $500+ on a tablet does not mean there is a market for a bunch of cheap knockoffs that just happen to not be cheap at all. These things are way way WAY too expensive for what they are. They offer nothing above and beyond what you can get with an ipod touch. If they cannot bring it to market for $149 or lower it is a waste of time. If they think they're gonna get away with charging $500 I hope they all go out of business.
  • HibyPrime1 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    It doesn't matter if they're too expensive for what they are, thats pretty much how all new things in the tech world start out. Remember before the iPad was released everyone was expecting it to be $800-1200?

    Besides, tablets are a legitimate alternative to a laptop for those that aren't using it as a productivity tool. These tablets have productivity apps, but really thats kind of a misnomer with these things.

    I can't for the life of me understand why you say they don't offer anything above and beyond an iPod touch? It literally takes a half second glance to see that they are very different form factors. The screen size is the main selling point of a tablet vs ipod touch/smart phone.

    With all that said, I don't think this form factor will last all that long. I think Motorola has the right idea with the Atrix, in my opinion that is the future of mobile computing.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    They are bigger than an ipod but the screen resolution is the same, or less. So all you're getting for twice the price is the ability to hold it 1 foot further away. That's retarded. Anyone who spends $200 to hold something 1 foot further away needs to have their job outsourced to a monkey.
  • maxhdrm - Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - link

    Are you kidding me? It sounds like YOUR job has already been outsourced to a monkey by the lack of research you have done. I have a Velocity Micro Cruz color eReader with tablet functionality that I bought @ best buy for $99. Sure, it is only 800X600 but not that far from the Ipod touch. The Samsung Galaxy...600X1024 WSVGA, Props goes to Ipad for the one of the highest but C'mon there are plenty that will be the Ipod touch and yah it is nice to read an eBook that isn't in a 2pt font or having to scroll all over the touch.

    Moreover, while I am at it why in hell would I want something bigger than 7"? A 10" tablet is the same size as a netbook why not just sticks with a netbook for a cheaper price and way more functionality. IMO 7" is a good form factor and just because the price isn't insane doesn't mean it's crap. It’s called research. More places like fry's are putting out demos so consumers can interact with said tablets. Apple aside...EVERYONE is running android so it comes down to the "perks" that a tablets puts in, which ones you like and the openness of the tablet.

    This leads me to my biggest concern. As so many forums have posted about Samsung (mainly Verizon phones) phones running android, just how easy is it going to be to update these devices to the newest OS or is the industry "sucker punching" consumers by only allowing us to update via a newer device? Google needs to pass these updates along and ALL tablet device makers need to be allowed accessibility for OS updating.
    This should be every consumers concern otherwise they will sneek this under the radar

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