I must say, I have mixed feelings about this product. I bought the Adam Tablet for very light general purpose computing as well as for reading papers and taking notes. The screen is an obvious match! Here's my take:
My tablet configuration: Pixel Qi/Wi-Fi
- The screen!
It is unbelievable how usable this tablet is in all sorts of environments! It is excellent for reading! The backlight is also very soft on the eyes when it is on. Luckily, the Adam Tablet automatically adjusts the backlight depending on the environment. I also like the idea of being able to doodle notes and equations with it. One cannot do this with eInk displays as these display at 1 frame-per-second. If you try doodling on the Sony reader, for example, you'll notice just how laggy that sort of display is.
But please note that when the backlight is off, color is mostly absent. And you do need bright ambient light to clearly see the screen contents when the backlight is off. Here bright ambient light is considered to be anything from direct or indirect sunlight, whether noon, dawn, dusk, cloudy or clear.
- Host USB ports!
These are a rarity in tablets. It is very convenient to be able to use a USB thumb drive! I can also see use of a USB keyboard useful under some rare circumstances.
- HDMI port
This too is a rarity in tablets! I can plug this device into a projector and give presentations! Under some rare circumstances, I might even want to plug it into a display.
EDIT: With QuickOffice, which ships with Adam Tablet, it's possible to play Power Point and PDF slide shows without issue. It seems to work with all my presentations, but I can't promise it will always work properly.
- Swiveling Camera
I could use this to record talks or lectures! It's very easy to use with the provided 'Camera' app.
This tablet can smoothly play video formats that would easily choke other netbooks/tablets (even the venerable iPad). VERY IMPRESSIVE.
- The software!
A device is as useful as the software that runs on it. A stock Adam Tablet has no access to Market and thus, very limited usability. There is only a handful of applications that ship with it. This thing should be packed with more applications than this ...
Indeed, it is possible to get Android Market on the Adam Tablet ... but would you expect granny to be able to hack her tablet? This is a huge black eye to Adam Tablet. A stock Adam Tablet is a useless brick for anyone wanting to do anything more interesting than browsing simple websites (it doesn't even ship with flash) and reading/editing documents.
Luckily, software can be fixed! Everyone should expect initial releases to contain bugs and limitations. Unfortunately, lack of Android Market in stock is unacceptable and potentially harmful to Notion Ink's reputation. But, I think they have a potentially bright future if they can at least patch this up quickly.
Oh, and especially notable is an occasionally unstable browser ... that's to be expected for a new product. Again, if Android Market were available, one could find an alternative browser very easily.
For those who do not have the wits to hack their Adam Tablet (though it is very simple), Opera will allow you to download the Opera Mini Browser apk installer directly from their site (no market needed!)
EDIT: Aside of hacking your Adam Tablet, I read that a work around is to "side-load" the apks. You can download application apks here:
Sound is decent, but it's not the best. My phone plays music with higher quality.
It seems impossible to play music in the background. If, for example, you play an mp3 with the built-in 'Music' app and then press the 'Home' button, it stops! This is unusual behavior since it's possible to play music in the background on Android phones. Maybe Notion Ink assumed that users don't multi-task. After all, who in their right mind would browse the web and listen to music simultaneously?
It seems impossible to stream real music formats (ogg doesn't count, no one uses ogg!). For example, I can browse the Shoutcast directory with Winamp and if I attempt to play a station, it tries to connect to the station and then simply does nothing (or sometimes displays a 'Failed to play stream' message). Realplayer also suffers the same problems. Android phones can play streams just fine with these applications.
These two media players are also strangely unable to read their own playlist formats (m3u, pls, and ram). They simply display an error message along the lines of 'Unknown format'. I think this is related to the way the built-in browser interacts with these applications.
EDIT: tune-in radio can stream music without issues. It can also use your location (as provided by GPS) to find and stream local stations. It's a very interesting app. It can also do this in the background!
Of particular note, audio recorded in a moving car strangely introduces clicks into the recording. Most people who have spoken with a friend in a moving car over the phone probably have never heard clicks in the conversation.
To single out the speakers or the microphone, I tried playing music in the moving car. I heard no such clicks. Hence, the clicks are introduced by either the microphone or the software.
When I got out of the car, recordings were normal (no clicks).
The camera isn't great. It's more like a webcam (probably its intended use). It works well enough, but don't expect to use it as, say, a camcorder for your child's first word. Also note that zoom is entirely digital ...
EDIT: This critique assumes you've removed the plastic wrap (but not the protective cover) from the lens. A brand new Adam is covered with plastic rap. I'm sure a lot of users have especially not noticed that the white edges are also covered with plastic wrap.
- The Buttons (EDIT addition)
The four buttons on the top-left are not illuminated. This makes it somewhat difficult to use at night. I'm sure this was a design oversight and perhaps will be fixed in future versions of Adam Tablet.
It's ironic that Notion Ink made a perfect product for the all sorts of ambient lighting conditions, but forgot about usage at night. The screen's soft backlight is perfect for night time use!
Fortunately, for those with the wits to hack their tablet, there is an Android ROM called VEGAn-TAB that includes the Home and Back buttons in a larger notification bar (the bar with the battery indicator). As these are Graphical User Interface (GUI) buttons drawn on the screen, they are visible at night with the rest of the screen contents.
This tablet has a superior hardware configuration hands-down. It gives you the best of both a reader and general purpose computer from a hardware point-of-view. I would go as far as to say that tablets with this type of screen really ought to supplant readers. Unfortunately, the software is severely lacking. Eden is a nice interface, but with relatively few packaged applications and the lack of the Android Market in stock is severely limiting this tablet's potential (and I'm sorry, but no one should be required to hack their device to get Market).
I think making Android Market available on stock is more important than porting Honeycomb to Adam ... at least, from the point-of-view of an unsuspecting oblivious user.
Do I think it's worth it? Heck yeah! I love using it to read papers and I look forward to using it to doodle notes. Once I got Android Market, I could also use it to do other mundane tasks. However, I still haven't figured out how to listen to music in the background ... But software can be fixed later.