Notion Ink Adam: Pricing and more

Aug 12, 2010
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In part one of our Notion Ink feature, we looked at the reasons for the delay in production of the Adam slate. Happily the company didn't rest on their laurels while investor and ODM issues were ironed out. After the cut, details of hardware and software changes - including Notion Ink's take on iTunes - plans for Adam's launch and pricing for all four versions, and what's down the line in terms of follow-up hardware.

Where Adam initially was expected to ship with WiFi b/g, that's now been replaced with WiFi b/g/n. Perhaps better still, rather than A-GPS, all versions of the slate - irrespective of wireless connectivity - will have true GPS. That's been a key complaint about the non-3G iPad, and something we're pleased to see Notion Ink address.  However, a trusted source we've spoken to who recently left the company tells us that the rotating camera has also been finessed, increasing its play from 180- to 185-degrees.  That might not sound like much, but it's enough to ensure that while typing on Adam as it's flat on a table, the camera can still see the user rather than just the ceiling.  There's also apparently support for debugging, OS upgrades and more via a miniUSB port.

The software engineers weren't idle either. While Notion Ink originally expected their custom UI to debut on the second-generation Adam slate, the delay allowed them to complete it in time for the first model. We had hoped to show you screenshots, but the company is still working on securing patents; they can't publicly reveal them until that process is complete.

Thanks to our source, though, what we can tell you is that Adam will come with a content store called Genesis, described to us as "a high end variant on iTunes".  Genesis integrates the Application Store, Content Store, Media Player, Book Indexer and "a lot more"; there'll be "millions" of ebook titles at rates said to be priced "aggressively".  Meanwhile there will be a lot of preloaded applications, counterparts of many of which (from third-parties) can be found on the iPad.  That will include a drawing and sketching tool that's said to be "beautiful", Notion Ink's special next-generation email system which "can be used by an organization to secure, save and transmit data using their own servers" and a unique identification number coded to each Adam which can be used to track it worldwide.

The tablet will also come with Unreal Engine Support, preloaded with a few games titles (that are yet to be launched) from NVIDIA.  Meanwhile, Notion Ink has around 90 major US developers and 17 in India registered - in total around 340 accounts - looking to create software for Adam; our source says the company has not yet shared their SDK, but that the third-party devs are aware of the UI designs and multitasking concepts they'll need to incorporate.

As for that multitasking, we're told that it takes great advantage of Android's theoretical ability to run limitless numbers of apps simultaneously, held back only by CPU and memory.  Rather than the "menu key long press" used to trigger the app switcher on current Android phones, Notion Ink has supposedly come up with a system that allows interaction with all apps at the same time.  Meanwhile there'll be Android Market access, together with a complete office suite with a custom skin to suit tablet use, rather than the third-party office apps currently available for Android.

Four versions of Adam will be launched: each will use NVIDIA's Tegra 2, but there will be Pixel Qi and LCD models and a choice of WiFi-only or WiFi and 3G. The company has confirmed that all will come in under the cost of a basic iPad; our source tells us that the LCD version will cost $399 for the WiFi-only and $449 for the 3G model, while the Pixel Qi version will cost $449 for the WiFi-only and $498 for the 3G model.  We've also heard that, if Notion Ink can clinch a last minute deal they're working on, a further $25 could be shaved from each of those figures, plus there will be special discounts for universities and students.  [Update: Notion Ink CEO Rohan Shravan has confirmed the pricing we heard]

Notion Ink Adam prototype demo:

As for launch dates themselves, it's very much dependent on FCC certification. With manufacturing set to begin in early November, Notion Ink plan to submit Adam to the FCC either that month or early December; their testing can take anything between two weeks and twelve weeks, meaning there's a November 2010 to January 2011 window in which the tablet could be launched. If approval is secured in November, they tell us, they'll be shipping Adam by air to hit US shelves as soon as possible. If approval doesn't come through until January, however, then the retail launch will be at CES 2011, a year after the first prototype made its debut.

Although Notion Ink expect to release Adam in the US first, their Indian launch will only be 1-2 weeks later. After that, they'll look to other countries; the exact details are unknown, but given the online ordering system we're assuming that as long as there is a means to ship Adam, you'll be able to order it. Previously Notion Ink has said they'll be able to feasibly produce 100,000 units per month, should there be the demand for it.

Meanwhile, as Adam approaches the virtual shelves, Notion Ink has unsurprisingly been looking at their subsequent models. Adam 2 is expected to use NVIDIA's as-yet-unannounced Tegra 3 chipset and run Android 3.0 Gingerbread; with the SoC itself yet to be confirmed, there's only a vague launch window of Q2 to Q3 2011 when Adam 2 could debut. Google is yet to confirm requirements for Gingerbread, but Notion Ink tells us that they're doing as much as they can to ensure first-gen Adam owners can upgrade.

The eagle-eyed may have spotted the company's second sequel on the timeline, currently known as the Notion Ink Eve. Unfortunately they won't be drawn on what exactly Eve is, beyond saying it's "a completely new concept". We've heard rumors of a Notion Ink smartphone - their experience with Android and existing team of developers would put them in a strong position in terms of the software, certainly - but we'll have to wait a while before we find out for sure what Eve is.

You can find more information on Adam at the company's official blog.


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