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Motorola Xoom vs Notion Ink Adam: Two of the Best

Motorola Xoom vs Notion Ink Adam: Two of the Best

We’ve been bringing you tons of news from CES 2011 and one of the biggest stories this year has been the tablet device. There have been a plethora of new devices shown but two which have really caught the interest have been the Motorola Xoom which will be the first tablet to run on Android 3.0, Honeycomb, and the Notion Ink Adam, the enigmatic tablet that was finally revealed and has really captured people’s attention.

We’ve already posted several articles about these two devices including a hands-on look at the Motorola Xoom along with a post about it being voted CES ‘Best in Show’. Posts on the Notion Ink Adam have included a preview with video and also about the mystery feature being a radio. We think the two of these tablets will be major competition for all the others due out this year, including the BlackBerry PlayBook and the iPad 2.

So if we were to compare the Motorola Xoom vs. the Notion Ink Adam, which one would come out top? A useful article over on AndroidOS by Gaurav Shukla shows a comparison list of all the specs which makes things easier to digest. Although both Android tablets one of the significant differences is the OS as the Notion Ink Adam will run on Android 2.2 while the Xoom will be released running Android 3.0, Honeycomb. However the Adam will get upgrades to 3.0 in the future so that shouldn’t be too much of a drawback.

Both tablets use the NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip but the interface also differs as the Xoom will use the standard interface whereas the Notion Ink uses the Eden UI. Both tablets have the same 10.1-inch screen size but the Xoom has a higher resolution and the cameras are slightly different with the Notion Ink having a 3.2-megapixel while the Xoom has a 5-megapixel rear-facing along with a 2 mega-pixel front-facing camera. You can check out more on the specs at the AndroidOS link above.

If any of those things don’t settle it for you then it’s really all down to personal choice and which you like the look of best. The Notion Ink Adam is certainly viewed as an innovative device but of course the Motorola Xoom has the big guns behind it. Ross Miller on Engadget also reports on news sourced from Infobae, that the Xoom has a WiFi-only version which will become available in April, followed by the 3G version in May, although it’s not certain where those dates apply yet.

What are your thoughts on these two promising new tablets and if you were to choose which one would you opt for? We’d be interested to hear your comments about this so please do send them in.

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  1. Angel says:

    Notion Ink Adam tablet for me. The rubber grips make it cool to handle, 3 usb ports and the fact that they've been hyping up the ADAM for awhile now just makes me want that specific tablet. Motorola has had many failed products and devices. Notion Ink is a younger company that's just starting out and that makes them a "hungry" company, which will put out a quality built tablet. I'll stick with the Adam Tablet.

  2. jmagni says:

    You mention XOOMs higher resolution, but mention nothing of the Pixel Qi screen that can be purchased with the ADAM. The ADAM also comes with a WiFi only and a 3G version, as well.

    Finally, you fail to mention price whatsoever…. What will the XOOM cost…? Expectations are that it will be nearly a thousand dollars for the top model, while ADAMs top of the line-everything but the kitchen sink-model has already sold for only 550 plus shipping and it's lowest end comes in under 400…. I think people should have all the facts before being asked what they think….

    • Gart says:


      Pixel Qi? Price? Def. not fair to leave these very crucial facts out! Thanks for bring it up!

      FYI, not sure if there's an Adam vs. Xoom vid or not but there are a few really good ones on Adam vs. iPad on YouTube that are worth viewing. Thought I'd throw that out there :)

  3. Greg Taylor says:

    Here are just few more points to consider…

    The Notion Ink Adam also has the Pixel Qi display which improves battery life and makes it viewable everywhere. You can't see the screen very well on the Xoom (or other tablets) outdoors or in other places with bright ambient light, and the eInk mode of the Adam is easier on the eyes for long periods of book reading.

    So if you plan to use a tablet on the go, don't you think you should be able to see the display everywhere you go?

    And referring back to battery life, Adam is being reported to get about 16 hours with average use (YMMV). I do not know how long battery life is on the Xoom. And I don't think you can run Adam's batteries out between charges in eInk mode (assuming you charge every few days).

    And Adams unique shape lends itself very well to long periods of reading. It is easier to hold and feels lighter because heavier components like the batteries are in the wide end you hold when viewing in portrait mode. And I forgot to mention that Adam's batteries can be replaced by the end user! You don't have to send it in for repair if you ever need to replace the batteries. I bet Xoom (or most other tablets) can claim that.

    And the two speakers are on opposite ends of that wide tubular part of the tablet, creating true stereo sound. I'd be willing to bet the Adam's sound is much better than the Xoom because that was one of the areas Notion Ink focused on during development.

    Even though both have the same Tegra 2 processor, they probably won't perform the same. Both will be great, but Notion Ink has done some major tweaking to improve performance and manage battery life. I'm sure they will migrate their OS enhancement as they upgrade to Honeycomb.

    However, the move to Honeycomb may not be as much of an upgrade from what they have now because Notion Ink realized the shortcoming of Android 2.2/2.3 and created Eden to make up for it. Many of the features and improvements of Honeycomb are already implemented in Adam's custom OS and UI. But once they move to Honeycomb they will have the best of both worlds.

    One thing that is important for people to keep in mind is that the Eden UI has been "added" and does not "replace" the stock Android UI. You can still use the standard desktop navigation etc of Android. But once you learn the benefits of Eden I doubt you will want to. Eden adds so much and makes tasks fast and easy. It is different, but the learning curve is not too big.

    Anyway, there are tons of things to consider when comparing. I'm sure a lot of people will buy Xoom based solely on brand name. If you take time to learn about the Adam and why Notion Ink did what they did and what the benefits are of those decisions are, you will be able to make a much better informed choice. Both will be good tablets, but for me, the Adam is much better.

    One more bit of advice… As you make your decision, do not rely on brand name and specifications alone for comparisons (even though these two tablets are very close in that area). Specifications rarely tell the whole story. Keep an eye out for real life comparisons, side by side hands on reviews, and buyer/owner reviews.

    UPDATE: One more thing. Pricing! The 3G version of the Notion Ink Adam are sold unlocked for use with any carrier. You can bet that in order to buy Xoom at affordable prices you will get locked into a 2 year contract with mobile providers…. The most expensive version of the Adam is likely to be less expensive than the Xoom. We'll have to wait for Xoom pricing announcements to find out for sure.

    • joshualyon says:

      Your review is pretty biased and seems to be based mainly on conjecture… it sounds like people are drinking the NotionInk kool-aid pretty heavily. Don't get me wrong, I ordered a PixelQi Adam, but there are some pretty nice things about the Xoom that have me thinking twice:

      *Thinner bezels (the Adam bezels are thicker all around and the top part is huge)

      *The pixelQi display has fairly limited use compared to other tablets - it's really cool if you plan on using it outside. And the Adam I pre-ordered will have the pixelQi display, but I honestly don't see any use case for ME other than showing it off to other people. And the Xoom has a higher resolution display in the same size (which equates to higher pixel density).

      *Battery Life - there is ZERO data to back this up. I have not seen a single independent review of the Adam battery life. Much less the Xoom battery life. Most devices already have processor speed scaling built into them — it's not something magical that Rohan came up with. My Tegra2 Viewsonic G-tablet also has speed scaling. When I put it to sleep, it drops the processor down to one-core at 400 Mhz to handle emails and other background activity… when it hits heavy load and increases to full speed.

      *Weight distribution - this seems opposite of what you've said. The heaviest / largest part of the tablet is at the farthest part of the weight fulcrum when you hold it in landscape. This would lead to the device feeling slightly heavier. I don't think it will actually make a big difference, but it just seems odd that you are counting it as a benefit. If anything, the Xoom should have a more evenly distributed weight.

      *Processor Speed - While it does look like NI took advantage of the GPU when scrolling some of the leaves in the angled view, I saw some noticeable slow-downs and lockups when they were actually going in and out of full apps. It concerns me that most of the videos from NI showed just one or two apps at a time which ran OK. But in some of the video reviews that came out at CES there were some parts were Rohan kept tapping / swiping the screen but nothing would happen. I'm hoping they get these things cleaned up otherwise I will be reverting my Adam back to the Vanilla 2.2 / 2.3.

      *Eden Speed - similar to the comment above. It looks like they made some optimizations in some areas, but other areas had some lag in the independent videos. I'm running a ViewSonic G-tablet and they had the same issue. They put their tap-n-tap UI on to try to make things more tablet friendly and while they improved in some areas, it brought some major issues in others. I'm now running a custom ROM from XDA and the G-tablet is much faster than the stock ROM it came with. (note: the g-tablet is also Tegra2 based)

      • pratikhome says:

        You seem to have forgot the most important thing about Xoom i.e. nobody except Motorola has seen how Xoom feels on runs Android, forget about hands on. What Greg has pointed above has been pointed by many including some major techblogs and as of now most of it is based on hands on experience. Greg has not asked the readers to choose NI blindly, but to compare it with Xoom and make their own decision. And last but not least this is the first time a product has been made where inputs from would be users are given due importance which no other company did before. Give credit where it is due.

    • But will be able to load TABLET apps from the Android Market for this when avaiable? To me, that is the make or break deal on buying this. A private market for Adam apps is not acceptable.

      • notjustshinyobjects says:

        To quote a popular electioneering slogan from 2008: 'Yes We Can!'

        • billreyn1967 says:

          Well, you won't be able to download from the marketplace until Honeycomb comes out. Right now, Google doesn't allow marketplace on tablets without phone support. You can download the apps from the web and install them directly. I also think XDA will quickly have the market working on this.

  4. r n a says:

    adam for me

  5. Latur says:

    Greg! My boy!
    Your review was much better than this website's.

    You have shown that if you are doing a comparison, give both the products a fair comparison including all important specifications. This website's article fails to mention both price and technical details for the two devices, which according to me are two most important details.

    I personally like the ADAM more and my experience with MOTOROLA has been dismaying.

  6. arunur says:


    Quite a few points has been omitted in this comparison. Just wanted to bring them out to make this comparison a fair one.

    1. Adam has Pixel Qi version of LCD available as well. This enhances quite a few things like readability in bringht sunlight making it a good choice for people on the go and also the power control enabled by the e-ink mode of the PixelQi helps save quite a lot of power, increasing the battery to last for possibly days, which cant be matched by anything else in the market

    2. Audio. Almost all tablets, for that matter even many laptops do not care much about audio playback quality. Adam has been designed with this in mind, and should give the best audio quality with its two stereo speakers which are well placed.

    3. Battery. Adam battery can be user replaced unlike other tablets (including Xoom I bliv)

    4. Cam. I agree that it has a 3.2MP autofocus cam, unlike the 5MP in Xoom. But the swivel design aspect of the cam, makes its unique and very user friendly to take pix/vids while holding the Adam in any angle.

    5. The UI. Eden, developed by NI is the best available tablet interface. You could check out all the available vids in the internet. NI can leverage the extra ability offered by Honeycomb to enhance the Eden and make it a far superior UI experience.

    6. Availability of so many ports.

    7. Ergonomic design that allows to hold it without strain for longer periods of time.

    8. The passion that the NI team has shown it putting together something that is not some just-another-tablet. Pls read through the blog where for the first time in the history of the development of a high end gadget, the story behind almost every details was passionately explained to the potential customers and valuable feedback from them were taken and implemented.

    Before you make a decision based on a brand, do wait for all the indepth reviews to be available from the users and other professional gadget reviewers.

    Adam clearly stands apart and on top of others as of now.

  7. cyankahn says:

    It depends actually if notionink delivers on time and zoom delays then maybe. Although in us it seems zoom will triumph.

  8. Andy says:

    All notion ink lovers should report to and join the community. Let's show these peeps that you don't have to be big to do great things.

  9. debbielt says:

    As the writer of this article I do concede the point that some more details could have been concluded but is was intended as a general overview and comparison rather than an in-depth article. However I'd like to say that your comments are all greatly appreciated and it's always good to see a lively debate on any of our articles so thanks for reading!

    • billreyn1967 says:

      I understand that it is not meant to be in-depth. However, the NI camera swivels. Which is a big differentiator. Reading the way you have it, people don't know it swivels. So it makes the Xoom, with dual cameras, more attractive. With NI's method, you can have adam lying down and the camera angled to be recording something. You wouldn't have to be holding it up like the Xoom.
      This goes back to what other commentators have said. NI looked at the device and thought out better ways of doing things. Hopefully, other companies will take notice and put the same effort into their future devices.

  10. debbielt says:

    Plus there have been some great points added to our article by our venerable readers so thank again.

    • notjustshinyobjects says:

      Thanks for a fair overview Debbie. Would not mind checking back here later to see if you folks can manage some sort of a review for the final shipped product. Hope that happens. Thanks for the article nevertheless.

  11. notjustshinyobjects says:

    There is precious little to say in the manner of adding/improving on what Greg has so carefully compiled above. He is an expert when it comes to things-Adam, certainly outside the NI's core team itself! (If you think this is an exaggeration then please make a brief stopover to his pre-shipment fan support site: "")

    However, the crucial bit in his response comes when he says, ' you take time to learn about the Adam and why Notion Ink did what they did and what the benefits are of those decisions are, you will be able to make a much better informed choice.'

    Now this is important at a very fundamental level. For one, the Notion Ink (NI for short) team's decisions regarding features, design, software implementation, equitable pricing, openness in the Android ecological sense, and a whole host of other important areas - all decisions in these matters are radically innovative. In other words, what most companies would call 'features' are in fact important and often game-changing innovations in the NI's case.

    Just as a single example: the addition of 2 USB ports is a major advancement over current offerings. But wait, there is a mini-USB port as well. Now this is not mere feature-led raw muscle. Openness means that the Adam can be used in ways that its 1GB processor RAM would allow even its competitors to behave. Bring in the 'false digitizer'. My non-technical background may not be adequate to do justice to what a major gift/shift this is, so I will briefly (3:31) yield the floor to NI's CEO and Blogger-in-Chief, Rohan Shravan, himself. Please see NI's video explanation of the 'false digitizer' here:

    This is hardly the only exceptional way of doing things with NI. Similar such examples can easily be provided when it comes to side-loading applications in .APK, writing custom-made E-mail software (called Mail'd, see video here: ""), so on and so forth.

    These are not mere 'features' in the ordinary sense of the term. These are decisions. Innovative, open and productivity enhancing. Technology at its best!

    This brings me to the second, though I am sure not the final, radical departure in term's of Adam's philosophical reorientation: it has nothing in common with the iWhatever generation of best-sellers which dominated 2010. Yes, it is a 'tablet', but we call it that because Apple rightly got there first and unfortunately did everything that it could powerfully do, to define what a 'Tablet' according to its corporate vision should be. In three words: 'a Consumption Device'. In four words 'a Consumption Device ONLY'.

    Adam is anything but THAT! It has been designed with productivity features in mind. Where existing applications may not exist to match the huge iWhatever's store, developers have already been invited in an Early Access Program 1 (another EAP is in the works we are told). So with custom written, Android based software, significant productivity boosting features, like a camera that can be instantaneously swivelled to record a presentation/lecture live. Perhaps even broadcast it. With true multi-tasking, means that you can even make notes, annotate the lecture, check your e-mail, etc. etc. while you are using this 1.6 lb device!

    These are only a handful of such instances, perhaps idiosyncratically selected, but Greg's is a more systematic approach. The main point being made here is, that there is plenty about the Adam that makes it fundamentally a better, more advanced and more open a device than anything that has been offered/projected at the CES/beyond. I seriously doubt, for instance, as to what iWhatever-2 could do to reorientate its platform from 'Consumption Only' to the you-can-actually-use-it-for-things-that-you-may-want-to-do approach!

    Hence 'not-just-shiny-objects'.

    Please take the time out to catch a brief promo on the NI's website.

    And if you are impressed/intrigued, please click on the Tech. Specs. page. :


    Last but not the least, a shout-out to Debbie Turner and the OSM team: You folks had the guts to follow your journalistic ethics and make a good call. Way too many well known (can't say 'reputable really) media organizations (Wired, C-net, to name a few of the most egregious sorts) did just the opposite. Compiled impressive lists, based purely on an incestuous and myopic criteria of corporate malfeasance and lazy reportage!

    Perhaps OSM can try for a third party/independent review. 5+ hits on the NI blog tells me that the OSM portal may get some positive attention!

    Thanks OSM.

    • billreyn1967 says:

      Just a minor correction. With adam, you don't need to sideload! You can just download the .apk and install it. Just like installing on your computer. This is great to have until Honeycomb comes out and we get the marketplace. NI knew it would be a concern and took measures to remedy it. I have to wonder why big companies fail to notice what NI did notice?

      • readerwar says:

        Many people are referring to downloading and installing apk files as sideloading. That's what I gather anyway. I don't get the term sideload. It's a download and install or download through the market. Sideload is a a fancy word to confuse people.

        • billreyn1967 says:

          Sideloading is downloading from one device, putting it on another, and then installing. So, if you downloaded to your computer and then put it on adam, that would be sideloading. It's a hassle to do. I mean, you shouldn't have to go to the extra effort just to put something on a device. NI agrees with it.

      • notjustshinyobjects says:

        Thanks billeyn1967. My bad.

    • Varun says:

      My feelings about iWhatever are similar. It is such shut off device. The worst thing is lack of any USB port along with its limited hard drive capacity and no card slot. When you want to sell a particular product, branding it as a multimedia device there is definitely a need for extendable memory. Its is just a shiny gadget which can attract a lot of attention. I feel that is the whole philosophy of Apple. They have been fooling people with the sex appeal of their gadgets than any real functionality. All their devices are extremely user unfriendly.

    • awesomeTake says:

      Awesome post…
      I strongly implore all the SHMOOMS and i-watevers to take note of your comment.. before regurgitating any more BS thru the so called free media.

  12. John says:

    Am waiting for NI ADAM and I want to see how ADAM eats Apples and Xooms well with Vrooms…. :D

  13. I actually preordered the NotionInk Adam primarily for the Pixel Qi screen and battery life. I love reading books on electronic devices, but don't really want to carry around yet another item. I'm hoping the Pixel QI mimics e-ink enough to the point that reading books on it will be close to an e-ink reader - that and the battery life should be longer.

  14. What makes the decision easy for me is:

    Able to use it outside. Ease of use.
    Flash enabled. Ease of use.
    rubber handle for different environments. Ease of use.
    battery life. Ease of use.
    swivel camera (lay it down on a table or on a lap and video or picture without looking obvious). Ease of use.
    Large Panels to work on or view data. Ease of use
    Large bezel so that my clumsiness, large hands, or rush doesn't close or open a program at the wrong time. Ease of use.

    And there's actually more but I'm busy.

  15. Mundra says:

    ADAM Rocks !!! Nothing else in comparision.

  16. rthng says:

    For me:
    Motorola Xoom Pro:
    1280x resolution
    5mp Camera
    Honeycomb right off the bat + more big guns behind it
    smaller (less margin on the sides)

    Adam Pro:
    Pixel Qi (i read a lot, so its a big deal to have a screen that doesn't strain the eyes as much)
    2 USB ports (very useful i think)
    Longer battery life (16 hours-160 hours, vs zoom's 10 hours)
    Eden UI (not really a big deal for me, since honeycomb is coming anyway, but still a plus)
    Stereo Speakers
    Cooler design with the cylindrical rubber gripped top.
    Swivel Camera (although only 3.2 mp)

    Right now there is no Pixel qi screen with 1280 resolution, so i guess these two are already top of the line depending on what u want.

    I'm more inclined towards Adam right now, because of the screen, usb and bat life (and price)
    although tbh, the size of the company scares me a bit. (been following it for a year, and a big fan, but still… i often buy obscure product that disappears from market after awhile, its not fun to get no more support/updates after 6 months) but will definitely risk it with the Adam

    Anyway, hopefully we'll get to order again soon. =/ otherwise the Xoom might be too tempting if we can order that first.

    • nsh13 says:

      The pixel qi versions sold out in a matter of hours. The next day the lcd versions did. And it had yet to be fully analysed by tech review sites. After CES the excitement over the adam has grown exponentially. I'm still waiting for the chance to order mine. Something tells me this company will be around for awhile, unless their really good pricing is selling it at a loss.

  17. bruce says:

    Also please dont forget there is a global copy/paste function
    (important especially from content creation point of view)

  18. valluin says:

    adam stands out loud and clear.i happen to witness the preview of xoom, it is nothing compared to adam .no doubt moto brings brand value,if genuinely compared features are far more than any tablet put together for the money you pay.i think there is no comparition at all ADAM is the first in line rest all is just tablets.

  19. SBJ Wadya says:

    The most important thing for any product is promotion and marketing. Will Notion Ink be able to spend a lot of money on commercials? Do they have enough money to pay their suppliers? Will they be able to place their tablet with a lot of retailers viz. Walmart, Amazon, Target, Sears, Bestbuy, etc? Will they be able to produce enough quantity to meet the demand? I guess they need to find a worldwide partner such as Amazon for finance and distribution.

    If they are great in features but are not simple available in the market, the consumer will certainly buy Xoom (which I think will be available abunduntly). This is an era of instant gratification! Consumers want it now!

    • aandd says:

      There are a lot of people who do share your view point. However, the true leaders have always been people who have taken a path less trodden and created a new way to show and lead the rest in more innovative way.
      Adam's team must be congratulated to think out or the box and present to us an excellent product which is "utility" based and that has the powers to transform the way we shall be wroking in our board-rooms/ class rooms/ during our travel, probably any free moment that we have to ourselves.

      • ab123 says:

        Good point. With their pre-order revenue and cash flow (and regular sales) and additional venture (or angel) backing, they may be able to pony up some cash or arrange funding for ad campaigns. At the moment, word of mouth seems to be doing the trick :-) . Anyway, isn't this dilemma pretty standard stuff as far as ventures go (going from early stage to the growth stage)?

  20. TheTruthHurts says:

    For early adopters willing to bet on Notion Ink, the Adam is a clear choice (unless the resolution issue gets you). The PixelQi screen option (Not mentioned in the comparison) is enough to seal the deal. The advent of UI improvements and the more thought out case design are other reasons.

    My concern is that with suppliers allocating production time by contract, we have too many tablets for the little guy to get much factory time. We'll see, but I don't want NI plagued by the quality issue that first faced the Palm Pre (a device I prefer over the iPhone by design if not implementation). Ecosystem is important and Honeycomb levels the playing field on that issue.

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