A year ago nobody had ever heard of Notion Ink. This week the company started taking pre-orders for one of the most hotly anticipated tablet computers around, thanks to a strong showing at CES in January, and a long list of cutting edge features including an optional Pixel Qi display, NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, custom Android user interface, rotating camera, and more.
Unfortunately, yesterday’s pre-launch event was marred by some problems which has led the company to go on the defensive. If Notion Ink is truly trying to deliver on its promises, that’s a shame. But a number of web sites are reporting concerns that the Adam tablet may not really exist, or at the very least that the company behind it is getting a bit greedy.
I’m going to reserve judgment for now, but here’s the short version of the debate:
Causes for concern
- There are no pictures of the finished product on the order page.
- At first the company didn’t make it clear that the tablet won’t ship until January at the earliest, even if you pre-order today.
- The company is charging a $50 flat fee for shipping to any destination around the globe (which seems high for some, low for others).
- The company has a short return window of just 10 days.
- There are high restocking fees, even on defective products — although those fees seem to have changed several times yesterday.
- There’s no way to pay with MasterCard, and many customers had problems paying with Visa.
In Notion Ink’s defense
- This is the company’s first major product launch and there are likely to be some problems accepting credit cards, etc.
- The company says the $50 shipping fee works because it’s low to some countries and high to others, thus evening things out in the end.
- Notion Ink has applied for the right to accept MasterCard payments but hasn’t received approval yet.
- Notion Ink is hardly the first company to charge a restocking fee.
- The company had hoped to build some more buzz around the product at CES, by holding off on hands-on photos and videos until then
Notion Ink says that it will produce an in-depth video on December 18th to help alleviate some concerns about the Adam tablet being vaporware.
Honestly, I’m not surprised to see strange shipping rates, high restocking fees, or problems processing orders from a young company based in India and hoping to ship internationally. If you’ve been following the company’s progress over the last year, it really sounds like there’s an effort to try to make the Adam different by offering a truly global launch — but that’s tough to do without a huge Apple-like global presence. Heck, even major PC makers including Apple, Samsung, and others have a tendency to roll out new products first in specific regions for a variety of logistical reasons.
It’s possible that Notion Ink has bitten off more than it can chew, which is leading to some bumps. If the product really were vaporware, I can’t see why the company would have waited nearly 12 months to begin taking orders and ripping off consumers. But at the very least, you might want to make sure you’re well aware of the shipping and return policies before plunking down any cash on the Notion Ink tablet.
What do you think? Do you still trust Rohan Shravan and company, are you starting to have doubts, or are you taking a wait-and-see approach?
Update: For what it’s worth, Pixel Qi’s Mary Lou Jepsen confirms that Notion Ink has sold out of versions of the tablet with the Pixel Qi display, but that the company has placed orders for additional Pixel Qi screens.