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.

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47 replies on “Notion Ink Adam launch runs into some roadbumps”

  1. THIS LQQKS to be THE TICKET! Will BLOW BY APPLE and wait for this guy to be up and running. I’ve done a LOT of research….looks to be the real deal, but, for my $$, will tread S-L-O-W-L-Y!!!

  2. Amen. I’ve just dropped two sites from my regular reading list thanks to the slamming they did on Notion Ink. Glad that liliputing didn’t blindly go down that road. Most of the problems they are encountering are, as rightly pointed out, growing pains, and that a small company like them, doesn’t have the infrastructure that the bigger companies have.

    Whether you “believe” in them or not, attacking Notion Ink over said problems is just terrible journalism.

  3. I said it before and I’ll say it again; for a startup with a device only serious techies know much about, the news about Notion Ink sure does cause a stir.

    I bet Samsung wishes it had as much passion behind its Galaxy Tabs. Oh, sure Samsung will sell more tabs this season; but you cannot manufacture passion (good & bad) like we see for Adam. At a blog where a news item might generate five or ten replies if it’s a “HOT” topic to see Adam generate 40+ replies tells you something. Even the people telling Brad to stop posting about Adam demonstrates the effect this tablet is having.

  4. Thanks Brad for being so fair in judgement. Most blogs are damn against Notion Ink and I don’t know why. I haven’t ordered one but that is because I don’t have $400 to spare at the moment. I don’t doubt Rohan’s sincerety one bit.

  5. I am just happy for what i see as one of the first actually objective reports of what happened. Good on you Lilputing.com!

  6. This is ridiculous… Sometimes, I think that Brad likes to post on Notion Adam Ink for his own amusement — just to see the reactions of others. We’ve all known long before this post that this product has been a joke hardly worth writing for.

    Besides, there will be more powerful cellphones on the market by the time this vaporware condenses. And what’s shocking to me is that one astute viewer/Adam fan on this site has even commented that he held off on pre-ordering his beloved Adam Tablet because the version he preferred had “sold out”. lol… It just doesn’t get much funnier than this.

    I’m convinced that NAI will eventually ship possibly ony in the form of a few canned prototypes showing up on Ebay as collectors’ items.

  7. well, to say it clearly: if the marketing / financial part of a product is not ready the product over all is not ready!!!. everything else is believing in “the wonderland of alice”. its hard money customers invest – therfore it will be a “hard” product they should expect before pulling out the cash.

  8. I am so glad that I was able to secure a PQi model, even though I was not “family”. As far as other concerns, I did enough research, did side by side comparison for TOTAL COST, and features you get for that from other vendors – this became a no brainer.

    I dont have cash lying around and hence I have waited enough for an alternative to iPad. iPad is so limiting in IMHO, Galaxy is a joke in the name of ANDROID, and there is nothing else on the horizon.

    I am totally convinced that these are not scamster. Only Notion Ink can do what they do because they dont have a fear of cannibalizing their other products (something why Apple keeps robbing you every year with addition little bit of features).

    I will have buyer’s remorse after buying an iPad but not with ADAM.

    For whatever it’s worth – I feel very comfortable right now, having separated from my precious $600.

  9. I still believe in them and I’ve been following this for one year. This was the prelaunch NOT the launch. These failures will be corrected by the time CES rolls around, mho.

  10. This is just silly, one quick video search turns up multiple product development incarnations being showcased by Rohan all over the world. Please consider actually doing some homework before you publish rather than just passing on rumors and speculation.

  11. I would have a pre-order already if they had not sold out of the one I wanted. Moreover, I see no problems with anything Notion Ink is doing. Their return policy is consistent and I wouldn’t expect a startup to have super lenient returns in terms of breakage, defect. You can return it and if you don’t notice it’s broken in TEN days…well all I have to say is “wow, really dude?” And, the very fact Notion Ink allowed fans to order at the bleeding edge of availability is there for rabid fans…not for the people who shop at Best Bu or the people who cannot afford the time and effort to get something untested.

    I have no issue with people who want to wait…none at all. Most people enjoy knowing what they are buying or at least having it sized-up by reviews first. But, when people turn around what Notion Ink has allowed into some sort of insidious plot I just don’t understand. The website has alluded to the shipping date being sometime in January 2011 for two months or more. Notion did not talk about where these things were being shipped from or what the terms would be at all. So anyone who just showed up at the website to pre-order that wasn’t clear about what had been said was dumb. Then fans knew that they knew ‘nothing’ and knew the chances. These scary cats that just wanted to be first but didn’t know what they were first in line for were/are idiots.

    If people WANTED to pre-order a device sight-unseen from a startup they they knew what they were getting into.

  12. There is no question of not trusting Notion inkl. six graduates from india premier tech college have an amazing future ahead of them it makes no financial sense to run a scam for them. They will be unemployable anywhere in the world.
    like techies they messed up by not being thorough with the financial part.
    I do hope they learnt their lesson.

  13. Those who want to dupe the world stay anonymous and out of the limelight. Does that sound even close to Notion Ink? And is anyone forcing you to pre-order?

  14. I trust, or maybe I don’t mind “risks” so much due to I have waited PixelQI tablet.
    No problem neither for pre-ordering.

  15. I have ordered one piece through visa card without any hassle.Hope to receive a piece by mid jan.

  16. The complaints and mistrust seem a bit over-hyped to me. Basically, Notion Ink is a startup that has what seems like a superior product on the market for well below the market rate. They don’t have the institutional capacity to handle all of the interest. I believe that the vast majority of that interest is in the pixel qi screen, which promises to change the dynamic of reading on a tablet (currently a very blear-inducing prospect–come home from work and spend two more hours in front of a computer screen? No thanks!). Also, of course, Android rocks, and forward-looking consumers are interested in avoiding getting sucked in to the tightly controlled Apple universe).

    So, in the final analysis, Notion Ink is a victim of its own success: it has created a better mousetrap, and it is now trying to figure out how to sell enough of those mousetraps to meet the overwhelming demand. Not a bad position to be in for a firm in India with no prior experience. Let’s hope they figure out how to bulk up quickly.

    1. Notion Ink created a better mousetrap?! Where? Have you seen a working production model?

  17. Notion Ink should’ve use PAYPAL for the purchases, and they we’re very bad about giving first pre-orders to the dedicated follows, but people should wait till this proves itself in the market.
    I’ve been an follower of this product even sent in an drawing for their contest and they totally igorned me, but I’m okay and I probably won’t follow them anymore.

  18. I am mixed, but I ordered one. I dont’ think scam, but I’ll say I won’t be surprised if the software has issues. I think when you read all the blog posts, you see all these bases being covered, so I’m still excited, but yeah I’ve gotten to where I reallu don’t understan why they don’t have a simple youtube video right now of just doing a little playing around with the interface. It takes 5 minutes to make a video. Heck if the device works, a 2nd tablet could record the video even! A week to polish a video is enough time to animate a fake presentation. That’s why I am bugged out. Most of the buyers dont’ need good audio just to see it work. Some “secret” features are very cool, but this is standard stuff. Boot it up, show the opening of a browser, take a photo, open an ebook, shut it down. I’d even accept them hiding or blurring secret features I just want to see responsiveness and a current form factor live, with 50 of them stacked behind him so I see they got it and they are all the same.

  19. A detailed video by Dec. 18? Come on! This is just another reason to doubt the sincerity of Notion Ink. If this device were really ready to go, then Notion Ink should put up the video immediately.

    1. Agreed, supposedly everything is in place, he has a prototype/production model… why not post a video NOW? relieve some of these issues?

  20. A diamond idea with a cubic zirconium execution..I too will wait until this solidifies into something real…I hope CES turns it around for them

    1. p.s. does NI have a booth rented for CES or can you just work out of a hotel room…..although that sounds kinda sleezy???

  21. The day I opened for business I had Master Card/Visa and Amex in place, had my website up and running will ALL appropriate information and pictures as necessary, and a shipping calculator for the convenience of my customers.

    I am not saying Notion Ink is a scam, just they knew this day was coming and should have had everything ready to do business.

  22. I pre-ordered last night and ran in to a problem with my Visa card. I chalk it up to ordering via an international company for most cards seems to be a red flag for VISA. They put extra steps for me to do the order, one of the steps was to create another layer of authentication in the process. The authentication requires the last 4 digits of your SS number which is standard for VISA to authenticate its users. So i think this product is real and can’t wait to receive mine.. I will post more when I get it..

  23. I think it’s all good in the long run. I can understand that a young company attempting a global launch with a first product in a relatively new category might be running into issues; maybe if the tablet is really that awesome a big company might help them a teenie bit? maybe..hint. hint…googster ole buddy ole pal…haha j/k…but no really you should look into that.

  24. M problem is the return policy. No company makes you to return a fault item. Second if the roll out was that and no feedback for 24hrs whats happens when they receive you get the wrong and faulty item and need customer support. They also took no responsibility for there F88kup when a response was released they only bashed other sites for reporting what was true.

  25. Aaargghhhh.. Pix Qi are all sold out. 🙁

    One thing for sure, it’s not a scam.

    Low funds/low inventory? may be.

  26. I am hoping for the best, but won’t buy until I see a video and reputable third-party reviews.

  27. Can we please stop hearing about this? Let it die. They’ve done nothing to earn this attention and are over-covered. If one day there products are available for review then we can start talking about them again. In the meantime, there’s no reason to keep bringing them up.

    1. Exactly. Taking preorders and NOT having photos of the actual device?! Startup company or not, there is absolutely no excuse for that. Anyone pre-ordering has no grounds for complaints should the deal go south.

      This story is “Son of CrunchPad/JooJoo”. Online media kept interest in that dud going… the same is happening with the Notion Ink Adam.

      But then again, there are quite a few out there pining for the UnicornPad because wishing makes it so. LOL

    2. Agreed. Likewise _anything_ having to do with Pixel Qi. As far as I can tell, it’s all just over-hyped vaporware.

  28. As far as the shipping rates, they seemed high to me until I queried FedEx. International Economy rates from Bangalore (where Notion is headquartered) to Washington, DC run about $70 for one person mailing one five pound package.

    My concern, having just gone through the HP Slate preorder process (if you can call it that) would be availability. The lack of a picture of a finished product on the order page would lead me to wonder how many finished products will be available in a month. Or two. If a large company like HP cannot ship for six weeks after the preorder started and still shows a four to six week delay if you order now, I really wonder how Notion Ink will manage to get anything produced and shipped by January.

    Plus, having owned a tablet from the now bankrupt OQO and seeing the news today that UMID has gone under, I would worry about Notion Ink’s viability. My advice would be to hold off until it’s shipping.

  29. I am started to do pre-order yesterday and STOPPED. $50 for shipping is to high. And no reviews of product by sites. I have waited a year and will wait till mid January. Unless another comes out with the screen type I want.

    1. The shipping is not too high considering it’s being shipped from India.

      1. it’s not being shipped from India, I believe the blog states it’s shipping from China.

  30. I still trust Rohan, I have followed him for long time. Developing a product with a world outlook and appeal is bound to generate mixed reviews especially for a young company as this. I am hoping they can keep their gaze on the final product and not allow the bumps to stifle creativity and innovation.

  31. I was all hot and bothered to pre-order, seeing how I’ve been waiting for this particular device for months! Ever since the Ipad hit I’ve been holding off, knowing something more set for my usage would hit the market. The Adam seemed like a miracle device and I was all ready to pre-order 2 of them. Upon getting online and simply searching for “notion ink adam” to be directed to their website… I was bombarded by sites speaking of the issues in ordering, them requiring a SSN and NOT requiring proper shipping information which of course makes it all seem very, very fishy.
    I for one have decided to say “I’ve waited 6 months, I can wait another 2”. This failure in launch not only has made me question the company but whether or not I’ll choose this device AT ALL.

    1. Strange. I didn’t see any of what you talked about on the ordering page. No mention of ssn and I had to fill out complete shipping information twice. Might be smoke and mirrors, but seemed normal to me….only time will tell

      1. The info I was referring too was unconfirmed from other websites/blogs and such. But it was enough to make me step back and curb my enthusiasm toward this device.
        I know they’re a new company and deserve some grace but you have to wonder if they can’t pull off an effective sale/shipping process… perhaps they need some time to smooth out issues in their PRODUCTS as well?
        It hasn’t killed my want for the Adam, but I will definitely wait until after CES before even contemplating buying… it would be even better if they found some local distributors (BestBuy or something)

        1. UNCONFIRMED reports/blogs. Well if you had tried to order then you would have seen the forms first had. YOU STILL CAN TRY.

          The do NOT want you SSN.

  32. I still believe them. However, a PQi cannot be delivered soon enough for Xmas and the preorder stock is already sold out. Thus a wait-and-see approach is for me most reasonable.

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