Day 2 with Adam: More updates

Hi there Internet,

I want to keep this update a short one.  I used the Adam off and on at work today, and here is what I feel about it.

First off, I should have chosen the 3G version.  That would make life so easy, especially now that BSNL has drawn first blood with launching a Rs.999 per month unlimited data plan for the iPad.

I don’t have any way right now to go online with the Adam when away from my home wifi, and here’s why:

I wanted to use my EVDO USB modems with the Adam, but I realised too late that the modified Linux kernel used by Android does not feature udev, which is essential for usb-modeswitch, the fantastic tool that makes using these modems a breeze on Linux.  The alternative is to use a personal wifi hotspot, either a standalone device like those made by Cradlepoint, or a hotspot creation utility on a mobile phone.

A friend of mine is willing to give me his wifi hotspot device, but I am yet to take up that offer.  I considered installing Joikuspot on my Nokia E71, but the Lite version supports only WEP [Correction: the Symbian version I downloaded has no security] and HTTP/HTTPS (which means no proper security or POP, SMTP, Youtube) and the Premium version costs money.  In any case, 3G services are yet to arrive to my carrier, so I can wait for a couple of months.

The wireless LAN at my workplace uses MS PEAP authentication, and probably has some restrictions.  I tried to configure the Adam to access it, but there was no way to provide my domain password (that I know of, without rooting the device), and so the attempt failed.

I then thought of sharing the connection on my work laptop through wireless, but I know that it just messes with my IP settings and does not work.  I googled for a solution to use my laptop as a wireless access point, and immediately hit upon Connectify, a nifty utility that fixes the broken access point functionality in Windows 7 and helps you create an access point or ad hoc connection for sharing an internet connection quite easily.

I downloaded connectify and installed it, but I realised later that the Intel wireless ‘cheapset’ on my laptop does not support creation of an access point.  Connectify was able to create an ad hoc connection instead, but unfortunately the Adam can’t use ad hoc mode without rooting.  Further, upon testing with my mobile phone, I realised that getting onto the internet was a long shot anyway because of the proxy authentication lying in between.

I even tried to tether my mobile phone through bluetooth with the Adam, so that I could use Dial Up Networking for Edge, if I could figure out how to set it up, and if the capability exists.  However, and very strangely, while the Adam could see my phone on bluetooth and even pair with it, it could not create the bluetooth connection.  So there was no point in my trying out DUN.  I could not determine, after repeated attempts, why the phone and the Adam had transformed into uncommunicative spouses.

So I have laid my mobility plans with the Adam to rest for now, and this sucks because I can’t even use GPS navigation properly.  I did download India map data on Osmand for offline usage, but I think it needs to be online to download tiles etc.  I downloaded and sideloaded the  Google Map apk from http://majj.com, but it too is useless without an internet connection.

I have also downloaded FBReaderJ from its official site, but the ebooks I have are mostly in txt format, and unlike the standard Linux / Windows versions, the Android version of FBReader does not do text files yet.  Such snobbishness.  I plan to install coolreader from its official site tomorrow.  It seems to support a wide array of formats.

I would like to revisit some of the things I said in my first review.  The Pixel Qi is a very strange animal.  A light coloured background shows very little colour change at moderately deep angles on the left side (landscape), but visibility gets affected immediately if you move to the right.  Holding it in portrait mode will immediately give you a sense of shallow viewing angles, and there is some eyestrain at normal backlight brightness.  The reflective mode is helpful here, but then you wish for more ambient light.

With a dark background, the viewing angles are quite another story.  Visibility deteriorates at rather shallow angles on BOTH sides in landscape.  I don’t remember how it appears in portrait orientation.  Vertical viewing angles are poor if viewed from the bottom in landscape, and it makes you feel that the 3 degree elevation is nowhere near adequate.

All of this, coupled with the lower contrast and sharpness, and of course the higher price, makes me wish I had opted for an LCD with 3G model instead.  The sunlight readability of the Pixel Qi is some compensation, but given my likely use case, probably not adequate.  I did try out the sunlight readability on the street today, and tried to use Osmand.  The time to first fix was quite long, but it was working alright thereafter.  It somehow refused to change orientation, which makes me want the Google Map functionality more and more.  Oh, the sunlight readability was good, by the way, but the glare off the screen (direct sunlight, didn’t you say?) would probably make you want to avoid it.

Alright, this is all for now.  I’ll post even more reviews this weekend.

Short update, did I say?

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About ND

carbon-based life form, prefers science, rationality and freedom
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21 Responses to Day 2 with Adam: More updates

  1. jared says:

    There is a setting to change the orientation in Osmand. Look for it…it is there.

    • Nishit says:

      I think I did…but GPS is not of much use without connectivity in any case.

      • pm2412 says:

        Hi Nishit
        Is the GPS assisted GPS……i thought it worked independently like devices from mapmyindia or satguide?! I was planning to get the LCD wifi only version…..

      • Nishit says:

        @pm2412

        I don’t think it is A-GPS, which would require a cellular data connection. A-GPS does help to get a faster TTF, but the GPS chip in the Adam is said to be quite good.

        Osmand allows you to download maps, just like the Nokia Ovi Maps tool. Further, you can specify where to download the map tiles from, and the list for selection is extensive. This however would require a working data connection.

        I might migrate my phone to a 3G plan when Airtel starts the service, but only if there is a good plan within Rs.1,000 pm, and I will get rid of my Reliance Netconnect broadband plan then. I will also buy Joikuspot Premium so that I can get full hotspot functionality.

  2. ujjwalkundra says:

    I also had the same no 3G thoughts when planning to buy iPAD (which I haven’t bought yet with my eyes set on Adam tablet). I had planned to use my HTC-Wildfire (now android 2.2) as Wifi hotspot (which 2.2 supports natively).
    I do appreciate the point that different providers offer nice offers time to time. Like my current provider Vodafone charges high on Edge whereas networks like Idea offer nice value for money.
    It would be nice to use&throw these data cards based on current offers.
    So yes, I agree with your thoughts on the 3G version !
    I have planned to take the LCD+3G version but was in a dilemma with PQi.
    I thank you here for your reviews which have really helped me to be firm on my decision for LCD+3G.
    Thanks again for your sincere reviews !!

  3. doubleshark says:

    I had to sign up for a wordpress account just to get on here and comment. Gah. Great reviews, N. And thank you for setting me up for the link. Your reviews are great! Keep ’em coming – some succour till I actually get the device. I think I have ordered the (because they were out of PQi!) LCD, wifi + 3G – but the NI screen doesn’t seem very keen to display that bit of information. Despatch date still says Feb 15, so I really have my fingers crossed. Maybe I’ll get the boy in hand with the last of the P-1 crowd. Here’s hoping!

    Have you sucked in the updates yet? Maybe that’s gonna improve the display lot, some?

    • Nishit says:

      Doubleshark, eh? Well, it does sound better than Freedune.

      I have applied the 4th Feb update, and it resolved some of the issues like frequent crashes in Eden. The Browser still refuses to chase urls that start with http:// , so I delete the protocol and let it figure things out for itself.

      I hope you get the device in time. It would be great to compare screens. Again, good that you didn’t heed my advice and bought the 3G option.

      The updates haven’t improved the display, but I am now starting to figure out what mode works best for a given use case. Automatic backlight option enables the transreflective mode, and it is just great for reading ebooks without eyestrain.

      I recommend installing Coolreader. You won’t be able to download it from the Market, but the developer’s website is actually its sourceforge project hosting page, from where you can download it directly. I could not download the current official version due to some authentication error, so I have downloaded and installed the latest build. Here’s the direct download link.

      It has animated page turns, background and font options, night reading modes, and lots of other options, in addition to supporting a wide array of formats: FB2, TXT, RTF, TCR, HTML, EPUB, CHM. Try it out once you get your Adam.

  4. alpsholic says:

    Hey,

    Thanks a ton for a really cool and detailed review. I have a few questions about the PQ only- which help me decide on whether to buy or not and then what to buy. I am not bothered about SW issues at the moment as they go away soon. Based on the reviews I read about PQ on Adam, I am fully confused to get an idea about what it is really up to. One thing for sure is: I gave up expecting it to deliver a Kindle-like eInk experience. Look like Adam PQ is a way far from it. So I thought of only two things: Indoors PQ-backlit mode and outside-backlight off mode. Nothing in between! Can you comment on this? I prefer to read a lot esp research papers (2 columns pdf). Can the above working style of Adam PQ (backlit indoors and off outdoors) deliver a nice reading experience over LCD-only ADAM? If not for PQ, I dont think Adam is worth 500$ (375+all xtra) given that once honeycomb is out, there would be myriad tablets from all top brands. Please help me as I have to order asap- oh! I just got a preorder link!!

    • alpsholic says:

      Hey Nishit,
      I was refreshing every minute this page yesterday to see whether you replied to my comment. Can you do this today? I order PQ + 3G but eagerly waiting for your reply.

      Thanks,

      • Nishit says:

        Hi, sorry I had missed this.

        I have found that with the backlight on automatic, you get a bit close to an e-reader screen. It looks almost like paper in normal room lighting conditions, though it is a bit bright in a darkened room. You could manually choose to set the backlight at its lowest for night time reading. With automatic backlight on, the screen mode is transreflective in my opinion. It looks dull in bright lighting, but crisp otherwise.

        The reflective mode is quite another story. It is only useful outdoors, or near a very bright light source, but in this case you start to run into problems with the glossy screen.

        I need to have an LCD Adam to give you an objective comparison, but you could look at other reviews.

        I am happy with my Pixel Qi now that I have figured out the best settings for each usage scenario, but your mileage may vary. If you need the crispest screen, you’d be better off with LCD, and it is cheaper.

        With a landed cost of the Pixel Qi Adam in India ranging between $700-800, other Tegra 2 tablets do start to look attractive, but timing of availability is an issue.

        HTH.

    • Nishit says:

      UPDATE: I just watched an .avi video on my Pixel Qi screen, along with a colleague who is going to put in a pre-order. We were convinced that the LCD is the best option for normal use by any reckoning.

      The reason? Viewing angles. The Pixel Qi sucks at viewing angles in any direction. The LCD will also give you a crisper colour reproduction and deeper contrast, and as some reviewers have said, it also has decent sunlight-reading capability.

      Plus it is cheaper.

      You could also check the contrast ratio on the Xoom, and if it is deeper than 500:1 (the Adam LCD’s spec I think), it would be a good contender except for the price differential. It might be launched in Switzerland sooner than I think, and you already have 3G networks.

      • alpsholic says:

        Thanks Nishit once again. I read a lot, of course I prefer to watch videos too on Adam. On the price point, the difference is just 125$ and Adam LCD is pricier I guess. In a few months, there will be surely tonnes of Honeycomb tablets which drop the price significantly.

        Given all this, my skepticism over PQ is increasing! I still dont understand what it is good for really. Your words “it looks really like a paper in back light set to low” are really convincing me towards PQ! but am still doubtful. Anyway, I made the order for PQ + 3G last nite, I still have a chance to cancel the order without any fine.

      • Nishit says:

        Oy vey! I don’t think you’ll like the viewing angles on the PQ. The LCD version is quite affordable in my view.

        Unfortunately, this time it is the LCD that has gone out of stock, and the colleague who had been finally sold on it could not order.

        I think it is reviews from people like me that have dented the PQ’s popularity. The high cost is also a factor.

        The PQ is nowhere as good as e-ink. Another thing that you might want to consider is that the new Nook Colour is a normal LCD, and people are still buying it. Speaking of which, it would be a good idea to buy a Nook and root it to glory with Honeycomb! Not bad for $200!

        I think this will confuse you even more. Sorry.

  5. niranjanrao says:

    Hey Nishit,

    Thanks for your review..
    can you tell us details about ADAM battery performance

    • Nishit says:

      Hi Niranjan, all I can say as of now is that it is not stellar. I don’t have a scientific analysis of the battery life, and haven’t been using the Adam for long stretches yet anyway.

      I would like to caution that there may be enhancements and optimisations coming through updates in the future, but I would surely like to know how Rohan Shravan was able to claim a 6 hour battery rundown with flash video and wifi at full brightness.

      • niranjanrao says:

        i thought ADAM will have atleast 6 hr rundown and i can connect EVDO modems to it but by reading your blog and review i gt the answer so i am delaying purchase of ADAM.Thanks a lot Nishit

  6. alpsholic says:

    Hey Nishit,
    Thanks again for your answer to my question. Did you apply the screen protector when you said outdoors the glossy screen is creating troubles? I have seen some video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1M43zaSY3Y with the protector applied and the glare is surprisingly non-existent, but goodreader review says the screen protector is useless.

    If its highly glossy, I guess you recommend to switch on the backlight even outdoors?

    Another comment, you may want to open any ebook app which supports text in white color on a black background and see how the PQ works say indoors and outdoors. Am asking because, indoors the PQ background is not white but grayscale. So if we deliberately make it black (!!) this way, it could be interesting.

    Given all this, am not sure whether my PQ + 3G choice is worth it or not. Of course, price wise its almost same as the cheapest iPad in swiss.

    Awaiting your reply,

    • Nishit says:

      Please see my replies to the earlier comments. Unless you have a specific need for sunlight reading, I won’t recommend the Pixel Qi any longer. I am not sure about how extensive reading of white text on a black background would work, but let me try.

      (5 minutes later)
      Alright, I tried it, and the results are very underwhelming. The white is not white enough is the biggest reason. Normal black text on white background works better in reflective mode.

      Bottom line: Go for the LCD.

      I don’t have the stomach right now for trying on the screen protector. I believe it will also reduce the screen’s touch responsiveness. I might ask somebody from a nearby phone shop to apply it for me, probably over the weekend. I will also shop for accessories, like a good cover, microSDHC, a capacitive stylus, probably a small keyboard etc.

  7. Il Magnifico says:

    What are some of your favourite sites for getting e-books? Also, it will be great if you could list the apps you have on Adam, with a brief description or opinion. Thank you for the review.

  8. nithyanand says:

    Hi.
    One of your replies reminded me – I read somewhere that one can dual-boot Adam with Ubuntu. Is that possible? I’ve ordered the LCD (3G+WiFi) and should get it end of this month. I’ve never used Android and from what I’ve read so far, only 3.0 can really improve things for tablets. Can Ubuntu come to our rescue? I’d love to have a Linux distro on a tablet!
    Thanks!

  9. nithyanand says:

    And a great many thanks for your comprehensive reviews. I pored over the fansites reading and watching videos only to end up frustrated as people kept showing us how to draw doodles on Canvas, etc. without getting to the point. You’ve distilled everything down to its essentials.

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