Note:

Let me direct you all to our most up-to-date post on this issue:

Our Response To Rohan's Blog Posting

Please leave comments there - this thread is getting a little unwieldy.

Thanks,

David

Update #4: If Notion Ink is planning to unveil Adam at CES, why are they not listed in the CES exhibitors list?

Update #3: Rohan Shravan has posted, in response to many users' concerns, some information on his blog regarding many of Notion Ink's policies, shipping costs, and warranty.

Rohan has also stated that on December 18th, a video demonstration of the Adam will be posted for all to see. The lack of media showing off the device has been explained as follows:

The Pre-Order vs CES. We do realize the lack of ‘more’ videos and hands on demo or review by our fellow technical bloggers, and deeply respect those who want to wait for the same. CES is where we intended to demo, show everything and allow for review, else there is no point for a good CES event. Pre-order was essentially for those who wanted to pre-book before Adam go out of stock (which it has already started for some variants). But now reading your comments it feels extremely unfair on our part in not releasing videos, run through and other important thing you need to know.

If this is the case, I do not follow the business logic. CES is an event at which manufacturers demo unreleased technology - technology that has years of development ahead of it before it is ready for consumers. Frankly, most of the technology at CES isn't even usually interesting to consumers - it's more about attracting investors and distributors. That's not exactly a secret, either: CES describes itself as a "trade only event".

The lack of an FCC approval has also been addressed:

FCC: We shared the information that it is expected in early 20s. Even if it gets delayed, it will be in December, and this is specifically the reason why first Adam will only be shipped on 6th January.

Translation: they don't have FCC approval yet. The FCC is fickle, bureaucratic, and rarely are approvals able to be accurately predicted. I won't be convinced of this one until I see the filing - something Rohan has not provided.

Rohan has also discussed the return and warranty policies of Notion Ink, in particular comparing them with Apple's. What Rohan fails to mention is that neither Apple, Dell or Samsung charge restocking fees or shipping when replacing defective or incorrectly shipped devices. Manufacturers generally take full responsibility for a product which is defective or not delivered to specification, placing no cost (other than lost time) on the consumer.

A seven day return policy, then, seems less reasonable than 21, 14, or even 10, especially when you're asking your customer to pay for it. You can also expect a much slower turnaround time with Notion Ink. Dell, Samsung, and Apple all have US distribution centers and efficient supply chains to replace your hardware quickly (usually!). Notion Ink, unless I've missed something, has no US distributor or repair center.

Finally, regarding shipping costs, I can see the logic in Rohan's assertion. Shipping direct from the manufacturer in China is expensive for a smaller company, though $50 is still a little steep for most people to stomach.

In the end, I speak (with authorization) for the entire Android Police team: we'd like nothing more than to eat our words and see an Adam on our doorstep.

Update #2: Notion Ink has now integrated the warranty, return, and sales policy into the order confirmation screen. No shipping or billing address is still required to reach the payment screen. The return refund fees have changed:

  • 5% Repack fee
  • 5% "Service" fee (they will charge this to you even if you want a replacement)
  • 3% Restock fee
  • Notion Ink will no longer reimburse shipping on returns, your return bag will be pre-paid, and the amount deducted from your refund, or presumably billed to you if you want a replacement. (Wow.)
  • Notion Ink reserves the right to reduce your refund by up to 75% if they find the device has been "tampered" with. Nice and vague.

Note that my quotations from the original post (excepting those from the warranty) no longer represent Notion Ink's terms for return and sales policies. Those are now shown below:

The detailed Warranty Terms & Policies, Support Details & Procedures will be shipped along with the product.

Shipping & Payments:
1. Notion Ink holds no responsibility for the shipments delayed or lost due to unforeseen & unavoidable reasons arising due to Man Made or natural circumstances.

2. The user indemnifies Notion Ink for Shipments lost or returned due to wrong address provide to Notion Ink, in such cases any extra charges or penalties applicable will be borne by buyer. Notion Ink suggests all the buyers to provide the complete address with ZIP CODE & CONTACT NUMBERS to avoid such circumstances.

3. Any Customs duty, clearance charges, handling charges or taxes levied by the customs or the Government of destination Country will be borne by the buyer & Notion Ink suggests that these charges can vary from 0% to 100% of invoice value as per Country norms.

4. Any Returns coming to Notion Ink, due to wrong address or refusal due to charges arising as stated in point 3, will attract a charge of reshipping & penalty of 10 USD along with any charges paid by Notion Ink not limited to customs duty, handling charges, taxes & service charges levied by shipping partner.

...

Return Policy:
You can initiate a refund process within 7 days of your product receipt under the following conditions stated in below points.

1. If the product is defective/ Dead on Arrival/ Incorrect, you must contact Notion Ink at [email protected] & open up a case for Return, In this case you need to ship the product back with all the original packaging, accessories etc along with the letter from yourself stating the reason. After the inspection of the product & evaluation of your case, Notion Ink will refund the entire amount minus 5% service fees of the invoice value. You can also opt for the replacement product at no extra cost except the 5% Service Fees of invoice value.

2. Notion Ink offers a no questions asked return policy. If you wish to return your product under this policy, you must open a case by emailing [email protected] & ship the product back & a Letter with reason for return to Notion Ink & after evaluation of your case & the product, Notion Ink will refund the amount after deducting the Shipping fees & service fees of 5%.

3. If in any of the cases the product is found tempered, Notion Ink Reserves the right to refuse the refund or deduct a fees up to 75% of the cost of the product as per the evaluation report of product plus a inspection fees of 9USD.

4. If in any case the Product packaging is found damaged, Notion Ink reserves the rights to deduct a amount of 5% as repackaging Plus 3% as restocking fees of the final invoice value.

Update #1: Notion Ink has taken down all of their policy (return, sales) documentation. The pre-order page has been changed to reflect a 6-8 week shipping estimate (end of January - beginning of February). We urge you to strongly consider this before you hand them a credit card number.

I still have my snippets from the documentation as it appeared before it was taken down. Presumably, changes are being made by NI. Stay tuned.

The Notion Ink Adam is a device that, on paper and in renders, sounds and looks awesome. There's no denying it - dual-mode PixelQi display, Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 3G connectivity (on some models), 1GB of RAM, and 1GB of SLC (expensive) solid-state storage.

The top-end model will cost you $549 - A  3G Galaxy S Tab, a device with far fewer features, will run you $650. Samsung is famous for the low unlocked pricing on its Galaxy S phones, and it seems unlikely the Tab carries a significantly inflated price tag. How then can Notion Ink, a startup from India, claim to be able to undercut one of the world's biggest manufacturers of memory and displays? Things aren't adding up.

Pre-order Woes

The oddities don't end there. Actually, that's just the beginning of them. Today, the CEO of Notion Ink, Rohan Shravan, teased out that pre-order links would be emailed to select customers, and they have (into spam folders). The problem is, up until a few hours ago, the links didn't even have shipment date estimates (this has silently been updated to "6-8 Weeks" for all models). We'll go ahead and provide you some images of the pre-order pages:

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Be sure to expand them, as they're full-screen images

Notice anything strange? There are no pictures of the device on the order page. Not a single one. Why? Maybe because the US is Notion Ink's biggest target market - let me explain.

In the US, it is generally against the law to advertise images of a product for purchase that does not represent what consumers can actually buy. This is categorized as misleading or false advertising. If Notion Ink doesn't have a final production version of the Adam yet, they can't go showing consumers pictures of a prototype next to a big button that says "BUY" if it doesn't represent what will actually be in the box. Lazy (or "minimalist") web design is, of course, the alternate explanation.

The order page also fails to indicate the presence of previously promised color choices. Even more strangely, there is no mention of what frequency bands are available for the 3G-capable models. Some have speculated that NI will ship different bands based on country, or that you will be prompted to choose later. This sounds extremely unlikely - again, consumers are not being informed what it is they're actually buying. And they are buying something, as they're billed the entire price of the device plus shipping upon pre-ordering.

NI is also offering flat-rate shipping. From India China. The cost? $50 - to any country on the pre-order page's list. Their list includes Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba, and well over 150 other nations, via DHL. Something tells me $50 won't fit the bill when you're shipping to Kabul.

Many commenters on Notion Ink's blog are also reporting failed pre-orders. This may simply be due to an overload of NI's server(s).

Return Fees? You Betcha!

Notion Ink's documentation regarding policies on returns and sales is sketchy at best. The documents are clearly unfinished (i.e. the Sales Policy is missing major information) and poorly formatted. There is also conflicting information - take the return policy fees:

Therefore, if the product is returnable and you send it back to us unopened in the original box, within ten (10) days from the date the product is delivered to you, we will offer you a full refund, subject to a deduction of five percent (5%) from the purchase price towards processing fees.

Compared to, in the same paragraph:

Notion Ink will charge a restocking fee of ten percent (10%) for the returned product and additional ten percent (10%) repackaging fee if the product is returned as open hardware or distorted package.

This may either be inconsistency or outright greed. My own reading suggests that every returned Adam will be subject to at least 15% of the purchase price (so for the 3G Pixel Qi model, at least $75) for any return requesting a refund, for any reason. This is apparently confirmed in a much later paragraph:

As soon as we receive notice of your cancellation of the order and receive the returned product in our warehouse, we will refund the purchase price for that product after deducting:

2. Five percent (5%) processing fees; 3. Ten percent (10%) restocking fee; 4. Additional ten percent (10%) repackaging fee, if the product is returned as open hardware or distorted package; 5. The products normal postage charge; and 6.Any import duties or taxes that Notion Ink has paid for delivery of products to you.

What does this intentionally ambiguous language mean? It means if you received a defective Adam tablet and want a refund (note: not a replacement), Notion Ink will deduct from your refund the processing, restocking, and open box fees. This will amount to 25% of the original cost (for the 3G Pixel Qi model, this is over $130).

Notion does say they will pay for the shipping costs in both directions, though. Notion's basic shipping fee is $50 for DHL, a quick estimate for a 3lb package shipped by DHL to New Delhi (you have to return it to Notion directly) indicates it will cost you roughly $100.

Oh, and there's this hidden nugget in the sales policy as well (this could in theory get very expensive):

Any Customs duty, clearance charges, handling charges or taxes levied by the customs or the Government of destination Country will be borne by the buyer & Notion Ink suggests that these charges can vary from 0% to 100% of invoice value as per Country norms. (Emphasis ours)

Ten Days

Don't worry, kids - it gets even better. How long do you have to return your device if you don't like it, or if they shipped the wrong model? That's a damn good question, and I can't give you a clear answer. Notion Ink's brilliant documentation has done a great job confusing me:

Notion Ink guarantees to return your money, if you are unhappy for any reason with your purchase and return to us the product in its original condition within ten (10) days from the date you received the product. (Emphasis ours)

For those of us in the States - or even worse, UK customers - this sounds absurd. 30-day return policies are the golden rule for electronics in the US, and although I don't personally know the rule in the UK, I can't imagine ten days is the norm. Particularly for something that's shipping across an ocean.  Now compare that to this statement later in the document:

5. Product(s) must be received by the Notion Ink returns center within ten (10) calendar days from when the return was requested.

An optimistic reader might think that you must ship the device within ten days of requesting a return, and a return must be requested within ten days of your receipt of the device - a maximum of about 20 days. A more pessimistic interpretation would suggest that Notion Ink must receive the device within ten days of your receiving the initial shipment. In the end, you have ten days to decide whether or not you want to keep the device or return it and pay Notion Ink's absurd fees.

Notion also makes the absurd statement that if your Adam is DOA (Dead on Arrival), you must tell them within ten days. How they would know this is beyond me. But if you want to get technical, Notion could, theoretically, refuse to refund you if they discovered during inspection that your device must have been DOA and you failed to abide by the ten day rule.

Warranty?

We discovered Notion Ink's warranty on the Payment Confirmation page. Here it is in its entirety:

Warranty Policy:
1. Every product purchased from Notion Ink Web store is entitled for 1year
International Limited Warranty under following Conditions-
a. Unlimited Email Support ([email protected])
b. Limited Telephonic Support
c. Limited warranty of 180 days on Battery, entitle for replacement if the
Battery life is less than 50% under normal conditions.

2. To avail the Technical Support, you need to write an email & a Customer Care
Executive will get in touch with you within 24hours for further assistance.

3. In case your products needs a physical inspection or repair, you need to ship
the product with return shipping paid to Notion Ink’s International Service
Centre’s along with an transaction number of 9USD payment made on Notion
Ink Website as International Service Assistance Fees. Notion Ink upon receipt
of the product will communicate with you on the basis of diagnosis & will
assist you further. This entire process can take 3-10 working days or more
depending upon the problem diagnosed.

4. Notion Ink upon diagnosis of the problem can replace the product with new*
product of same model (* New product can be new, refurbished or equivalently
functional compared to the product submitted)

5. If a submitted product is found tampered with or damaged or abused or under
conditions of illegal use as per NI policies, NI reserves the right of refusal to
warranty claims & can apply a fees as per the diagnosis.

This is the shortest device warranty (in terms of word length) I have ever seen in my life. That is a bad thing. There are a few other issues with it as well:

Conclusion

All in all, I'm very suspicious of Notion Ink.

The website lacks any photos of the actual device, and beyond two video demos (the last one was almost 4 months ago), we've barely seen the thing in action. All the software renders on the website are clearly from emulated instances (if not completely fabricated), and the renders of the Notion Ink have been examined by numerous comments who have pointed out that there are inconsistencies in the proportions of the device from image to image.

I'm not saying the Adam doesn't exist. The device Rohan showed off was clearly something very similar to what Notion Ink claims to be selling, but what's the reality? We just don't know, and honestly, I don't throw down $500+ for a device I've never actually seen in production form.

Source: Notion Ink