Move over Apple, Dell's Adamo is irresistible value for a luxury laptop

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Move over Apple, Dell's Adamo is irresistible value for a luxury laptop

Dell may not emanate the instant cool that comes with each new Apple launch, but it's doing its best to change that.

Months of drip-fed information, brief hands-on previews and a luxurious website have whipped up expectation, and now it's here we can confidently say the Adamo has been worth the wait.

It comes in silver or black, with lush monikers - the Adamo Pearl and Onyx - and its dimensions are to die for: it's impossibly slim at just 18mm and weighs 1.8kg, so it could become a permanent companion on your travels.

The chassis is peppered with impressive details: dozens of tiny pinpricks sit at the rear of the machine, ostensibly to provide ventilation, but one of them lights up when the laptop is on and pulses when it's in sleep mode.

Underneath, the Adamo's service number is written in a miniscule font - because having stickers and panels across the underside just wouldn't do.

Instead, the base features only a raised metallic plaque with the Adamo logo, plus the Vista and Intel liveries that would usually sit below the keyboard.

To keep the sides neat, all the ports and sockets are sequestered on the rear of the machine.

You get two USB ports, a combined eSATA/USB port, Gigabit Ethernet and even a DisplayPort output. There's no D-SUB output, though, and the necessary DisplayPort-to-D-SUB and HDMI adapters are listed on Dell's US site, where they cost around $20, but haven't yet made it to the AU homepage.

The 13.3in edge-to-edge WLED screen has a native resolution of 1366 x 768, and offers bright colours and sharp detail. We found the backlight bled through a little and the panel was rather glossy but, all in all, it's pleasant to use.

The keyboard eschews both the Scrabble-tile design of the MacBook Air and Sony VAIO Z Series in favour of wide, slightly concave keys.

They're comfortable, too, with a solid base and nice typing action, although key travel is a little short. Dell's layout is practical, with a double-height Enter key and wide Shift keys.

The trackpad has nothing innovative to rival the Air's multitouch flexibility, but it's responsive and smooth, and the mouse buttons are light and easy to click.

The gloriously thin design leaves little room for power so, consequently, the Adamo sports an Intel low voltage CPU.

The 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U9300 and an accompanying 2GB of DDR3 RAM produced a score of 0.68 in our real-world benchmarks, which is almost identical to that of the Air, with its 1.86GHz SU9400 processor.

Neither is astonishingly quick, but it's enough power for office work and gentler tasks.

Like the Air, this Adamo sports a 128GB SSD. It isn't as capacious as we've come to expect, but for the performance and added durability it's a luxurious trade-off we're happy with. If you need more, you could take a step up from this "Admire" specification and opt for the "Desire", which doubles that to 256GB, ups the RAM to 4GB and includes a slightly faster processor.

It also ups the price to $3299. The two are identical other than those core specs, so you're stuck with integrated graphics (and no optical drive).

The $2199 base package is more appealing, and puts it on a par with the dearer of the two MacBook Airs.

It's a very close call on most counts. There's less than a millimetre between them for thickness, but the Dell weighs around 400g more.

Where the Dell can't quite match its rival is away from the mains. The Adamo managed two hours less than the Air in our light-use test, lasting five hours.

Both the Adamo and the Air have enclosed batteries - so there's no chance to buy a new one or fit a larger-capacity unit.

If you're after a stunning machine that's been designed from the ground up to make a statement, few will outdo the Adamo - a blissful marriage of superb ergonomics and striking design.

It may not be as instantly cool as its Apple equivalent, but Dell has proven that it's eminently capable of coming up with a laptop that's every bit as stylish and desirable.

While the Dell Adamo may not pack the punch of the Sony Z series, given its vastly lower price it's a far more realistic purchase for most consumers.

It's light, slim and as gorgeous as a slab of black aluminium has any right to be, so it takes a deserved place as our A-List ultraportable of choice.

 

Dell Adamo
5 6
Verdict
A stunning piece of design to rival any Apple offering, and the price is surprisingly reasonable
Performance
Features & Design
Value for money
Overall
Recommended
Specs
$2199
• Dell computer Australia: www.dell.com.au
• Price: 2199 • CPU model/brand: Intel Core2Duo • CPU speed: 1.2Ghz • Memory capacity: 2GB DDR3 • Flash drive capacity: 128GB • Screen size: 13.3in • Screen resolution: 1366 x 768 • Weight: 1.8kg • Dimensions WDH: 243 x 18mm (WDH) • Operating system: Windows Vista Home • Manufacturer: Dell • Supplier: Dell
This review appeared in the December, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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