Reviews: Dell Adamo is all beauty, not enough brains

Summary:After a prolonged, elaborate marketing campaign, the Dell Adamo 13 ultraportable is finally widely available and several sites have recently posted full reviews.Reviewers agreed that the Adamo succeeded in the design department with a sturdy, aluminum case that, at 0.

After a prolonged, elaborate marketing campaign, the Dell Adamo 13 ultraportable is finally widely available and several sites have recently posted full reviews.

Reviewers agreed that the Adamo succeeded in the design department with a sturdy, aluminum case that, at 0.65 inches thick, can stake a reasonable claim to the title of world's thinnest laptop (the tapered Apple MacBook Air is thinner in the front but thicker in the back). PC Magazine has some nice details on the display, a 13.4-inch, edge-to-edge glass display--which partly explains why the Adamo, at just less than 4 pounds, is heavier than its competition--with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Aside from the lack of an SD card slot, the Adamo has a decent selection of ports and connectivity options for an ultraportable including integrated 3G mobile broadband. Engadget had some complaints about the build quality of its review unit, as well as the keyboard design, but overall it liked the design as well.

The performance of the Adamo, with its ultra low-voltage Intel parts, depends on your perspective. CNET.com says the base 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U9300, 2GB of memory and 128GB SSD make a "huge difference compared with the Atom/Neo/Nano CPUs we've spend most of our time with lately" but notes that "even a basic sub-$1,000 Core 2 Duo 13-inch laptop such as the HP Pavilion dv3510nr, can outperform the Adamo." And direct competitors with similarly high price tags such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X301 and Sony VAIO VGN-Z590 "beat it to a pulp" on PC Magazine's performance tests. Engadget was most critical of the Adamo's performance stating that the laptop's "outside is handsome, but the insides are downright ugly."

Everyone seemed disappointed in the Adamo's battery life which ranged from 2 hours 36 minutes on CNET.com's video playback test to 3 hours 40 minutes on PC Magazine's MobileMark 2007 runs. Engadget doesn't cite a specific number in its review, but wrote that the Adamo didn't even come close to Dell's claim of five hours, and instead yielded closer to two and a half hours of battery life on everyday tasks.

To a large degree the Dell Adamo is a victim of bad timing. Dell decided to try its hand at a luxury laptop just as the economy went into a tailspin. But the Adamo, which starts at $1,999 because of pricey parts such as the 128GB SSD ($225 and up in retail) and ultra low-voltage processor, was always meant to be a niche product. Dell still sells 13-inch laptops at many different prices including the Inspiron 13, starting at $499; the Vostro 1320, currently available online starting at $679; the XPS M1330, which starts at $749; and the Studio XPS 13 at $1,099 and up. The Inspiron 15 is even cheaper starting at $479.

Dell Adamo 13 reviews:

Topics: Dell, Apple, Broadband, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Laptops, Lenovo, Mobility, Processors

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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