Behind Dell's designs for its Adamo laptop

Behind Dell's designs for its Adamo laptop

Summary: After months of teases, Dell has finally launched its Adamo high-end ultraportable. The basic design--an ultra-thin 13-inch laptop in the mold of the MacBook Air, Lenovo ThinkPad X301 and HP Voodoo Envy 133-- has been well-known since the company's press conference at CES in January.

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After months of teases, Dell has finally launched its Adamo high-end ultraportable. The basic design--an ultra-thin 13-inch laptop in the mold of the MacBook Air, Lenovo ThinkPad X301 and HP Voodoo Envy 133-- has been well-known since the company's press conference at CES in January. The specs are pretty much what you'd expect from a premium ultraportable including a glossy, edge-to-edge 13.4-inch LED display, ultra low-voltage Intel processor and solid-state disk (SSD).

By now, we know what Adamo is for. It is part of an ongoing, broader company makeover that includes developing more innovative products, establishing a retail business and expanding internationally. The question is, who is it for? Adamo, which starts at $2,000, is hardly the only luxe laptop out there, but it's a tough time to be launching a new one.

CNET.com has extensive coverage of the launch including a hands-on preview, market analysis and even a detailed look at one of the design goals--hiding the ugly Microsoft, Dell and FCC stickers plastered all over your typical Windows PC.

Adamo is all about design, and its most distinctive trait is a very thin chassis. At 0.65 inches thick, it is arguably the current thinnest laptop in the world, though it depends a bit on how you measure the MacBook Air, which has a more tapered design. The basic design is a rectangular slab of aluminum that looks similar to Voodoo Envy 133, though Adamo is available in white as well as black. It is also a bit heavier than the competition at 4.0 pounds--that's heavier than the ThinkPad X301 with a an internal DVD burner (which Adamo does not have).

  • Dell Adamo: 0.65 x 13.03 x 9.5 inches; 4.0 pounds
  • Apple MacBook Air: 0.16-0.76 x 12.8 x 8.94 inches; 3.0 pounds
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X301: 0.73-0.92 x 12.5 x 9.1 inches; 3.12 pounds (with 6-cell battery and no optical drive)
  • HP Voodoo Envy 133: 0.70 x 12.65 x 9.04; 3.37 pounds

Although Dell offers several different packages, Adamo isn't fully configurable. The $1,999 base model includes the 13.4-inch LED display (1,366x768), 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9300, 2GB or memory, Intel GS45 integrated graphics and a 128GB SSD. That is a reasonable configuration for the price considering the aluminum construction, Intel ultra low-voltage chip and especially the SSD are big-ticket items.

The proof will be in the reviews, but based on what we know, Adamo looks to have an innovative design and decent performance. But it enters the market a difficult time, and it faces a lot of competition--not only from other luxury laptops but also other Dell notebooks. Dell has been accumulating laptop brands, sub-brands and models at a rapid clip. It now sells notebooks under Inspiron (and Inspiron Mini netbooks), Vostro, Latitude, Precision, Studio, XPS and most recently Studio XPS brands--not to mention the Alienware gaming laptops. Several of these include similar laptops with high-end configurations, most notably the XPS M1330 and Studio XPS 13, which both have 13.3-inch widescreen displays. For example, you can currently pick up the new Studio XPS 13 with a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo P8700, 4GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 9500M graphics with 256MB, a 500GB hard drive and slot-loading DVD burner for $1,588.

Adamo is meant to appeal to a niche audience that is willing to pay a premium for the design. It is also, I suspect, as much a marketing experiment as a product. The entire rollout--the leaked product shots, the cute code-name that stuck, the sneak preview press conference, and the Flash-heavy site (adamobydell.com) and online videos--all seem like tests of new ways to get the word out about Dell's product designs, which have in fact been getting a lot more interesting since the release of the XPS M1330 in late 2007. Dell executives have said the 13.4-inch laptop is only the beginning of what will be a family of Adamo products, and some analysts believe Adamo is meant to have a halo effect over all of Dell's products--in much the same way that the iPod and iPhone have helped spur sales of Macs. So what Adamo may lack in sales numbers, it could make up for in other areas.

Topics: Dell, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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2 comments
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  • Adamo?

    Sounds kinda like Adama. Looks like they're ripping off BSG. Is there no shame?
    Azathoth
    • People called Romanes they go the house?

      Should be spelled "Adamare," it's the first conjugated verb with a
      preposition.
      olePigeon