Reviews: Dell Adamo is all beauty, not enough brains

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. 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'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, Mobility, Lenovo, Laptops, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Broadband, Processors

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  • Adamo's main problem

    The main problem with the Adamo is not the
    price, but the operating system, Windows. Make
    a commitment to Linux and I might bite. With
    Windows as the OS I'm not interested.
    • It takes some work, but you can ask for a refund on Windows. [nt]

  • Agreed...

    When you buy a MacBook or MacBook Air, you're getting
    amazing design on top of Mac OS X; a rock solid UNIX
    based operating system; sorta like a Ferrari body with a
    Ferrari engine.

    With the Dull, er, I mean Dell, you're getting a Chevy body
    on a lawn mower engine.

    And I mean no disrespect to the lawn mower!!

    Windows! What a crock of crap.

    I actually feel bad that PC manufacturers are stuck with
    having to put that crap on their wares. If only Apple would
    come up with minimum hardware configuration for PC
    manufacturers so that they could sell PC's with OS X. I bet
    you'd see Windows sales drop so fast it would make your
    head spin.
    • sorta...

      OS X is great for people that like to make
      pretty pictures, or that can't handle the
      command line of true *nix. Windows is still the
      choice of businesses around the world because of
      its flexibility, the huge numbers of people that
      are trained and qualified to manage and develop
      for windows environments, and because most
      people honestly have very little trouble with
      what you claim is a "crock of crap".

      The bigger crock, to me, is a version of Unix
      that has been neutered to only run on "blessed"
      hardware... can you imagine the outcry if
      Microsoft tried to get away with this crap?
    • Adamo and MacAir are on par

      as neither one is a computing/gaming powerhouse. They are meant for style-conscious business users and to create the wow factor. No serious computer nerd will claim that MacAIR is a "Ferrari" - it's a usable, very light and cute machine with woefully inadequate connections. So is Adamo, except it at least has more connectors and can surf 3G network with a SIM card. I expect on Windows 7, with much smaller computing overhead, it might even fly.
  • Better tack?

    I wonder whether DELL should have gone for beauty AND brains: making a machine that was much more expensive than the Air ... and much more powerful. Making another gold-plated dustbin doesn't sound like a smart move. If your customers have money to burn ... then help them burn it!
  • Enough brains for what?

    The reality is the software demands have not (for the most
    part) kept up with the increases of the hardware. For what
    the majority of people do (minus the battery life aspect) the
    Adamo's has more than enough brains.

    It would be nice to have the option to dump the SDD in favor
    of a MHD (Mechanical HD) to bring the cost in line a bit. But
    from a design point, it really is a sweet look.
  • Too pricey in a falling market

    Yes the luxary market is in why bring out a Dell at this price in a disappearing market.It needs to differentiate itself from everyone else.So when every other laptop in the mid market is running windows is case design enough to coax buyers...Maybe not.The development costs need to be recouped asap before the competition catches up with the design.This means Dell needs to sell a lot of units in a short time to break even.Although top slicing the market is common practice it must go for market share before the model's differential advantage is disapated.Expect a lower end model at ?750 or a change in CEO.
    The Management consultant
  • RE: Reviews: Dell Adamo is all beauty, not enough brains

    With Jaunty Jackalope, my Adamo boots to a usable desktop in less than 15 seconds. I'd say that's pretty outstanding performance, and beats the snot out of comparable windows systems from HP, Sony, or Lenovo. I'd say that a slower processor would be fine even, most of the time I'm using it, it's running in 800mhz mode anyway. People get caught up in the gigahertz number when really it's overkill for what they're using their laptops for anyway. I write web applications on mine and it's plenty fast to run Aptana, a few browser windows, Thunderbird, Remote Desktop to the office over VPN, the Gimp and Pidgin for chat, all at once. If I wanted a gaming laptop, I wouldn't expect to get something portable and I wouldn't expect to use a battery at all. In the end, I laugh at people with their 3ghz laptops especially after their 90 minutes of battery life have run out.