Dell Adamo review

12 Aug 2009

A stunning piece of design to rival any Apple offering, and the price is surprisingly reasonable

Price when reviewed: 
1,329(£1,329 inc VAT)
5

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, a few brief hands-on previews and a luxurious official website have whipped up the expectation, and now it's here we can confidently say the Adamo has been worth every second of the wait.

It comes in silver or black, with suitably 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 should become a permanent companion on your travels – although we’d recommend a padded slipcase, at the very least, to ensure the exquisite exterior isn’t scratched or damaged.

Dell Adamo side

Attention to detail

The chassis, as well as providing a striking first impression, is peppered with impressive details: dozens of tiny pinpricks sit toward the rear of the machine, ostensibly to provide ventilation, but one of them lights up when the laptop is on and pulses on and off when it’s in sleep mode.

Turn the Adamo over and you’ll see that its service number is written in miniscule font along a discreet edge – because having stickers and removable panels scattered across the underside just wouldn’t do. Instead, the bottom only features a raised metallic plaque with the Adamo logo and the Vista and Intel liveries that would usually – on a normal, common laptop – 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 squeezed in. There’s no D-SUB output, though, and the necessary DisplayPort-to-D-SUB and HDMI adapters are listed on Dell’s US site but haven't yet made it to the UK homepage.

Getting the basics right

Ease back the lid and it’s clear Dell has really gone to town. The 13.3in edge-to-edge WLED display has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768, and offers bright colours and sharp detail, although it’s not perfect. We found the backlight bled through a little and the panel itself was rather glossy and reflective but, all in all, it's pleasant to use for work or play.

Dell Adamo keyboard

The keyboard eschews 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 the slightness of the laptop does mean key travel is a little shorter than perfect. As you'd expect, Dell’s layout is entirely practical, with a double-height Enter and wide left and right Shift keys.

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

Details

Price ex VAT £1,156
Price inc VAT £1,329
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site, 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 331 x 243 x 18mm (WDH)
Weight 1.800kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg
Weight with extended battery N/A
Travelling weight with extended battery N/A

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo U9300
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 13.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500
Graphics card RAM 256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 119GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA
Hard disk Samsung SSD
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Dell HD Audio
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 3min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 31min
Overall application benchmark score 0.68
Office application benchmark score 0.72
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.76
Encoding application benchmark score 0.59
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.65
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition