Dell Adamo 13 notebook

The Dell Adamo -- allegedly the world's slimmest notebook -- attempts to bring the 'sexy' back. But is it all style and no substance?

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Dell Adamo 13
  • Dell Adamo 13
  • Dell Adamo 13
  • Dell Adamo 13

Pros

  • Unfathomably gorgeous, ultra-thin dimensions, attractive all-glass display, backlit keyboard

Cons

  • Weedy components, no optical drive, ridiculously overpriced

Bottom Line

There is beauty to be found in the Dell Adamo (Admire), but most of it is only skin-deep. With an RRP of $3699, it's simply far too expensive for the specs on offer. Only fashion junkies need apply.

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The Dell Adamo (Admire) is the latest notebook to strut its stuff down the couture computing runway. It joins the growing parade of chic notebook models that place style over everything else. Recent examples include the HP Vivienne Tam Special Edition, the MSI PX600, the ASUS U6 Bamboo, the Acer Ferrari 1100 and the Apple MacBook Air. The Dell Adamo (Admire) shares most in common with the Apple offering — including the same skeletal design and sky-high price tag.

It is obvious at first glance that Dell's Adamo (Admire) is the company's answer to the world's floatiest MacBook. It appeals to the same fashionable, wealthy demographic that form Apple’s bread-and-butter (i.e. the ‘it’ crowd, rather than the IT crowd). Sleek and sexy are the order of the day, as evidenced by the drool-worthy photos above. With its brushed silver finish, pencil-thin design and huge backlit keys, the Adamo reminded us of a spaceship terminal from a big-budget sci-fi show. In fact, they probably should have called it the Dell Adama. [That's a Battlestar Galactica joke apparently. Don’t worry, he’s fired. — Ed.]. In short, the Adamo (Admire) is the Gisele Bündchen of the notebook world.

Measuring just 16mm at its thickest point, the Dell Adamo (Admire) is being billed as the world’s slimmest notebook; a title that was previously held by the MacBook Air. Despite its skinny frame, it benefits from one of the largest notebook keyboards we’ve seen. In fact, it’s almost too big, with the extra wide keys proving ill-suited to speed typing. On the other hand, regular users will be sure to appreciate the spacious layout, which will eliminate chat room typos (of the unironic variety). As mentioned earlier, the keys are also backlit — a classy and immensely useful touch.

Unfortunately, the Dell Adamo’s svelte appearance comes at the expense of an internal optical drive. Instead, you have to buy an external drive separately for the princely sum of $327.80 (or $819.50 for the Blu-ray version). We don’t know about you, but we think Dell should have thrown in the standard-def drive for free, as Asus did with its U1F notebook. Connectivity is also pretty sparse, comprising three USB ports (one of which is an eSATA hybrid), a Gigabit Ethernet port, a DisplayPort output and one headphone jack. Draft-n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also on board for all your roaming needs.

With the exception of the headphone jack, all of the ports are located at the rear of the notebook — a necessary concession due to the ultra-slim sides. Curiously, even the speakers are relegated to the back of the notebook. This means your MP3s will be blasting in the wrong direction, which is sure to annoy the commuter in front of you. On the plus side, the audio was crisp and reasonably loud throughout testing.

We were very impressed by the Dell Adamo's 13.4in widescreen display. Its 1366x768 resolution makes it suitable for high-definition movie playback. The high-gloss screen proved to be too reflective at times, but this is a common fault shared by most notebooks of its calibre. Viewing angles were excellent, and we also loved the all-glass coating that adorns the display — it adds another dash of class to what is already an incredibly slick notebook.

Of course, all the fancy styling in the world can’t make up for underpowered components, and this is where the Adamo makes its fateful catwalk stumble. Beneath its trim exterior is an equally bare-bones setup; comprising a 1.2GHz Intel Core2 Duo processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM running on the Intel Centrino platform. A weedy Intel GMA X4500HD video card and 128GB solid-state drive complete the underwhelming package. Like most fashion notebooks, it would seem that the Adamo is trying to get by on looks alone. Dell is also offering an upgraded version called the Adamo (Desire), which boasts a 1.4GHz CPU and an additional 2GB of RAM. However, at $4299, it’s even more overpriced than its sibling.

In WorldBench 6, the Dell Adamo (Admire) received a measly score of 40, with half the tests refusing to run. This is a typical result for low-end notebooks, but we were expecting a lot more from the Adamo. After all, it costs up to three times as much as its lowly adversaries. Its graphics performance was equally poor. In 3DMark 06, it scored a pitiful 587, which rules out all but the most primitive 3D applications. We also checked the Adamo’s Windows Experience Index rating, which compares memory, graphics, hard disk and processor speeds. It returned a base score of 3.2; a very modest rating.

Battery life was slightly above average, with our movie playback test lasting 2hr 43min. This should be enough to get you through most feature length films while on the road. However, it's worth noting that the battery is fused to the notebook, which rules out DIY replacements or battery upgrades.

In summary, there’s much to like about the Adamo (Admire), but until Dell manages to merge fashion with functionality, it is bound to remain out of vogue. If you’re a well-to-do fashionista who wants a status symbol to go with your Porsche and monocle, it may fit the bill. Otherwise, wait for the next iteration of the Adamo. With any luck, it will be cheaper, more powerful and just as sexy.

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