It is interesting to see how Michael Dell built up his company from its early days in a garage, and the Dell Adamo is one of the best looking notebooks the company has produced in recent memory. While Dell did spruce up their line over the years with better and more interesting exterior designs, even enlisting the help of notable artists to create skins, there is nothing quite like the sophistication that the Dell Adamo offers. We saw the Dell Adamo (Onyx) when it was introduced but for a few minutes by a model at the Dell press conference at CES earlier this year in Las Vegas, and to tell you the truth, it didn’t look like much from afar. The Dell Adamo then was considered to be a new range under the Dell umbrella – it is not a netbook, and neither is it an ordinary notebook. In fact, Dell was entering unchartered territory back then with this luxury notebook. The Dell Adamo will come in two colours – Onyx and Pearl, and will be available in two configurations – Admire and Desire, where they retail for $1,999 and $2,699, respectively. It is the Dell Adamo Admire that we received for this review.
The Dell Adamo is supposed to ‘shock and awe’ whoever looks at it, and this is a success in our books from the moment it was taken out from its plastic case. Not exactly the most environmentally friendly of packaging, mind you, but then again luxury never really bothered about their carbon footprint contribution, right? This is to date the best looking Windows-powered notebook I’ve seen (and used). Aluminium is the material of choice for the Dell Adamo, where it will also be complemented by tempered glass for that added touch of gloss alongside finishes of metal and a matte grain that would form most of the case.
The 13.4” display does not disappoint when in use, although it will need some persuasion to open from a closed position. Once you’re done with your work or whatever you wanted to do with the Dell Adamo, closing it provides a satisfying thud. The tempered glass running at all the sides adds a touch of elegance, but it does attract is fair bit of fingerprints from the curious.
I found the backlit keyboard to be extremely helpful, especially when working in the dark. Don’t ask me why, I somehow prefer to work with the lights turned off at night as it tends to boost my productivity a fair bit. In addition, I do my bit for mother nature without consuming even more electricity, right? Well, back to the chiclet-style backlit keyboard – it is full size to make for comfortable typing, but it does require a fair bit of usage before one gets used to the relative lack of tactile feedback. I like my keys to respond in a way where I know I’ve pressed them, so this is but a minor annoyance. Nice to know that the back light is also adjustable according to your liking.
As for the the touchpad, this one goes one up on regular notebooks as it boasts multitouch capability, where you can use basic gestures like a pinching action to zoom out from a photo among others. For those who find this to be more of a novelty than anything else, you can always disable it, using the touchpad the way it has been used for many years now. It would be interesting to see whether future iterations of the Adamo, if any, will come with a clickable multitouch touchpad as found on the range of Apple MacBook and MacBook Pros.
Strangely enough, the Dell Adamo isn’t exactly featherweight by any means despite looking slim, presumably because of the materials that were thrown into the mix during its manufacturing process.
I would also have liked to see a better positioning of the speakers to face the user instead of facing outwards. This is but a mere annoyance, and won’t take anything more than a pair of headphones to solve, but it does ruffle my feathers to know that forking out a good two grand for this puppy doesn’t solve every design need. Nice to see that Dell has done a good job in placing most of the ports behind to maintain the overall clean design even when they’re fully plugged in with various devices such as USB flash drives.
Performance-wise, the Adamo isn’t anything to shout about. Sure, it has the relevant hardware to handle all your word processing and spreadsheet needs, but attempt to have some gaming done on it and you’ll be sorely disappointed. First of all, there isn’t an optical drive for you to install your games from a DVD, and to make matters worse, there is no dedicated graphics chip to handle the latest desktop entertainment titles at a decent frame rate. Steer clear of the Adamo if you’re looking for a gaming notebook – otherwise, this is a very nice office-centric machine to bring home if your company’s budget can afford it.
Dell has decided to include a 128GB solid state drive (SSD) instead of a regular hard drive, making it boot up faster than normal. Unfortunately, while the SSD is virtually silent and won’t make any noise at all compared to a hard drive, the fans at the back seem to be in action most of the time, hence forcing you to get used to its whirring sensation while working. This pretty much defeats the purpose of having an SSD installed in the first place…
One thing I must admire about the Adamo is its display – while it won’t be able to handle full HD movies (1080p), it does a pretty good job if you’ve got 720p videos to play on this puppy. Images are crystal clear, and you don’t have to worry about your eyes feeling strained after a while due to its clarity and image quality in a widescreen aspect ratio.
The Adamo lasted around three plus hours when running a number of office programs in the background with Wi-Fi turned on and YouTube videos being streamed constantly, while Bluetooth has been turned off.
Is the Dell Adamo worth bringing home? That depends on your personality, needs and above all, budget. If you love showboating and have the dough to spare, why not? It won’t run serious games and is only good for basic office work, but it is guaranteed to give you that smug look each time you pull it out from your notebook bag. Of course, folks who want the most bang for their buck will definitely look elsewhere. Check out our second Adamo photo gallery here.
- Processor: Intel Centrino 2 Core 2 Duo Processor (1.2GHz)
- Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit Edition
- RAM: 2GB 800MHz DDR3 dual-channel
- Storage: 128GB solid state drive
- Display: 13.4″ 16:9 (High Definition; 720p) WLED display
- Full-size keyboard with back-lighting
- Scalloped, metallic key cap design
- Integrated 1.3 megapixel camera
- Integrated digital microphone
- IO: Display Port (with external DVI adapter included), USB 2.0 x3 (1 eSATA combination), Audio Out and integrated RJ-45 port
- Communications: Gigabit LOM, Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11n
- Dimensions: (W x D x H) 13.03″ x 9.5″ x 0.65″
- Weight: 1.81 kg
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