Dell Tries To Outdo Apple Design Prowess With Adamo

The stylish, ultraportable laptop features a chassis milled from a single piece of aluminum, a scalloped backlit keyboard, an edge-to-edge glass display, and a choice of onyx or pearl colors.

Dell Adamo Laptop
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Dell Adamo Laptop
Less than an inch thick with a 13-inch screen, the Adamo supports three USB ports and an eSATA jack, which could be used for plugging in an external hard drive.
Dell on Tuesday launched its first stylish, high-end, ultraportable laptop that flexes the company's design muscle against Apple's MacBook Air.

Dell's Adamo is aimed at the affluent PC buyer willing to trade style for horsepower and features found in more mainstream laptops. The system is unique for Dell because it's clearly meant to appeal to people not interested in a low-cost business or consumer system, which is Dell's typical offering.

"While a premium computing experience was assumed for Adamo, the intent was for people to see, touch, and explore Adamo and be rewarded by the select materials and craftsmanship you would expect in a fine watch," Alex Gruzen, senior VP of Dell's consumer products, said in a statement.

While Adamo is unlikely to generate volume sales, the machine, like other high-end systems, makes up the difference with a higher profit margin. Ultraportable laptops, which have full-size keyboards, are lightweight systems that are larger than mini-laptops, called netbooks, but smaller than mainstream systems.

Adamo's stylish features include a chassis milled from a single piece of aluminum, like the MacBook Air; a scalloped backlit keyboard; an edge-to-edge glass display; and a choice of onyx or pearl colors. The system is 0.65 inches at its thinnest point and weighs four pounds, which is a pound more than the Air. Adamo is also a bit larger, at 13 inches wide.

The baseline Adamo version includes a low-power 1.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor. Customers can opt to pay more for a 1.4-GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400 chip. The processor falls short in horsepower compared with the Air's 1.6-GHz Core 2 Duo in the standard configuration and a 1.86-GHz Core 2 Duo in the more expensive model.

The Air arguably has more powerful graphics with the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor versus Adamo's Intel GS45 integrated graphics. However, side-by-side testing of the machines has yet to be done, so it's too early to say whether the Air outperforms Adamo.

The Dell system is available with up to 4 GB of DDR3 memory and includes a 128-GB solid-state drive. Like the Air, the system has no optical drive, but Dell sells an optional external Blu-ray or DVD combo drive. Dell also sells external hard drives for Adamo.

The Adamo has a 13.4-inch display and built in Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless technology. It also has an Ethernet port, something Apple was criticized for not having in the Air. Adamo runs 64-bit Windows Vista and gets up to five hours of battery life, according to Dell.

Dell started taking pre-orders of the Adamo on Tuesday and expects to start shipping the system March 26. The starting price is $1,999, which is more than the Air, which starts at $1,799. Dell, however, is less expensive than another potential competitor, Hewlett-Packard's Voodoo Envy, which starts at $3,000.

Dell introduced Adamo in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The event, however, was meant more as a tease, since no details were disclosed.

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