Dell Adamo review

£1329
Price when reviewed

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.

Warranty

Warranty1yr on-site, 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions331 x 243 x 18mm (WDH)
Weight1.800kg
Travelling weight1.9kg
Weight with extended batteryN/A
Travelling weight with extended batteryN/A

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo U9300
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Screen size13.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 4500
Graphics card RAM256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1

Drives

Capacity128GB
Hard disk usable capacity119GB
Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA
Hard diskSamsung SSD
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveN/A

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readerno
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetDell HD Audio
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 3min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 31min
Overall application benchmark score0.68
Office application benchmark score0.72
2D graphics application benchmark score0.76
Encoding application benchmark score0.59
Multitasking application benchmark score0.65
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery partition

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