Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is the Dell Adamo More Beauty than Brains?

In a world that seems to be constantly trying to catch up with Apple, it's really no surprise that Dell has just released their response to the MacBook Air, known simply at the Adamo.  At only .65 inches thick, it gives the Air a run for its money in the ultra-slim category.  But does it measure up in technology?

I started my learning experience by visiting the Adamo's public relations website, www.AdamoByDell.com.  Like something from a runway in Paris, the Adamo's website more style than substance.  You get an eye-full, for sure.  Slender models clutching and caressing an even more slender notebook computer.  What you don't get, however, are any sort of specifications.  So I moved on to plain old, traditional, not-so-sexy www.dell.com for more details.

Continuing with the sexified theme, Dell offers two starting packages, which they refer to as "Admire" and "Desire".  The "Admire" package offers a 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and a 128GB solid state hard drive as a starting point.  The "Desire" package bumps it up to a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of DDR3, and adds mobile broadband to the mix.  At the time of this writing, "Admire" is going for $1,999 and "Desire" is priced at $2,699.

Since we're throwing all caution to the wind, and money is no object, let's take a look at the "Desire" package.  After selecting the package, you're given the option to add accessories.  In the interest of fairness, I'm going to stick with the base "Desire" package.  However, if you're so inclined, external hard drives, CD/DVD burners, cases, and other accessories can be had with the same Adamo look, of course for an Adamo price.

Clicking the "Buy Now" button finally gets us to a page (the Cart Summary, of all places) that gives us the Intel CPU model number.  So now we know the following about Adamo "Desire":

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 (3MB Cache, 1.4GHz clock speed, 800MHz Front-side Bus)
Memory: 4GB of DDR3 running at 800MHz
Hard Drive: 128GB solid state
Display: 13.4 inch WLED Display (1366x768 resolution) with webcam
Video System: Intel GS45 Integrated Graphics with 256MB shared memory
Networking: Gigabit Ethernet, Intel 5300 WLAN (802.11n), Bluetooth, Dell Wireless 5530 Broadband card
Battery: 40WHr Lithium Polymer boasting over 4 hours of life (depending on usage)

Really not bad.  Dell's got a pretty strong contender.  So let's take a look at Apple's MacBook Air.

To be fair, I've decided to compare the Dell Adamo to the higher-end MacBook Air, pricing in at $2,499.  I picked the "Desire" Adamo, so I've got to do the same for Apple.

Finding the specs on the Air was no problem on www.apple.com.  All you've got to do is click "Mac" at the top of the homepage, then find the Air in the lineup along the top of the page.  Once you click on the Air, choose "Tech Specs" and you're where you need to be.

Here are the Air's specifications:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo (6MB Cache, 1.86Ghz clock speed, 1066MHz Front-side Bus)
Memory: 2GB of DDR3 running at 1066MHz
Hard Drive: 128GB solid state
Display: 13.3 inch LED-backlit glossy display (1280x800 resolution) with webcam
Video System: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB shared memory
Networking: Optional USB Ethernet Adaptor, AirPort Extreme (802.11n), Bluetooth
Battery: 37WHr Lithium Polymer boasting over 4 hours of life (depending on usage)

So there it is, by the numbers.  Is the Adamo going to out-perform the Air?  I'm not entirely sure yet.  Certainly, the Adamo has the potential.  Looking closely, however, it would appear that the Air still has the Adamo beat in certain key areas.  Front-side bus speed is huge when it comes to CPU performance, as well as cache size.  Since both machines use Intel chips, a fair comparison can be made.  I think Dell is going to have to step up their specs a little bit to edge out the $200 cheaper Air, especially for customers who are both Apple and Microsoft savvy.

The computer world will be watching the clash of the hardware giants.  I guess time will tell who comes out on top with the thinnest gear on the market.

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