Dell's Adamo vs Apple's Macbook Air

By Mike on 1:34 pm

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Thin and light seems to be in, with the netbook craze and the Macbook Air. Dell released it's Adamo today, and all the tech pundits are putting it forth as an Air killer. Well, maybe if the Air were castrated and got fat eating a bucket of ice cream after loosing it's manhood. Dell doesn't say how much it weighs but it does have the same screen size and foot print as the Air. It has a brushed aluminum chassis that comes in either silver ("pearl") or black ("onyx"). The hardware in the system is nothing to write home about. It features an Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor running at 1.2ghz. It uses only 10w of power so it should offer excellent battery life but will likely struggle with more demanding applications. The Adamo is also one of Dell's first systems to use DDR3. However, it only runs at 800mhz compared to the Air's 1066mhz. While DDR3 uses less power than DDR2 due to it's lower voltages, it also has higher latencies. It is likely the system would preform better had they used DDR2-800 instead, which is the speed non-overclocking DDR2 currently maxes out. DDR2 is also significantly cheaper than DDR3. The one advantage the Adamo has in terms of memory is upgradability. Apple rather stupidly soldered the RAM to the motherboard and provided no slots to upgrade the Air with additional memory. Lastly, Dell went for Intel's G45 chipset which uses the GMA HD4500 graphics processor with 256mb of shared RAM. It's underpowered compared to the Geforce 9400M, which is probably twice as fast. As for the rest, the Dell is about equal in terms of specs to the Air. It has no optical drive like the Air but it does have a gigabit ethernet port, which the Air does not. Screen resolution is the same in terms of megapixels though the Adamo uses a 16:9 aspect ration compared to the Air's more conventional 16:10. The Adamo's screen is therefore more ideal for displaying widescreen content. Battery life was not mentioned by Dell. It has a 40wH lithium-polymer pack compared to the 37wH in the Air. However, we can bet it will have equal or lower battery life than the Air. This is primarily because OS X has better power management features than Vista does. Lastly, the Adamo does feature a 128gb SSD as stock, while it costs an extra $500 to install it in the Air. The Adamo costs $1999 for the base model while their Air is $1799.

So lets recap to see what each has in favour over the other.

Dell Adamo
-Gigabit Ethernet
-Upgradable RAM
-SSD as stock

Apple Macbook Air
-1.6ghz CPU, 400mhz faster
-1.06ghz bus speed over 800mhz
-Faster graphics processor
-Faster 1.06ghz RAM

So as you can see, the Adamo fails to be a Macbook Air killer. It's more expensive and severely under powered for its price point.

Now forget about the Mac vs PC debate for a minute here. Both these systems weigh about 3lbs. They're being marketed as high end lifestyle systems. However, is this really worth it. Consider that companies such as Apple, Dell, and Sony sell quality systems with superior specs for as much as $1000 less; same screen size, same foot print, but only 1lb more. The problem with these ultra thin systems is that there are simply too many trade offs involved in slimming them down. Another thing worth asking is why is Dell releasing what I would classify as a luxury consumer novelty at a time when people aren't buying systems in that price range. They're too little for too much. My advice would be, if you need a really small and mobile computer, go with a good quality netbook. Dell's own Inspiron Mini would be a good choice, has up to a 12'' screen, weighs the same as the Adamo, will have better battery life than the Adamo, but is only a fraction of the cost. If you still want something with more power, go with the cheaper, slightly bulkier alternatives.

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