by Ashley Laurel Wilson

Apple’s MacBook Air Laptop Has New Rival in Dell’s Adamo

Jan 27, 20095 mins
AppleLaptopsTechnology Industry

Apple's claim on "world's thinnest notebook" no longer true.

Rumors about a rival to Apple’s MacBook Air first emerged a few weeks ago in the form of Dell’s much anticipated Adamo. Yet although other big name companies like Toshiba, Samsung, HP and MSI have created their own slim laptops, there seems to be extra hype surrounding Dell’s Adamo. The question is, will the Adamo, or even MSI’s X-Slim Series X320, win this round as the thin laptop favorite?

The MacBook Air, packaged in an environmentally friendly aluminum “shell” —just like the MacBook Pro before it— was the first Apple laptop to weigh less than four pounds at the time of its Macworld Expo 2008 debut. Bill Begg, owner of Begg Technology Group, finds his MacBook Air exciting overall. “As a design and engineering exercise, the Air is an impressive feat. It is a fully realized laptop with a top notch OS,” he says. (Begg has been using his MacBook Air for about two months.)

He and his girlfriend both wanted Macs for a variety of reasons, such as iPhone app development and using software like Office 2008, Word, PowerPoint and Safari. They felt the MacBook Air was the best option. “The Air itself was the choice over a MacBook due to the form factor and weight,” he says. “I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of “that’s cool” to the decision.”

However, Begg also says Apple missed the mark on cost versus value. “As an everyday laptop, I’m not convinced it’s such a great buy,” he says. “It is expensive for what you get, and can go way above sticker if you start adding peripherals like an optical drive (CD-ROM), video cables, solid state drive, etc. When you start adding those items to your shopping cart, you increase the weight of the overall package and the cost of the system as a whole.”

The Air is light in weight and on features. It lacks built-in wireless, which Dell and HP thin laptops both offer, is slower than other MacBooks, and its five-hour battery life means those who need to use the Air for longer should pack an extra battery. It also has only 80 GB of storage. Although Apple also released a new version of the MacBook Air— which offers upgrades like 120 GB of storage, immensely better graphics and two included adapters to Air packages to make up for its three ports—Apple’s Air might just be outdone soon, if it hasn’t been already.

Before Dell’s Adamo arrived on the scene, companies like Toshiba, Samsung and HP created their own slim version laptops.

Released in July 2007, Toshiba’s R500 earned consumer interest for being the lightest notebook to date. Weighing in at 2.4 pounds, the R500 also had a 12″ LCD, and an optical drive. Yet although Toshiba updated its next round of R500s with larger hard drives and more RAM, the R500, costing just over $2,000, got lost in the market dust—partially due to its dim screen quality and its slowness compared to other thin laptops, like the Air.

The Voodoo Envy 133, released by HP in June 2008, isn’t quite as thin as the MacBook Air—7″ thick, 9.04″, yet weighs less than three pounds. Its ports include a USB 2.0 (2), headphone/microphone, e-SATA/USB, Ethernet, and HDMI. It operates Windows Vista and Voodoo IOS (Linux) and is priced at more than $2,000.

Samsung’s X360 laptop, released in September 2008, is just barely lighter than the Air—2.79 lbs to be exact, while the Air is 3.0 lbs—but generally thicker, at 0.6 inches&as opposed to the Air’s 0.16 to 0.76 inch thickness.

Though Toshiba, Samsung and HP have all given Apple a run for its money in the thin laptop category, it looks as though the biggest competitor of Apple’s MacBook Air may be new on the scene. The Micro-star International’s (MSI) X-Slim Series X320 and Dell’s Adamo both made appearances at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, but Dell’s keeping the information about the Adamo more heavily under wraps. The X320 notebook is just slightly larger than the Air in terms of size dimensions, but lighter, weighing in at just under three pounds. It runs Vista Premium OS and has three USB ports. But it’s the Adamo that’s said to be the true up and coming rival to the Air.

The “ultraportable” machine, as the Adamo’s commonly referred to, is part of Dell’s new line of luxury laptops, but not many other details have yet been reveled so it’s hard to know how exactly the Adamo will stand up in the marketplace. Speculation is rampant, even without much information from Dell, and though some industry insiders believe that the Adamo is Dell’s response to Apple’s Air, only time will tell.

According to Begg, “If someone is looking for a small form-factor Windows machine, I think the Dell has a chance. If Dell’s goal is to compete on the “cool” factor, I think they are taking a huge risk. Apple seems to have that market locked up. “Cool” and good design aren’t necessarily the same thing I have to admit that I’d bet on the Air to maintain it’s post as the “cool” one, regardless of how many Adamos Dell moves.”