A little more than a year after the launch of the MacBook Air, a new luxury laptop has arrived from Dell. This calls for another look at the notebook versus Netbook argument, the computer equivalent of bourgeoisie versus proletariat. In this case, Air versus Aspire; Adamo versus Eee.
Lightweight luxury laptops have been around for a while (think Sony Vaio and Toshiba Portege ultraportables), but the age of head-turning, ultrathin designs dawned with the 13-inch light-and-wide MacBook Air, the HP Voodoo Envy 133, and the ThinkPad X300.
Now the Dell Adamo joins the stable of conspicuously consumed luxury laptops. The Adamo soars along with Apple's Air in the rarefied pricing altitudes of $1,799 to $2,699.
At the other extreme are Asus and Acer, down-to-earth working-class designs which offer portability for a lot less. Though both companies offer expensive laptops too, they have gained prominence with their inexpensive Netbooks: the Eee PC and Aspire One, respectively. These typically fall into the sub-$500 range.
Dell's entry into the luxury laptop market was replete with all the trappings of a high-end product rollout, including a lavish, overdone Adamo Web site (as in, I couldn't click on "skip intro" fast enough) of beautiful people clutching computers. (And viewing the site, this question comes to mind: Is the Adamo meant more as a Dell showcase item--like a piece of finery set in a vitrine, to be admired but not purchased?)
Juxtapose this with what's happening in the Netbook space: inconspicuous but slow-but-steady creep into a higher-performance bracket. This trend is being driven by better Intel graphics (the GN40 is now capable of 720p HD video), with some Netbook designers entertaining the idea of adding even higher-performance Nvidia graphics. Reports also claim the Atom processor will be ratcheted up to 2.0GHz.
Will one design philosophy eventually prevail? Gravitating to a sweet-spot somewhere in the middle?
Let's do a little comparison shopping. … Read more