No! This is NOT a Macbook Air (Dell Adamo XPS Review)

Dell Adamo XPS next to a bag of microwave popcorn and my Palm Pre

When I was selecting a new computer to replace my XPS M1330 (aka Elle) I briefly glanced at the Adamo XPS.  I initially didn’t want it because I wasn’t sure how I’d like the wedge design.  Some of the reviews I read complained about the long end of the laptop digging into your thighs when using it on your lap.  I was also nervous about the hinge when I was typing.  I didn’t want the laptop to move as I typed, so since I wasn’t able to check it out in person I went with my Studio XPS 16.  I brought my laptop to EVO Conference with me, and while I do love my Studio XPS 16 (aka Powder), it is large and a bit heavy to be toting around a conference all day.  For my daily use, it’s perfect, because I love the extra screen real estate and I don’t need it to be extremely portable.  As I was preparing for BlogHer though, I knew that I wouldn’t want to bring Powder.  I’d be walking around at a conference all day, not to mention traveling to New York City.

So I sent a request to Dell to test out the Adamo XPS while I was at BlogHer.  Since I am a Dell Customer Advisory Panel member, they agreed, and sent me the Adamo XPS for a month to use while I was at BlogHer.  The first thing I noticed about the machine is how thin it is!  The Adamo XPS is the thinnest laptop on the market today.  It is AMAZINGLY thin.  I’ve included a picture of it next to a bag of microwave popcorn and my Palm Pre to show how thin it really is.  Yes, I really need a better camera… sorry!  When closed the keyboard nests inside the screen to make it one nice smooth piece.  Next I wanted to check out the two things that made me nervous about the laptop to begin with.  I opened it up and put it on my lap.  It really wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be.  Since the laptop is so light, I never felt like it was digging into my legs.  The second thing I was nervous about was how sturdy the laptop would be as I typed.  I am most definitely NOT a “hunt and peck” typer, so I typically rest my hands on the laptop and type quite quickly.  I knew this would put pressure on the keyboard and thought it may try to close the laptop.  I was pleasantly surprised that it stayed put and didn’t budge a bit.  Even when teetering on my leg it never felt like it was going to close on me. 

With my two fears out of the way, and my trip quickly approaching, I put some files that I’d need on the laptop and loaded some much needed programs such as Tweetdeck.  I also added a couple movies to the laptop to watch while on the airplane.  When I traveled to Texas to go to the Dell Customer Advisory Panel I brought Powder.  When I brought it out to watch a movie on the plane I felt like the laptop was taking over the entire row.  I ended up watching my iPod instead so as not to disturb my neighbors.  With the Adamo XPS loaded up I was ready for my trip!

Traveling with the Adamo XPS (since the laptop was a loaner, poor thing doesn’t have a name) was a dream!  When I was going through security with Powder, it was kind of a pain to take it in and out of the case.  I also had to travel with the Studio XPS 16 when I went to California with my children recently.  It would have been REALLY nice to go through security with the Adamo XPS.  Since I had a baby in one arm, and had to keep my eye on my 4 year old, taking Powder out of it’s case didn’t work out very well with one hand.  Going through security with the Adamo was a breeze though.  Since it is so thin, none of the parts got caught on anything, and it slipped easily in and out of my laptop case (granted I didn’t have my two children traveling with me this time though).  While on the plane it was also really easy to access the laptop.  I didn’t even have to move my laptop case, I just opened it up and slid the laptop out.

When I arrived at the hotel for BlogHer, every time I pulled it out I was asked “Is that a Macbook Air?”.  To which I always replied, “HECK NO!”  I would then show off the wonderful device that is the Dell Adamo XPS.  They were always completely impressed.  I toted the laptop around IN MY PURSE during the entire conference.  Whenever I wanted to take some notes I was able to quickly pull the laptop out and keep track of the various classes I was attending. 

I attended a class on advanced WordPress, and I was able to work on one of my not in use blogs from the laptop just like I was sitting at my main machine back at home.  I also had an emergency come up with one of my clients while I was at the conference and was able to take care of their issues from the laptop without a problem (well, the internet was a bit slow, but that was because there were about 2400 people on the wifi at the hotel). 

While it is super thin, performance wasn’t really an issue.  It has a Core 2 Duo processor, which is actually the same processor in my main laptop at home.  It also has 4 GB of RAM (my old computer also had 4), and a 128 GB Solid State hard drive.  Since it is so thin they would not have been able to put a larger regular hard drive in the chassis (the casing of the laptop).  It also does NOT have a CD/DVD drive.  I would say that I rarely use a CD/DVD drive except for when installing programs.  Almost everything is downloadable these days, and I actually have an external CD/DVD drive at home, so I can always just plug that in if I needed it.  I never missed this functionality at all.  The one port I WAS sad to lose was an SD card reader.  I don’t even know where the USB cord is for my camera because I always just pull the SD card out and take the pictures right from the card.  While at BlogHer I wanted to upload the video of me speaking at the Voices of the Year Keynote.  I had to put my SD card in my roommate’s camera, and plug her camera into my laptop in order to transfer the video. 

Speaking of the Voices of the Year keynote.  I also found it amusing that 2 of the 3 “Geeky/Nerdy” speakers used a laptop to read their post from instead of a printed out piece of paper, myself and Liz Henry.  It wakes up from standby very quickly, so I was able to keep the laptop closed until right before I went out on stage, and then opened it and walked out and read my post.  I closed the laptop and carried it offstage, as if it was a piece of paper, because it seriously felt almost as thin as one.

All in all, I say bravo to the designers at Dell!  This ultra portable laptop has become my favorite new toy.  I even tweeted that the laptop may happen to get “lost in the mail” on it’s way back to Dell headquarters, because I like it so much!  It feels completely solid, not flimsy like I was nervous it would, and is definitely a head turner.  Especially when people discover that it’s a PC and not a Mac.  Long live the PC!

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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