Traveling with the MacBook Air Butt Kicking Dell Adamo 9.99

Posted by By Rob Enderle, principal analyst, Enderle Group

I have been using a Dell Adamo 9.99 for several weeks now in its pre-production form.   I’m at EMC’s analyst event this week in Boston which meant I had to spend around 5 hours on the plane with the box and this is the only laptop I’m traveling with.   Given how much I write, leaving my trusted Panasonic Toughbook at home was a risky decision, but it’s actually worked out rather well so far.  Let’s talk about that this week.

What’s Cool about Thin
I travel light, I mean really light, one small backpack for three days,  With a normal laptop there are serious problems with getting everything in the backpack and when I pull the laptop out to work, a serious risk of exploding my underwear all over the room.   This stuff is under pressure and it gets worse on the trip back (dirty this stuff gets much bulkier).  

While there is nothing like a dirty sock to the face to start a fascinating conversation, particularly if the person sitting next to you is trying to eat, but I’d just as soon avoid this experience.  Something to do with being anti-social I think…

With a thin laptop like this I actually have left over room and it comes out easy without the jack-in-the-box experience of dirty clothes show and tell.   This product is actually thinner than my 2nd generation Kindle with cover and slides in and out of a packed case almost effortlessly.  

Cool but Practical
The last Adamo was really cool but with a glass and brushed black finish it simply seemed too fragile to want to risk traveling with.   It fingerprinted badly and while I wouldn’t suggest chowing down on a greasy burger and using this laptop either, it doesn’t require a polishing cloth to keep the product looking good.  

Don’t get me wrong, if this were my laptop and not a loaner I’d still be tempted to have it custom painted, but in its current form you don’t feel like you should be handling the notebook with velvet gloves.  Good thing because my wife made me give mine up, she felt it they were making the wrong kind of statement.   Perhaps wearing them to meetings was a mistake.

Most thin notebooks are hot and some are really noisy, the 9.99 is neither.   While I’m kind of missing the ability to use this as an iron or a somewhat reliable birth control method I’m appreciating that it only gets hot in areas that don’t touch me and is dead quiet.  Granted I kind of missed the drunken gerbil on a treadmill sound that many notebooks put out in my hotel room but I got over it in like 10 seconds. 

Best Feature
The best feature has to be the electronic latch.  One swipe of your finger and the keyboard drops out of the screen easily without the typical gymnastics of trying to both hold a latch and lift the screen or pry the notebook open. 

Sometimes it’s the little things but this catch is simply cook, a swipe on the lid, a little click, and bombs away! (Might be nice to have an audio file that ran when this happened, could really perk up Homeland Security meetings).
 
Battery Life and In Praise of Virgin America
Dell didn’t send me the extended battery and normal battery life is only about two hours.   That’s not enough but I flew on Virgin America.  Not only did they have a ton of TV shows and Movies (on demand) that I could watch to keep me from actually doing any work, each seat had a three prong AC plug and a USB plug so I could charge my phone and my laptop on the plane.  

In addition, for $10 I could get wireless and there was enough room so that my laptop didn’t feel like it was trying to mate with my belly  on the flight (my belly has been growing since my last AA flight making me wonder if I’m going to have a baby laptop).   I could work, watch movies, and give my wife advice all at the same time.  I should note that the “give my wife advice” thing is not a best practice.

As it turned out, I didn’t need the extended battery but man am I ever a fan of Virgin America now (even the food and service was great). 

Wrapping Up:  My Favorite Laptop
I really like working on this new laptop and it is pre-production which means the production version will be even better.   It is kind of amazing that something this cool and good looking is actually very usable.   It is also likely a precursor for what will be coming next decade, think of the 9.99 as the first in what will likely be an increasingly amazing set of PC designs that are coming.   About time Apple had some real competition.  

Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts. Inquiry Analysts
are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and
either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic,
on how to best take advantage of them. Currently he provides his
services to most of the major technology and media companies.  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.