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Default Dell faces hurdles in luxury laptop push (Netbooks) - 04-12-2009, 04:36 PM

Updated at 9:10 a.m. PDT: correcting for refurbished Apple MacBook Air price.
Dell's ultra-sleek Adamo is ill-timed and may be grasping for cachet that's not there.
Gizmodo summarized its review of the Adamo by saying: "Just don't dare buy this computer until Dell comes to their senses and realizes that $2,000+ is absurd for a 4-pound laptop with no graphics muscle."
Though I think Gizmodo misses the mark about "graphics muscle" (ultraportables are not designed or marketed as graphics powerhouses, or anything close to it), the reviewer is right about price--and high price implies cachet. Only Apple (and maybe the ThinkPad x301) can command the kind of cachet that demands $2,500 for a high-end laptop (i.e., the MacBook Air).

But there's a greater force conspiring against the Dell Adamo and even the Apple MBA: the Netbook.
High-end Netbooks, like the just-announced 11.6-inch Acer Aspire One, are priced well below $700, making it hard to plop down $2,700 for the 1.4GHz Adamo. Yes, the four-pound Dell is a stunning, superior design (0.65-inches thick, machined-aluminum chassis) with better hardware (13.4-inch 16:9 HD display with edge-to-edge glass) . But is it $2,000 better? In the age of the two-pound $500 "luxury" Netbook, definitely not.
And it's going to get worse. The Netbook's cousin-to-be, the cheap ultraportable, is going to make things even more uncomfortable for the Adamos of the world. A wave of $500-$900 ultrathin MacBook Air-like laptops are expected this summer. If these become popular, they will not only threaten the Adamo but possibly Netbooks too. (The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv2 is one of the first of many inexpensive ultraportables to come).
At the very least, this new category of laptops could push Netbooks down into the $100 to $300 price tier, instead of the typical $300 to $500 seen today.
Don't want a Netbook? Even "pricey" ultraportables can be had for under $1,300. A refurbished 1.8GHz MacBook Air with a solid-state drive is available today for $1,299 (not $1,099 as originally stated) direct from Apple (in my experience, many refurbished units are virtually new). Still want to fork over $2,700? Didn't think so.
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