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Photos: Cracking open the Dell Adamo

TechRepublic disassembles the upscale, ultrathin laptop and even compares it with Apple's rival MacBook Air.

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CNET Reviews staff
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1 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Take a look inside the Dell Adamo

Bill Detwiler at CNET News' sister site TechRepublic got his hands on an Dell Adamo laptop and decided, with help, to take it apart piece by piece for readers' enjoyment. The following is a paired down version of his 78-slide gallery.

Dell hopes to take a little air out of Apple's sails with the Adamo. This upscale laptop packs a lot of tech into a stylish, ultrathin package. But, it's going to cost you. Our $1,999 model includes a 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2GB 800MHz DDR3 dual-channel memory, 128GB solid state drive, and 13.4-inch 16:9 WLED display.

In a special partnership with iFixit, TechRepublic brings you this gallery of the cracking open process. iFixit is a one-stop-shop for the parts, tools, and step-by-step guides needed to repair iPods, iPhones, Macs, and almost any Apple product. Follow along as iFixit engineers disassemble the Dell Adamo and expose the tech inside.

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Adamo packing material

Now we know why the packing box was so large: the Adamo is encased in a "time-capsule" plastic casing, which in turn is protected during shipping via black plastic shipping caps.
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Adamo and matching 'onyx' accessories

All our accessories were black, matching nicely with our "onyx" Adamo. We assume (given the price tag) your accessories will be white if you purchase the "pearl" version. The AC adapter is 45 watts, just like the MacBook Air's. The power brick design is elegant, but the actual plug isn't nearly as slick as the Air's MagSafe connector.
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Adamo before the cracking open begins

Adamo before the cracking open begins.
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Adamo is wider and deeper

Adamo, meet MacBook Air. Now that you're acquainted...

The Adamo's dimensions, as compared with the MacBook Air:

• Width: 0.23 inches larger

• Depth: 0.56 inches larger

• Height: 0.11 inches thinner

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Painted on Intel and Windows logos

The Intel and Windows logos are not the typical stickers; they're painted into the case.
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7 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Adamo, MacBook Air, and Dell Mini

Adamo under a MacBook Air and a Dell Mini (top).
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8 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Bottom panel locking mechanism

The Adamo uses a very slick locking system, shown here, to hold the bottom panel in place.

The locking system utilizes three tracks of pins that span the inner left, right, and front edges of the computer. The pins lock into slots machined into the bottom panel, creating a very tight and secure connection.

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Gently slide the metal ear to the right

The bottom panel is removed by simply sliding the metal ear (shown in yellow) connected to each set of pins (shown in red) to the right using a thin metal spudger.
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10 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Lifting off the bottom panel

Once the pins are released, the bottom panel simply lifts up.
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11 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Removing the battery cable

The battery connects to the motherboard with an orange ribbon cable. This cable should be disconnected before entirely removing the bottom panel.
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12 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

The Adamo and Air with bottom panels removed

The Adamo and MacBook Air with bottom panels removed. The MacBook Air we're using in this guide is the original model (released over a year ago). Despite it's age, the Air still packs a 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 33-percent faster than our Adamo's 1.2 GHz processor.

To its credit, the high-end Adamo does include 4 GB of built-in RAM, double that of the Air.

Dell labels a lot more parts than Apple. This definitely makes our job easier, even though it's not quite as photogenic.

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Bottom panel and battery

The bottom panel contains an integrated 6 cell Li-Polymer battery pack.

You can recycle the battery...in Japan.

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Battery specs

The 11.1 V battery is rated at 40 Watt hours, an improvement over the MacBook Air's 7.2 V, 37 Watt hour battery. (Dell's manual says 12.6 V, but we trust the battery more than their writers.)

The Adamo's advertised operating time is five hours, outliving Apple's claims for the MacBook Air by 30 minutes.

According to the manual, the battery weighs in at 489 grams. That's 27 percent of the Adamo's weight. In comparison, the MacBook Air's battery weighs in at 287 grams, only 21 percent of the Air's total weight.

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15 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Samsung chips on the solid state drive

We've just removed the 128GB solid state drive. The drive is a thin 128GB uSATA MLC. This particular drive utilizes 16 Samsung 64 gigabit multi-level cell (MLC) flash chips.

Impressively, the specs listed on the drive indicate a maximum power consumption of only 1.05 watts and an operating shock of 1500G.

The solid state drive's thickest point is the 4mm SATA connector. The rest of the drive is a scant 2.9 mm.

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16 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Ambient light sensor

We believe this is an ambient light sensor to support the Adamo's backlit keyboard. Dell has used light sensors in a few other recent notebooks.
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Wireless cards

The Adamo has no shortage of wireless connectivity possibilities. This machine was the low-end model, so we only received two of the three wireless types.
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Anatel Bluetooth board

Surprisingly, the Bluetooth board is twice the size of the 802.11n card.
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802.11n wireless card removed

The printed user's guide that came with our Adamo says the machine includes 803.11n Wireless LAN. We're not sure if that's a typo, or something new we don't know about yet.
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Gently disconnect and peel away the wireless card ribbon cable

Gently disconnect and peel away the wireless card ribbon cable The ribbon cable is held securely in place with adhesive, and peeling it up requires some patience.
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Lifting out the wireless data board

After removing the wireless data board's screws, you can now lift the wireless data board away from the Adamo chassis.
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Disconnect the remaining, visible ribbon cables

We disconnected several ribbon cables from the motherboard before proceeding. Six Phillips screws hold the motherboard and its attached heat sink and fan in place.
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Removing the heatsink from the motherboard

We've just removed the heat sink from the motherboard. The heat sink is pretty tiny, but we assume a 1.2 GHz Core 2 Duo processor won't get that hot.
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Motherboard - Top

You can clearly see the 2 GB 800MHz DDR3 memory in the center of the top of the motherboard.
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Motherboard - Bottom

Yes, the processors are soldered to the motherboard (bottom shown here). That's not a surprise, and hopefully you're not purchasing this machine to get the latest and greatest in processor technology.
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Ports are integrated into the motherboard

Unfortunately, all the ports are integrated into the motherboard. Repair will not be cheap if something goes wrong.
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Lifting out the keyboard

Here we're lifting out the keyboard.
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Keyboard removed

The Adamo will likely be an excellent choice for people with large fingers. The letter keys on the Adamo have 30 percent more surface area than those on the MacBook Air (above).
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Quanta Computers label on keyboard

At least the keyboard (and probably the whole machine) is produced by Quanta Computers. It's the world's largest notebook manufacturer and makes machines for both Apple and Dell.
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Windows product key hidden under hinge cover

Dell hides your Windows product key under here. That's certainly a smart move, since the sticker doesn't exactly blend in with the Adamo's black onyx finish.
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31 of 36 iFixit for TechRepublic

Removing more screws from the display assembly

We're removing screws from the display assembly. Four Phillips on the bottom, two on each side.
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Adamo WLED display removed

After more screw removal, free at last! It's a beautiful display, except for the mass of antenna wires. It would definitely be a prettier picture if we got out the scissors.

This display has a resolution of 1366x768. That's slightly different than the 1280x800 resolution on the MacBook Air. You'll get an extra 26,624 pixels if you choose the Adamo. The manual lists the display's maximum power consumption as only 3.6 watts.

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Display hinge

A display hinge.
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Synaptics pointing device

Synaptics pointing device.
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Case fan

The case fan.
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Dell Adamo completely disassembled

And here's the whole Adamo (disassembled) enchilada...

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