Dell just unveiled its new luxury line of laptops, called Adamo, today. I just received one from the company to look at while I’m in Austin. It’s as slim as the supermodels the company features in its promotional materials for the device, and features some nice, etched geometrical patterns on its aluminum case. It’s not as sleek as a MacBook Air (which, full disclosure, I use at home for my own personal computing) but maybe that’s its strength—it seems sturdier.
The keys are shaped so they are slighly concave in the middle, and feature a stylish, bold typeface for the characters. I met recently with Ed Boyd, who oversees the consumer-products design at Dell, who said the work of architect Frank Gehry—best known for his dramatic, swooping buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain—influenced the design of this computer, among other inspirations.
At $1,999, it's more than an Air but less than HP's Voodoo laptops. So some might see it as a relatively affordable high-end product. Or a much more expensive alternative to one of Dell's mini-notebooks or laptops, which have been getting more stylish in terms of available colors and patterns but maintain a low price-point (now even lower than $300) and could be more recession-relevant. Without giving up style.
I also have with me some samples of Dell's collaboration with Tumi, the luxury-luggage maker. One that is quite impressive is a laptop case for women that's reminiscent of the classic Hermes Kelly handbag. It's clearly an example of how the company is hoping to appeal to buyers who are style-conscious yet who would rather invest in something more necessary than discretionary--i.e., a laptop case versus a high-end purse. I'll have the Adamo and its Tumi bag on hand with me at my panel on the convergence of fashion and technology at South x Southwest on March 17 at 5pm, and would be happy to show anyone who's interested in seeing it first hand. I know, I know, fashion seems very un-recession right now. And of course we'll address that. But I hope to also address how researching fashion and hiring designers as consultants on interface and form-factor issues for technology projects might actually help companies drive invention.