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Dell Adamo Review — Macho Outside, Sissy Inside 144

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the playing-catch-up dept.
Odelia Lee writes with a full review of Dell's new Adamo slimtop over at Gizmodo. While it may have an sleek exterior there are definite gaps (both literal and figurative) in their engineering. "The Adamo is both a compliment and an insult to Dell engineering. It's possibly the most beautiful computer Dell has ever manufactured, but I'm not sure that Dell has caught up to competitors in either aesthetics or power. There have been lots of qualitative Adamo reviews out there, but we got the first of the units that will actually ship to customers, so it's time for real benchmarks. As it happens, performance is really what's at stake here."
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Dell Adamo Review — Macho Outside, Sissy Inside

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  • Hey Mike... (Score:5, Funny)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:30PM (#27535281) Homepage

    Why don't you just wind it down and give the money back to your shareholders? Or stick to servers.

  • Will the Dell Adamo be able to play Eveo Online at least?
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:40PM (#27535435) Homepage

    I think the article summary nails it.

    The Adamo is a bit of a strange beast. It's not as feathery as the Lenovo X301 or the MacBook Air, and even with that extra pound of heft, it's (overall) not as powerful as the MacBook Airâ"a computer that's incidentally cheaper than the Adamo in its base configuration.

    Bigger, heavier, louder (which, to me, is half the point of something like the air), integrated battery (just like the air), bad performance, higher price... what's the point?

    It's nice looking, but it sounds like an Air is a much better all around computer. The only thing in it's favor is the higher max RAM (Apple will probably change that) and the integrated 3G option (I'd expect Apple to change that too). Gizmodo is also right that nVidia's next chipset for netbooks will outperform this, at 1/5th the price. It has eSata too though, which is a plus.

    Nice try Dell. It is certainly very nice visually. But you need some substance to go with that, or at least a cheaper price point.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nsayer (86181)

      The only thing in it's favor is the higher max RAM (Apple will probably change that) and the integrated 3G option (I'd expect Apple to change that too).

      Why?

      I can almost see a case being made for 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 (for folks to run a VM with Windows, perhaps), but if you want higher performing graphics, you're going to see either an increase in weight or a decrease in battery life, neither of which is acceptable in that form factor product.

      I suspect that Dell didn't get the memo, which is why theirs is heavier and louder.

      • by salimma (115327)

        There's no point limiting memory to 3GB. You either have two accessible slots for 2x2GB, or one accessible slot for 2GB.

        Sure, you could solder in another 1GB, but in that case, why not ship with 2GB out of the box and leave room for another 2GB in a user-accessible slot? The price difference between 1GB and 2GB is minimal, and you don't get the embarrassment of watching Vista crawl on the base configuration.

        • by nsayer (86181)

          I think part of the point of the Air is that making memory user installable costs weight and size. They went to extremes to minimize both (further extremes that Dell, apparently), and in the process fixed the RAM configuration.

      • I can almost see a case being made for 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 (for folks to run a VM with Windows, perhaps), but if you want higher performing graphics, you're going to see either an increase in weight or a decrease in battery life, neither of which is acceptable in that form factor product.

        I suspect that Dell didn't get the memo, which is why theirs is heavier and louder.

        Dell has a tradition of making the IT equivalent of industrial machinery. Any company with that sort of tradition will find that making elegant lightweight designs is a tougher proposition than it seems to be at first glance... Lamborghini notwithstanding.

    • by escay (923320)
      Macho outside, really? i think Adamo is pretty much sissy all over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Bigger, heavier, louder (which, to me, is half the point of something like the air), integrated battery (just like the air), bad performance, higher price... what's the point?

      And despite this, the anti-Mac fanatics will continue to claim that a Mac is always more expensive than a PC with comparable specs.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        No-one (sane) says that Macs are the MOST expensive PCs with comparable specs.

        Being in the most expensive quartile is still pretty notable, even if they are beaten to the top by some other overpriced gadgetry.

        People buy Macs because they like Macs and don't mind paying the premium for something they like. That doesn't mean that there isn't a premium...

        • I agree, there is a premium, but it's not signficant on the high end. I just spent $2700 on a 17" MacBook Pro. I think that's a lot of money. However, I bought it because it's thin, light, and has an 8 hour battery life. Could I have gotten a better spec'ed machine for that money? Almost certainly. Could I get a full work day without needing to plug in for a recharge in a package as thin and light as the MBP? No. So ignoring OS X, that Mac bests anything in it's price range for portability.
    • by arth1 (260657) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:43PM (#27537707) Homepage Journal

      Bigger, heavier, louder (which, to me, is half the point of something like the air), integrated battery (just like the air), bad performance, higher price... what's the point?

      It's not a notebook for you and me, who want the best bang for the buck. It's aimed at mid-to-upper level managers and sales staff, who need something that feels sturdy and looks classy, yet is capable of non-intensive tasks like displaying powerpoint presentations, send an e-mail saying you'll be late for tee-off, and watch pr0n^Wlight entertainment from the hotel room.

      How it performs is irrelevant -- the intended user group wouldn't be able to take advantage of the performance anyhow.

      I predict it's going to sell well to its target group -- especially in the numerous companies where Dell is one of a few approved manufacturers to choose from, and an Apple wouldn't be paid for by the company even if it danced the jitterbug and wiped your arse.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        It's getting more and more 'useful' to have something slightly better especially in the laptop division. There is such a huge power draw (~100W/processor) on desktop systems under full load that laptops can't afford anymore to have similar processors anymore. "3D cards" as we used to call them are also no longer an option.

        However newer applications like HD movies and effects on the desktop have become standard and what can be done on a desktop is also expected of a laptop. Even presentations (Keynote, Power

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Anyone thinking about an Adamo should buy a refurbished HP EliteBook instead. I'm pretty anti-HP but I got this 8730w as a replacement for my total lemon nw9440 and so far it has been pretty damned sweet. At this point I am running Intepid with Compiz and Emerald, using avant-window-navigator-trunk, and google gadgets. I have XP (This machine came with XP Pro and Vista Business licenses) installed in a VirtualBox VM and it works pretty good (though in general not as good as vmware - but the last time I inst

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Bigger, heavier, louder (which, to me, is half the point of something like the air), integrated battery (just like the air), bad performance, higher price... what's the point?

      But, but, but... this can't be true! Lord Ballmer informed us that Apple computers are $500 more than the equivalent competition! So a computer from a budget manufacturer like Dell should be faster, lighter, and quieter than the MacBook Air for less money!

      This story must be a LIE!!

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:41PM (#27535449) Homepage Journal

    Dell Adamo [adamobydell.com], for when you want to be pretentious, but you can't afford Apple.

    And yes, that website is hideous Flashturbation. I dare you to "encounter," "admire," "discover," or "commit" anything useful about the Adamo on the page. Apple gets credit here for blending marketing and tech specs. Where is the audience for Adamo? They already bought Apple or they're scratching their heads trying to find out how much RAM and CPU it has.

    • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:44PM (#27535493)

      Dell Adamo [adamobydell.com], for when you want to be pretentious, but you can't afford Apple.

      Did you miss the part where it's more expensive than an Air?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Owning a MBA requires one to spend $100/day at Starbucks, $1300/month at Armani and $90/month with AT&T.

        Adamo, in comparison, only requires $8/day at Starbucks, $50/month at GAP and nothing with AT&T.

    • Re:Adamo from Dell (Score:5, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:50PM (#27535567)

      Dell Adamo, for when you want to be pretentious, but you can't afford Apple.

      Umm...

      Dell Adamo:

      • 1.2GHz - $1999
      • 1.4GHz - $2699

      Apple MacBook Air:

      • 1.6GHz - $1799
      • 1.4GHz - $2499

      I'm no math whiz, but...

      • Re:Adamo from Dell (Score:5, Informative)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:58PM (#27535685)

        Correction, that last MacBook Air should be the 1.86GHz model.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Quantos (1327889)
        The Toshiba Qosmio is a far better buy than the Adamo as well.
        2.13 GHz- $1849.00
        Nothing special there with the Adamo, we can all find better products than a Dell, at a better price. You just need to look, and work out the arm muscles :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by beelsebob (529313)

          Why are you even bothering comparing a 17 or 18" gaming hunk of junk with a 13" ultra-thin?

          • by Quantos (1327889)
            Then take your pick from Tiger Direct [tigerdirect.com].
            Like I said, you can find them anywhere. The reason I chose the "gaming hunk of junk" is that it is far more functional. You just need to work on the upper body strength a bit :)

            Oh and AC, yes they are warm, but I don't put them on my lap. I've never had one overheat though, and this is far from my first Toshiba.
        • The Toshiba Qosmio is a far better buy than the Adamo as well.

          Wow, that has got to be the ugliest laptop I have ever seen. "New eye-popping design" -- it popped my eyes, I'll give em that, now how do I stop the bleeding?

          • by Quantos (1327889)
            Just apply alot of pressure :)
            I solved that by just looking at the screen instead of the case.
      • The Adam-O machines are clearly using the low powered versions optimised for battery life.

        If this gives you an extra 3/4hr battery life(*), some would count that as a feature over raw performance.

        (*) I just made that figure up but you get the idea.

    • Well, I like the music.
    • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Friday April 10, 2009 @04:53PM (#27536269)

      And yes, that website is hideous Flashturbation.

      Thank you, Gizmonic, for introducing me to yet another word I expect never to use in polite company. :)

      Cheers,

    • I dare you to "encounter," "admire," "discover," or "commit" anything useful about the Adamo on the page.

      They're mixing two different lingo-sets. 'Commit' is a word for business people, much like paradigm, synergy, or innovate.

      The word they REALLY want is 'acquire.' That will appeal much more to the hipster, pay-too-much-money crowd who believes that neither looks nor performance actually matter, but how 'deck' the person selling it is, and how he 'relates' to them. People who believe you can experience love with a laptop. And that's all that matters.

      There must be someone in the world like that. Maybe

  • Apples and Oranges? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:44PM (#27535499)

    The processor speed of the Macbook Air was a lot higher than the Adamo. The Adamo easily outpaced the Lenovo with the same processor speed.

    Of course processor speed isn't everything.

    The video card is the key here (or so the reviewers would have your believe).

    In the real world that this device was meant to operate in, I suspect Joe User would never notice the difference in video performance since its adequate for YouTube.

    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:48PM (#27535535) Homepage
      Gizmodo mentions the CPU speed thing, but they also point out the Air is cheaper in it's minimal configuration but still faster than the Adamo.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by ShooterNeo (555040)
      If I pay $2000 for a laptop computer, it needs to be a state of the art, high performance beast.
      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Then you are looking for a desktop replacement not a ultra slim. Granted its going to be bigger than a newborn baby and weigh a bit more.
    • by linzeal (197905)
      Never buy anything with an Intel graphics chip, they are junk.
    • by Mista2 (1093071)

      So what they have made is a U$2000 netbook?

      Now I have an Acer Aspire one, and I keep thinking, this only needs a keyboard that doesnt flex and an aluminium case and it would be about the same as a macbook Air, just smaller and with more USB ports. The air will still kick it's ass for graphics and general speed becuase it had better graphics and a proper SSD HDD, but Ther Acer only costs NZ$500, and an Air costs NZ$3000

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      No, but price for price is fair â" 1.6Ghz MacBook Air against 1.2Ghz Adamo, or 1.8Ghz MacBook air against 1.4Ghz Adamo.

      The MacBook comes out cheeper, lighter, quieter, and more powerful on both comparisons.

  • The Adam0 is a bore.

    Great design? It's squarer than the Air, sure. Great? Well, it is cleaner than anything I've EVER seen from Dell.

    Light? It's a full pound heavier than the Air -- now that's a fatty!

    Can you make a commercial begging someone to take your money and buy a light laptop and NOT buy the Air?
    Nope! -- At $2600 for an Adama that does not out perform the top end Air at 2,499.00 (starting at 1799.00 btw).

    I still don't know why ppl drool for Netbooks either ... at least these things have full size ke

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday April 10, 2009 @04:24PM (#27535939) Journal

      A lot of us like netbooks precisely because they don't have full size keyboards or screens.

    • Great design? It's squarer than the Air, sure. Great? Well, it is cleaner than anything I've EVER seen from Dell.

      I'll admit the design isn't too bad (I still think it's ugly, but that's my own opinion).

      It was a bit cheeky of Dell, though, to parrot at the beginning of the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUJqWc6seYk [youtube.com]Adamo promotional video (if you haven't seen that video, watch it: it's hilariously bad, even worse than the MS Songsmith one) how dedicated Dell is to industrial design. This has a particular resonance with me, because I distinctly remember certain Optiplexes which hid the front ports behind a silly snap-loc

    • by maxume (22995)

      If 6 or 7 pounds is a problem (and the Dell is only 4), the laptop isn't the only sissy.

      • by Duradin (1261418) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:52PM (#27536805)

        "An ounce in the morning is a pound in the evening." - Old hiking adage.

        If you're paying good money for laptop that focuses on portability weight is rather important.

        At first, you think the people that cut down the handles of their toothbrush to save weight are rather nuts. Then you find out that all their crazy methods of shaving off weight from individual items actually ends up to a noticeable reduction in overall weight.

        The same principles applies to more work related traveling. If you can shave off a pound here, a few ounces there, eventually you're commuting with a noticeably lighter load.

    • by Znork (31774)

      I still don't know why ppl drool for Netbooks either

      They're still a bit large and unwieldy, but they're at the point where you can stick'em in a coat pocket or trivially fit them into a fairly small backpack. And large though my coat pockets may be, there's simply no way I'll fit a full size keyboard in it.

      Personally I don't get why people have ordinary laptops; they have nowhere near the screen space or performance to act as a decent replacement for a desktop, nor are they portable enough to do much but lu

      • by KylePflug (898555) on Friday April 10, 2009 @06:11PM (#27536957) Homepage

        A lot of mobile professionals who carry computers in a bag along with, say, documents or books will find "thin" to be at least as important as the other dimensions. For example, a 17" Macbook and a 13" Macbook take up functionally the same amount of space in a messenger bag (1"), which is a lot less than many cheaper computers.

        Thin is expensive, and is only worth it if it's actually useful, but sometimes it is truly useful.

  • Lots of these reviews for portables talk about power. I couldn't care less about power. I have a three-year-old Pentium M with 512 MB of RAM (shared with the graphics!) that was OVER-powered. All I used was the browser, some console apps, and occasionally a media player. I replaced the laptop, but only because the hinges were shot. I didn't even use half of the memory on the thing.

    No, for me battery life is more important than power. "The biggest mistake Dell made with this system, by far, was the inclusion

    • Power matters. The intel atom chokes when simply browsing some ajax-enabled web pages in firefox, while more powerful CPUs don't blink.

      • by bami (1376931)

        Power matters. The intel atom chokes when simply browsing some ajax-enabled web pages in firefox, while more powerful CPUs don't blink.

        I'd like to know which atom you are using.

        The Atom N270 in my EEE 901 has no problem at all with heavy AJAX sites, like the whole google 'suite' (gmail, maps, calendar, igoogle?). The only times that thing chokes is on heavy flash games, or java applets. Then again, I haven't seen a java applet yet that doesn't make a browser choke, be it a desktop or mobile core2duo/quad, the atom or any other random piece of hardware.

        Now what would be interesting if they made such a ultraflat laptop with the 'new' dualcor

  • by SkinnyKid63 (1104787) on Friday April 10, 2009 @04:14PM (#27535833)
    They could give it a gruff exterior, but it would kick the ass of any other computer that got in its way, Apple or Cylon.
  • I'm still trying to figure that out. It does not exceed the specs for the MBA especially in price [businessinsider.com] which is what Microsoft's new ad campaign is all about.

    I guess if you need a MBA form-factor that runs Windows this is your thing. I'd much prefer to run Windows virtually in the MBA though.
  • and cheaper. 1.2Ghz dual core processor? Wtf? My 2 year old 3lb thinkpad has a 1.8Ghz dual core processor, and I bought it new for half what an Adamo costs 2 years ago. If an Adamo was a cheaper alternative to a thinkpad I could understand, but it's more expensive too! Why would anyone in their right mind buy a Adamo instead of thinkpad?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by beelsebob (529313)

      Did you miss the bit where you could fit two adamos/airs inside your think pad. The think pad is a thick 14" laptop, these are two *ultra* thin, very light 13" laptops. Where by ultra thin, we mean average 0.46" thick, compared to your thinkpad's average 1.175". And by light, we mean 3lb, not your thinkpad's 5.1lb.

      • by PFAK (524350) *

        I hate to break it to you: The ThinkPad X61 is only ~3.11lbs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by beelsebob (529313)

          Oh fail, I read T61, but then, you could fit *three* MacBook airs inside the thicknss of the X61.

          • by PFAK (524350) *

            Yes, but I think you have to take Price vs. Reward: The X61 is a very attractive offering if you look at the price point of it.

            • by beelsebob (529313)

              Sure, but again, we're discussing *ultra-thin* laptops. If you want to look at not ultra-thin, then you can go to the MacBook, not the Air, or to the XPS m1330, not the Adamo. Both of those will offer you a much more compelling price/power ratio, but a much less compelling price/thinness ratio.

              Bottom line â" we're not discussing the class of laptop you're talking about. No matter how shiny it is, it's not part of this discussion.

      • by mako1138 (837520)

        Isn't the X61 12", and more like 4 pounds? You're quite right about the thickness though.

    • by mgblst (80109)

      Yeah, considering there was an x61t deal a few weeks ago for $650, yeah, it is a cheaper deal.

  • Dell have created, with the Adamo, what is effectively a pocket calculator for the price you're getting. Christ, I've seen machines on sale for less than £400 (around $800 at the time) which are more powerful than this thing.

    In no way is it the most beautiful machine Dell's ever made. The black (sorry, Onyx) colour isn't too bad, but both types have a Quasimodo hunch-back, which seems to serve no purpose other than to store the bits they couldn't fit in to the rest of the machine because they we

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      I also like how they couldn't decide on one kind of finish so they just threw little bits of every finish they liked onto the machine.

      This might be a taste issue but I think the backside of the Adamo's screen simply looks bad. Like it was randomly thrown together.
  • Sorry, but I'm not paying twice what I spent on a (quite nice) Inspiron only to get a laptop with less vertical pixels.

    Why not 1440x800? That's almost the same aspect ratio. Or 1366x800.

    It *does* look rather gorgeous, though.

  • So since the processor and graphics are slower than the Air, shouldn't the battery life on the Adamo be better? What's the Air rated at for battery life, and then how does it actually do?
    • What's the Air rated at for battery life, and then how does it actually do?

      Apple claims 4.5 hours and in reality, under heavy use it delivers about 2.5 hours according to reviewers. So, close enough to the Adamo to not matter.

  • it's a $2000 netbook?
  • Is anyone else bothered by the fact that the slot for the ATT SIM Card (a more elegant solution than USB device by God!) kind of tilts the playing field in the direction of one vendor? If I were to pay that much for a laptop I would want everything about it to be "general purpose" to the largest extent possible.
    • Depends on if it's a locked configuration. The ATT SIM is the standard GSM (presuming it operates on all int'l frequencies). You can drop in a SIM from just about anywhere in the world. Since this is a US product, and AT&T probably helped out with the advert budget, it's hyped as such. Plus, in the US, AT&T is one of the most ubiquitous providers.

  • by jw3 (99683) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:55PM (#27536833) Homepage

    This is a genuine question, not a troll. I'm really interested in the answer.

    What is the meaning of comparing the GHz as a major factor in evaluation of a laptop? I'm a bioinformatician. I do most of my work on an X40 Thinkpad. For small jobs, this is more than sufficient. For major calculations, one or two cores will not suffice, no matter what the GHz.

    From my experience, for most of the tasks, a difference of even 10% in the speed is not an issue, and anyway, there are dozens of other factors that influence both, the real computing speed and the reactivity of the interface. To me, things like memory, disk access, networking, cacheing, usage pattern and last but not least, what software solution you have picked for your task seem to be more influencial on the overall perfomance than a difference between 1.6 or 1.86 GHz. Yet in most comparisons (e.g. several posts here on Slashdot), when talking of a laptop, first two things to mention are the price tag and the GHz.

    Question: am I missing something? What is so important about the GHz of the processor to use it as a proxy for "performance"? Is it just historical, or maybe because it is easy to quantify, like in the case of megapixels in digital cameras (which are nowadays mostly meaningless, but easy to compare)?

    j.

    • by feepness (543479)

      Question: am I missing something? What is so important about the GHz of the processor to use it as a proxy for "performance"? Is it just historical, or maybe because it is easy to quantify, like in the case of megapixels in digital cameras (which are nowadays mostly meaningless, but easy to compare)?

      Two things.

      1) It's all about the epeen. If you've dropped $2K you want to know you've got the best.

      2) It's how long it will last you. That 1.4Ghz processor is going to feel dated that much sooner.

      That's it. It's really not much different than driving a car with 300hp vs 350hp. Are you going to get from one end of town to the other any faster, or even faster than 135hp Civic? Most likely not.

    • All things being equal (same chipset, same RAM, same CPU line), more GHz == more speed. Also note that you're using extremely niche applications. Most people are doing things like editing their home movies, where a 10% faster CPU results in a 10% faster conversion process. The slower CPU will still get the job done in a reasonable amount of time, but if spending a few bucks up front means less waiting over the life of the computer, then it might be a pretty reasonable upgrade.

      • by jw3 (99683)

        You mean -- text writing, preparing presentations, web browsing for fun and profit, watching movies, processing photos from my camera are all "extremely niche applications"? Yet I don't think that CPU makes such a difference for these. Most of the time my laptop runs at 600MHz anyways, and jerks up to its nominal 1.3 only rarely.

        What do you think has more impact on the performance: using Photoshop for basic photo operations (where the faster, more lightweight programs like ACDSee or Picasa would also do), o

  • I LOVE my Dell Mini 9. $220 shipped, $20 upgrade to 2GB memory. Runs Ubuntu like a champ.

    Don't let this overpriced Edsel turn you off to their entire line.
    • It also runs OSX like a champ (yes, even integrated 3G modem and bluetooth).

      I would do ubuntu except I can't get the friggin wvdial config down to work with the integrated 3G card, and network manager spasms out (something to do with a nonstandard AT string from my research) and after wasting a weekend on it I decided to waste a weekend on hackintosh instead of the possibility of finding a fix :)

      • by feepness (543479)
        I haven't got the integrated 3G, but I have tethered it to my Motorola V3xx without a hitch using a five dollar bluetooth adapter. I am more pleased with this thing than I have been with any electronics I've purchased for a long time.
  • I would hate to buy a laptop only to find you need a fucking TORQUES bit to open it!
    • I would hate to buy a laptop only to find you need a fucking TORQUES bit to open it!

      Yeah, it's not like you can just buy them for $3.00 at Sears.

    • by altek (119814)

      Dude, its not like thats some exotic fastener that takes an act of corporate espionage to get the tools for. Ace is the place.

      And for the record, it's Torx, not torques.

  • I can't remove the battery.

    When working on laptops, popping the battery is one of the first steps before you start to dig into the guts. Is there a physical disconnect switch on this Dell? What if the battery is bad as shipped? Who swaps the battery out if/when needed, and does that void the warranty?

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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