When it debuted at CES 2009, the 0.65” Dell Adamo 13 gave the notebook world a Windows equivalent to the MacBook Air. With the ultrathin body, the brushed aluminum unibody, and Apple-like attention to detail, the Adamo was truly stunning to behold. Unfortunately, at $1999, it was extremely pricey given the lackluster specifications – with a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo ULV processor, 2GB of non-upgradable memory, and Intel’s GMA 4500MHD, it was slower than the 1.6GHz MacBook Air, which also had an Nvidia 9400M graphics chip while being cheaper and lighter. The only things the Adamo had going for it compared to the Air were the standard 128GB solid state drive and the slightly thinner chassis. Critics were unimpressed, calling it underpowered and overpriced, and the Adamo never sold well.

Fast forward to now: the Adamo has been on shelves for a year, and the price has now dropped to $999 on Dell’s website for the base Adamo “Admire”. The base processor is now the 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400, the second fastest processor in the CULV platform. The higher end “Desire” model switches to the low-voltage 2.13GHz SL9600, 4GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD, but the price jumps to $1699. The real question is, at $999, can the Adamo 13’s supermodel styling and aluminum unibody make a compelling sales pitch over the vast number of CULV competitors?

Dell Adamo 13 Specifications
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400
(1.40GHz, 45nm, 3MB L2, 800FSB, 10W)
Chipset Intel GS40
Memory 1x4096MB DDR2-667 @ 4-4-4-12 Timings
Graphics Integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 13.4" LED Glossy 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 1.8" 80GB SSD (Intel X18-M G1)
Networking Atheros AR8131 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet
Intel WiFi Link 5100 802.11a/g/n WiFi
Audio Realtek AL269 2-Channel HD Audio
(2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 4-Cell Li-Polymer, 10.8V, 4400mAh, 40Wh
Front Side None
Left Side None
Right Side SIM Card Slot
Microphone/Headphone Jacks
Back Side 2 x USB 2.0
DisplayPort eSATA Ethernet AC Power Connection
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate
Dimensions 13.03" x 9.5" x 0.65" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.0 lbs
Extras 1.3MP Webcam
Available in Pearl and Onyx
Warranty 1-year standard Dell warranty (USA)
Price Onyx Adamo Admire starting from $999

Our Adamo review unit has a mix of specs – everything from the Admire, plus 4GB of memory and upgraded with an 80GB Intel X18-M solid state drive and Windows 7 Ultimate. Overall, performance should be pretty similar to the Admire, since the main difference in the Desire is the faster (and more power-hungry) SL9600 processor.

Interestingly, this will be our first experience with the faster SU9x00 series of ultra low voltage processors (previously we’ve only looked at the dual core SU7300/SU4100s and the Core 2 Solo SU3500), and also the first time testing the combination of CULV and a solid state drive. Given the lowering cost of SSDs in the current market, it’s becoming tempting to pair the low-power CULV platform with a flash-based drive to get as much battery life as possible from any given system. Now, given the small 40Wh Li-poly battery (not user replaceable, a la Apple), we’re not expecting the Adamo to break any battery life records, but it will be interesting to see how big a difference the SSD makes in battery usage rate.

Dell Adamo 13: Awesome Industrial Design
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  • afkrotch - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Remember back in the day when the Longhorn Alpha came out? Then those same features showed up in OSX. Then Longhorn got canned and had to be rebuilt all over again. Why not a single word from Mac fans about how they stole Windows features? I'm sorry, but both Apple and MS will steal whatever from each other. Apple is probably the worst of the two. Everything they build is just someone else's work, shined up to be pretty.

    OSX is the preferred platform in the Art profession? Really? When? 1990s? The only ppl you see bothering with it is stupid college kids or just regular home consumers. Go out into the real professional world and tell me how many ppl still bother. Even all your big companies have long since dumped Apple.

    Unix underpinnings. What's the point even mentioning it, when they took all that was great about Unix and threw it out the window. I played with OSX a while ago. Ya, a toy for home. I can't possibly see it being used for any real production work. Right now, I'm a sys ad for our Solaris 10 workstation/servers, Linux google server, Trusted Solaris 8 server, and a couple Windows 2003 servers. Guess what our custom built software is now being created for? I'll give you a hint. It's created by Microsoft.
  • jkostans - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    I work for an engineering firm, and no one uses OSX. Linux for some engineering apps, and windows for everything else. This is the way 99% of the world works, get used to it. OSX is not superior to windows. If it was businesses would use it more.
  • mojohacker2010 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    "The Lenovo may be a nice machine but... (other than fanboy nonsense) Windows 7 definitely does play second fiddle to OSX in the majority of serious comparisons"

    LOL...please cite some sources or you sound just like a fanboy yourself. Rather you sound like a very defensive and angry fanboy. Almost all of the head-to-head comparison articles/tests I've seen show windows 7 beating OSX overwhelmingly...

    "Anyhow, one can just do a simple poll of satisfied, hassle free OSX users vs Windows (xp/vista/7). "

    Really? So you're gonna compare an ecosystem with billions of users vs. OSX, which no one uses, and use that as an argument? LOL
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    "More reliable? A cheap plasticky Lenovo? Puh-lease. Plus you run the archaic Windows OS on it"

    Uh.. Yes, Lenovo is the most reliable in the buz, and that included Apple. The X301 rocks. Its solid, lightweight and Has Win7, which is far better than OSX in my opinion.

    Also, the MAcbook air is its competition. THe X301 is a thin CULV notebook and has an internal DVD player. Yes, its FAR better than the MAcbook air, or regular 13 inch macbook, or dell.
  • chrnochime - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Didn't really want to waste time reading when your name even includes osx. Guess the more patient commenters out there took your bait and wasted their time LOL
  • IvanAndreevich - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    I find it offensive when someone calls a high end Thinkpad "cheap and plasticky". If a Thinkpad and Macbook Pro knock heads I'm sure the Thinkpad would survive more often than not.
  • erple2 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    The Envy's suck? Huh. I like mine just fine. It runs circles around any MBP that's available today. And runs quite a bit cooler at that. Granted, that's comparing the 15" MBP...

    The MBP doesn't get that good of battery life in Windows, btw. At least not significantly better than other C2D based laptops with NVidia processors...
  • adhan - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    I'm not trying to be too much of a fanboy here, but how about a MacBook with Windows running via Boot Camp.
  • sleepeeg3 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Both colossal ripoffs.
  • Wander7 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    thanks for all the comments. I know about boot camp and also the crappier battery life running windows under it. I don't like the Envys because of the bad touchpad ( I have a dm3 now...). My main attraction to the MB Pro are the hardware aspects of the machine and the battery life.

    I found out Sony makes some nice laptops, but WAY overpriced tho.... I'll just keep waiting.

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