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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  • sidaja - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    Did you ever find a good computer to buy? I'm in the same boat - looking for a Windows alternative to the MBP.
  • JohnMD1022 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    And I must admit that, generally, their notebooks are a cut above most of the desktops I see.

    But the Dell desktops we see in our shop are pretty much junk.

    It tends to color one's opinion.
  • stimudent - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    We call them Packard Dell's in our labs.
  • Freddo - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Still cost $2000 here in Sweden. But it sure is a beautiful laptop, I would have considered it if it had HDMI and if it was possible to get an old non-SDD hard drive to lower the price.
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    999$ for an C2D CULV with useless GMA and a non-trim ssd? Well, people that go for looks tend not to know much about the interor so it's probably good opportunity for dell to get 2 year old hardware sold for a high price.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    FWIW, Vivek actually liked the design enough that he bought the laptop for his own use. Obviously, opinions on aesthetics are just that, but it does look nice and runs well enough. I believe he bought it off eBay with the X25 SSD for $700 or so; getting a different SSD is possible but I'm not sure if anyone does the requisite 1.8" form factor with a higher performance + TRIM model.
  • rtothedizzy - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    I think OCZ has released their new lineup in 1.8" form recently.
  • Jvboom - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Pricey and underpowered. It's a shame too, the thing looks amazing. If it performed half as well as it's design looks I would definitely get one as my next laptop.
  • mrjminer - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Yea, I wish they'd toss some sort of discrete graphics in there.
  • erple2 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Then it would also be significantly thicker than 0.65"...

    Discrete GPU requires beefier cooling which requires more space. More space than 0.65" can give.

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