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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  • estee - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Sure, it's also made by Dell, but it's almost identical to the Adamo (same .65" profile, display, battery, slightly slower CPU, w/o the ID though) and costs $330 less!
  • Scott66 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    I am sure dell will get a few customers complaining about broken USB ports due to having all of the ports on the back.

    When a person reaches around to plug in a jump drive, one tends to lift the laptop. Unfortunately anything plugged on the back will get pressed down against the desk and either bend itself or, over time, crack the connector on the Motherboard.

    Main reason all Mac laptops now do not have any ports on the back, instead using the back for moving warm air out.
  • afkrotch - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Think it's all about how users deal with ports on the back. Me for example, I twist my laptop around to access ports on the back. With ports on the side, I tend to lift the laptop sideways to get to them. I personally prefer ports on the back of my laptop, as it's out of the way.
  • rtothedizzy - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    This is pretty much the laptop I want. Love the look. Love the feel. I won't be buying one anytime soon though because it's basically a year or two old technology. It needs to be updated.

    Give me:
    i5/i7 ULV processor with their improved integrated graphics.
    at least 4GB of ram
    a newer SSD with trim or an option to get a normal HDD so I can replace it with a SSD myself

    As soon as it has those specs I'm getting one. That is assuming they stay near the current price and don't go back to the crazy original price. They updated the 11 inch alienware finally, hope that means the adamo is due for an update soon as well. Anyone heard anything on this front??
  • solipsism - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    When the machine is geared to compete more directly with Macs than most other non-Mac PCs I’d like to see the charts include Macs. You certainly compare them to Macs in text, but never at a glance in the performance and battery charts.
  • tipoo - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

  • brianh902 - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Looks nice... I am waiting for MacBook Pro 13 to go Core i... That will be the one.
  • mindbomb - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    if it has a 4500mhd, then it can fully hardware accelerate 1080p h264, vc-1, or mpeg 2.

    And it has the added benefit of being able to output hd audio via hdmi.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Not Flash... 10.1 still dies at 1080p on 4500MHD. Sorry if that wasn't clear, though I don't know if a high bitrate (say >20Mbps) H.264 could decode on 4500MHD, lower bitrate certainly works.
  • techandtech - Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - link

    Best alternative is the iPad and wireless keyboard when necessary.

    And if not that, then the next version of the iPad...

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