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


View All Comments

  • afkrotch - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Ya, iPad is the best alternative, if you want to lose pretty much all functionality, aside from websurfing and email. Reply
  • PyroHoltz - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    What the heck, where are all the Arrandale CULV chips? This thing should have a 6 cell Li-Poly battery and most certainly an i3-330UM or i5-430UM chip...

    Come on manufacturers!
  • Wineohe - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    After owning an XPS M1210 for nearly 4 years, I am in search of an upgrade before the year is out. But it would never be to another Core 2 processor based laptop. Not that mine has been bad, it's just that this architecture is very near the end of it's life cycle. The only upgrade I would consider would be an i3/i5 based system. Otherwise the Adamo looks like a slick piece. Also battery life is an important consideration, and the next generation of SSD's might have some maturity worth waiting for. Reply
  • afkrotch - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    I'll never understand comments like these, when looking at a CULV laptop. Shouldn't battery life and size be the most important factors when choosing one? Then performance well after that.

    If all I looked at was whether it was an i3/i5, I wouldn't be rocking a CULV laptop with up to 9 hours of battery life (turn on, let it sit there). Under real world, I get about 7-8 hours of battery for minimal usage (websurfing, picture viewing, office work) at 30% screen brightness and 5 hours battery for video watching at 30% screen brightness with wifi turned off.

    FYI, I use an HP TM2T tablet. No time to wait for an i3/i5. Got things to do, chocolate to eat.
  • lukeevanssi - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    This is very nice looking and feature very good here.............
  • stimudent - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    I've bin thinking about getting one of those garden hose wrapper-upper thingies for a while. That looks like a good one. Wonder where he got it from. Reply
  • technophile123 - Thursday, August 5, 2010 - link

    The Adamo 13 is actually thinner than a Macbook Air. The Macbook Air is thinner in the front, but gets bigger in the back. At its thickest part the Macbook Air is 0.76 inches thick, while the Adamo measures 0.6 inches in thickness from front to back. Maybe you should correct the Article there. Reply

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