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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  • FATCamaro - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Yeah looks just like a mac!! Amazing. Except its pricey and crap. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    My friend just bought one of these days ago. One thing you didn't mention is that the fan seems to go off even with just light web browsing, and also seems to have too few modes to choose from (off, medium, jet engine). Now, maybe I'm micro-autistic or something, but fan noise of any sort just drives me up the wall :-P

    Even with all its flaws though, considering that the price has dropped to half its original price and half the price of the Macbook Air, if you absolutely need an ultraportable it isn't a bad choice for what you pay. The SSD does make a noticeable difference, despite being far from the fastest SSD's out there (speaking of which, some storage benchies would have been nice!).

    Nice review though.
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    The MacBook Air is $1399 which is not 2 X $999. You get what you pay for.
    This laptop is actually better compared to a 13" Macbook Pro which starts at $1099 but is a dramatically better buy.

    http://www.appleinsider.com/mac_price_guide/

    Why people constantly compare these to a mac is beyond me since this runs Windows. i understand that Apple is the gold standard for industrial design, quality, and customer service though.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    I stand corrected. The rest still applies though. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Why oh why does it come with a G1 (probably got a great deal on the old drives)? With no TRIM on an aging drive, and at this cost I'll pass... Reply
  • StanTech - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    7Enigma: "With no TRIM on an aging drive, and at this cost I'll pass..."

    For the price, I think I can accept a scheduled http://www.anandtech.com/show/2865/3">"manual trim" compromise, which I think is http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?a...">now supported on G1 drives.
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    pathetic that this doesn't have a i3/i5/i7 ULV cpu. Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    I really hope that Anand's 13 and below laptop review will give us a good comparison. Between the Adamo 13, the M11x, the Vaio Z and Asus' myriad of thin and light laptops (U30Jc, UL30Jt, etc.), there are a lot of choices. I'll be looking forward to more about this! Reply
  • afkrotch - Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - link

    I sport a 12.1" HP TM2T tablet. Wondering how it compares to the rest. Granted, you pay more for the tablet features, but a lot of killer deals are out there for it. Reply
  • freeman70 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Wait for the i3/i5/i7 CULV or later processors. You are just wasting money buying a stylish case with an old processor. I am perfectly happy to wait for something really great like sandy-bridge based CULV laptops. Until then I will be content using my Acer 1410 with 4GB of RAM and an Intel 80GB G2 SSD. Don't bother telling me the screen is average. I already know. But considering I paid US$450 (4GB RAM included) when I bought it, I think it's good enough for the time being. I won't upgrade until I can get a decent 32 nanometer CULV CPU, nVidia Optimus graphics, a good 13.3 inch screen, USB 3.0 and still get 8 hours of battery life. Reply

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