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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  • Wander7 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    I like the MacBook Pro 13" for the design of the hardware and long battery life, but is there an alternative in the Windows world? I know about the HP Envys and they suck. Any help would be great. Reply
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    LEnovo X301 - better all around, higher res, more reliable+ an internal DVD Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    More reliable? A cheap plasticky Lenovo? Puh-lease. Plus you run the archaic Windows OS on it. Unless you use Linux. Terrible battery life too.
    Btw the 13" MacBook has an internal DVD drive not that I really use one anymore. I can't remember the last time I burned a DVD or CD.

    This Dell is a slightly gussied up copy of a MacBook. Hardly innovative design. Brought to you by the company that knowingly sold thousands of defective computers and is known for the worst quality control and support in the industry. This one is overpriced too. Anandtech must be hungry for Dell advertising $$ at the cost of their reputation.
    Reply
  • gescom - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    @darwinosx "A cheap plasticky Lenovo? Puh-lease. "

    What are you talking about? What plastic? What cheap?
    The internal chassis and roll cage use an advanced carbon-fiber / glass-fiber material that provides both strength and light weight. The case material is made of magnesium, press as hard as you want anywhere on the body of the notebook and it will not flex. Like all ThinkPads, the X301 is designed for accidental abuse and drops.

    And you even compare it to a 13" MacBook / pro? Apple machines are far far behind in everything.
    Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Seriously, if not a Lenovo X301, then what would you have us buy Darwin? Reply
  • quiksilvr - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    The ENVY 13 and 15 aren't that great.

    The ENVY 14 and 17 however, are masterpieces.

    http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/compute...
    Reply
  • maratus - Thursday, July 08, 2010 - link

    >>And you even compare it to a 13" MacBook / pro? Apple machines
    >> are far far behind in everything.

    Yes, those crappy extremely low contrast and non-existent viewing angle screens Lenovo puts in almost any of their ThinkPads is a definite sing of the advancement over Apple. So does using inferior GPUs (Intel 4500/5700 for the whole X200, X300 lineup, 2D-optimised version of low-end 310M for T410 and so on). Some say that connectivity is a weakness of Apple laptops. But it does four extremely important things for me:
    – MBP does support 2560x1600 (like modern Lenovo and Dell models though) which is a mandatory for me,
    – MBP does have high-speed port like FW800. (E-sata is a joke unless it's combined with USB for bus power and even then its power capabilities are far behind of FW800 port). You can run RAID enclosure with two 2.5" / 7200rpm HDDs and fan completely bus powered without single problem. 80MB/s is good for me.
    – MBP does have good (and excellent for 15" and 17") battery life.
    – MBP runs Mac OS X natively

    And while roll cage may withstand a drop why does it flex and creak like a cheap eMachines masterpiece?
    Reply
  • mojohacker2010 - Saturday, July 10, 2010 - link

    Steve, is that you? Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    "Plus you run the archaic Windows OS on it"

    Funnily enough, a collegue in work owns a macbook but refuses to run OSX as it offers 'Nothing new and is basically for stupid people'. Straight from his mouth and he's running Win7 Pro instead of OSX.

    Seriously, darwinosx, remove your own head from up your own behind. OSX is no better or worse than windows.
    Reply
  • Wizzdo - Wednesday, July 07, 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. Dolled out as an expensive fix for the unhappy Vista era (which itself took forever and mainly brought only incompatibility, high system requirements and general instability and annoyance to its users), Windows 7 added and a handful of OSX like (coincidence?) features and the usual pile of driver incompatibility\workaround headaches along with broken support for psuedo real-time integrations such as professional audio (the vast majority who still use OSX or XP).

    To say OSX is a toy is to be quite ignorant of its UNIX underpinnings. It is still the preferred platform in the Art (video/graphics/audio) professions which are generally far more demanding and expectant on performance and reliability than most other fields.

    Anyhow, one can just do a simple poll of satisfied, hassle free OSX users vs Windows (xp/vista/7). Having to use both daily in practically every possible context, I can tell you which is the most 'toy' like (read: not for serious use) and it just so happens to be the one that plays most of the games ;)
    Reply

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