Dell Adamo XPS review

Price when reviewed

PREVIEW It’s not often that the mere sight of a laptop draws gasps, but the early tantalising glimpses of a 9.99mm-thin, MacBook Air rival from Dell a few months back had us salivating in sceptical expectation. Now, taking aim at the luxury ultraportable market so dominated by Apple and Sony, the Dell Adamo XPS slithers into the Labs for an exclusive preview.

The good news is that our hopes have most definitely not been dashed. It really is impossibly thin, and beautiful in that special way that can draw a crowd within seconds. Brushed aluminium reaches all around – every line and edge softening into a luxurious arc – and it’s light, too, weighing just 1.44kg.

Dell Adamo XPS

Even the on switch will have you cooing with delight. Gently brush a finger over the 2in indent at the laptop’s edge and the white LED glows blue to signify that the latch has been activated. The keyboard pops free from the Adamo’s underside, and folds down to reveal the 13.4in display and a sea of dark, aluminium-capped keys. But rather than placing the hinge on the edge of the chassis, the Adamo’s is indented by about 5cm, so the keyboard props up permanently at an angle.

It’s certainly an off-the-wall design, but Dell has invested some serious time and effort into getting it just right. The keyboard, for one, is better than it has any right to be. The curious design initially leaves the Adamo looking a little top-heavy, and hence prone to tipping over. But in practice it just works: we tapped away while sat on a packed commuter train and not once did the Adamo feel unbalanced.

Those Scrabble-tile keys have a firm, crisp action, and feel both comfortable and responsive under the finger. The trackpad, meanwhile, works well: the two discrete buttons depress with a dull, muffled click, and there are both vertical and horizontal scroll zones. The only mild annoyance is the trackpad’s close proximity to the space bar – just occasionally our thumb stole the cursor and flung it back to a previous paragraph.

Dell Adamo XPS

The 13.4in, 1,366 x 768 display is glorious. LED-backlighting gives it blinding brightness when the occasion demands it, while viewing angles are wide and colour reproduction is spot-on. Contrast could be a little better, with blacks in particular looking a little grey at times, but it’s still a fantastic screen.

And while you’d be forgiven for thinking a low-voltage processor spells disaster on the performance front, the Adamo feels rocket-powered compared to most CULV laptops. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit saunters along, booting quickly thanks to the 128GB SSD, and programs bound into life with surprising vigour. More-demanding applications reveal the Core 2 Duo SU9400’s limits, but that SSD helps the Adamo feel like the supercar its price tag suggests.


Warranty2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions340 x 272 x 10mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo SU9400
Motherboard chipsetIntel GS45
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA X4500MHD
Graphics card RAM128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSamsung SSD PB22-JS3 TM
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveN/A
Battery capacity1,800mAh


Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readerno
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationBase
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating2.0mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light useN/A
Overall application benchmark scoreN/A
Office application benchmark scoreN/A
2D graphics application benchmark scoreN/A
Encoding application benchmark scoreN/A
Multitasking application benchmark scoreN/A
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7

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