Dell Adamo XPS review

Price when reviewed

As you might expect, though, compromise is a necessity when pushing the boundaries of laptop design. Impossibly thin it may be, but the Adamo XPS’s skin-and-bone figure leaves precious little room for strength, stamina, an optical drive or, for that matter, much in the way of connectivity.

Two USB ports are provided, one on each edge, and they leave just enough room for a DisplayPort socket and a headphone output. The array of adapters in the box provide for DVI and VGA outputs, while the USB 10/100 Ethernet dongle will have to suffice when there are no wireless networks within reach of the 802.11n wireless chipset.

Dell Adamo XPS adapters

The battery, while removable, is dainty in both size and capacity – 20Wh – so despite the Adamo’s frugal specification we weren’t surprised to see it last just a couple of hours. Recent CULV laptops we’ve seen with far longer battery life have only achieved this by using higher-capacity batteries. We doubt Dell can squeeze much more life out of this pre-production hardware before launch, but there should be an optional 40Wh battery upgrade on the way soon – we’d expect it to thicken the XPS by a good few millimeters.

So it’s not the longest-lasting laptop away from the mains, but the inclusion of a cigarette-lighter adapter is a neat addition borrowed from the gadget world. This at least leaves a bit of scope to give the Adamo a quick recharge in the car between the office and Starbucks.

Finally, while the XPS might make the MacBook Air look like it’s had one too many caramel-flavoured whipped cream lattes, Dell hasn’t quite matched Apple’s unbreakable build quality. It’s not that the construction is poor by any means – every join and seam looks smooth and professional – but while the keyboard feels taut and strong, the paper-thin lid flexes noticeably, with even light finger presses causing ripples of distortion on the glossy display.

Dell Adamo XPS

So it’s not perfect by any means, but the Adamo XPS is a hugely impressive technical achievement. Performance is more than nippy enough for most uses, and the ergonomics, while not flawless, are better than we could ever have expected given its esoteric design.

There’s no question that its appeal takes a big hit when you see the price tag, but somehow, and almost inexplicably so, the Dell Adamo XPS is still likely to inspire passion in the coldest of hearts. Like staring longingly through the window of a Lamborghini dealer, we know it’s not entirely practical or affordable, but that doesn’t stop us desperately wanting one all the same.

The Dell Adamo XPS is available exclusively from John Lewis.


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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