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Hands on with the new Dell Adamo XPS

After months of teaser shots and cameo appearances, Dell has officially announced the revamped Adamo laptop. Without setting a specific date, Dell says it expects to "begin taking orders and shipping the Adamo XPS in time for the holidays."

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After months of teaser shotsand cameo appearances, Dell has officially announced pricing and other details for the revamped Dell Adamo XPS laptop. Without setting a specific date, Dell says it expects to "begin taking orders and shipping the Adamo XPS in time for the holidays." The ultrathin luxury laptop starts at $1,799.

We had a chance to take a quick test drive with an Adamo XPS earlier this week, as well as capture some hands-on footage on a Flip handheld video camera.

Our initial impressions of the Adamo remain largely the same after getting to handle it at greater length. The system is ridiculously thin, especially for a 13-inch laptop. Unlike the 11-inch Sony Vaio X, which weighs next to nothing, the Adamo feels slightly heavier than it looks, even with an solid-state hard drive. Dell says the Adamo starts at 3.2 pounds, which is nearly twice the weight of the Vaio X.

The Adamo opens in an unusual way, with the lid shut tight until you swipe a finger on a heat-sensitive strip centered on the front edge. Then the lid lifts up, tilting the screen back and lifting the keyboard on its unusual inset hinge.

At least on the nonfinal version we played with, the lid opening action wasn't as smooth as we would have liked. When using one hand to lift the lid, at about the halfway point the front of keyboard tray itself started to lift off the table, requiring us to hold it down with our other hand.

Dell's new Adamo XPS has an unusual inset hinge. Dan Ackerman/CNET

When fully opened, the keyboard sits at maybe a 20-degree angle. It's an unusual setup, but one that provides a more ergonomic typing experience than the average flat laptop keyboard. We also liked the keyboard's metal keys and the reasonably large touchpad.

The system's components seem to be located behind the screen, as the ports (two USB, a headphone jack, power connection, and mini DisplayPort) are on the side edges of the lid. The screen itself is a 13.4-inch LED, with a 1,366x768 resolution. The Adamo's lid has a larger footprint than the lower half, and when closed, the keyboard essentially fits inside the inset lid.

With a 128GB solid-state drive and a 1.4GHz Intel ULV processor, we have high hopes for the system's battery life, which Dell claims is up to 2.5 hours with the default battery and a bit more than 5 hours with an optional extended battery (which we haven't seen in person yet.)

While the new Adamo has a much more radically unique design than the original MacBook-like Adamo, the high starting price means it's still likely to be relegated to coffee shop curio status, along with other luxury laptops such as Sony's Vaio X and HP's Envy 13. Not that there's anything wrong with that; high-end concept-car-like products like these invariably trickle their technology developments to mainstream systems down the road.

We're waiting for a final shipping version of the Adamo XPS to arrive, at which time we'll run it though our standard battery of benchmark tests.

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