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Dell launches purported MacBook Air killer

Dell is finally expected to launch the mysterious Adamo, a “luxury” laptop that could be the PC maker's response to ultra-thin laptops including Apple's stylish MacBook Air.

Adamo has a light and ultra-slim design that makes it easy to hold with a few fingers. It measures 0.65 inches (16.39mm) at its thinnest point, and weighs around 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), with a 13.4-inch screen.

With prices starting at around US$2,000, it isn't targeted at normal buyers, said John New, senior product marketing manager at Dell.

“It's for an affluent crowd, and somebody who's fashion forward, style conscious who wants to project an image of success and style. They probably have a fine watch, and nice, name-brand accessories, and we want this to be one of them,” he said.

The laptop uses new technologies that could make it a speedy machine — it runs on an ultra-low power Intel processor, supports DDR3 memory and includes SSD storage. A battery built inside the laptop provides about four to five hours of run time per charge.

Speculation around Adamo heated up late last year when observers suggested Dell was building a laptop as a response to Apple's MacBook Air. The rumor was confirmed when the laptop was shown to the press at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Dell did not reveal its specifications at the time, saying Adamo was being shown to squash impending rumors about its existence.

Adamo is heavier and may be bigger than the MacBook Air, but it provides Dell an entrance into the ultraportable market to compete with offerings that include Hewlett-Packard's Voodoo Envy. Dell could particularly face an uphill battle against Apple, which has a leg up with impressive designs and a loyal customer base that allows it to charge a premium for products.

Taking a veiled jab at Apple, Dell's New said that Adamo sacrificed size to bring more practical functionality — like the inclusion of an Ethernet port — rather than skimp on finer details. Apple has been criticized for not including an Ethernet port in the MacBook Air.

“You could do this exercise to make something super thin,” New said. “We want to make sure we deliver performance and value and it's not just a fluffy purchase.”

Dell has a history of fairly boring designs, but the PC maker has been aggressive about changing that, said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at market research firm The NPD Group.

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