The speculation is heating up around Dell's upcoming Adamo, which industry observers believe is an ultraportable laptop that could a price-friendly response to Apple's ultrathin Macbook Air.
Though Dell has already launched a Web site promoting the product, the company has been suspiciously quiet about it, except for saying it is "Coming Soon" on the Web site. A Dell executive was taken by surprise when questioned recently by New York Times reporter Ashlee Vance about plans around a MacBook-Air like laptop.
Dell also leaked out accessories available for a product called Adamo Thirteen, which could indicate a laptop with a 13-inch screen, taking into account Dell's product naming conventions. The company already offers the Inspiron Mini 9, which has a 9-inch screen, and Inspiron Mini 12, which has a 12-inch screen.
Impressive designs and a loyal customer base allows Apple to charge a premium for its products, but Dell could make ultraportable laptops more affordable, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT.
"There would be a large and enthusiastic audience for competitively priced luxury goods -- particularly with the economy in the doldrums," King said.
The trick for Dell will be to develop a truly striking laptop that delivers on the company's traditional value proposition, King said. Ultraportable laptop owners expect others to drool over their laptops, so style and coolness are critical factors in addition to price.
Though Apple holds a clear advantage in laptop design, Dell is working to redefine its notebook family, as shown in the August refresh of its Latitude laptop line. The new Latitudes were impressive with new designs and form factors, so the company is serious about designing laptops that appeal to customers, King said.
However, how Dell came up with the name "Adamo" remains a mystery. Adamo in Latin means to find love or pleasure, which points to Dell trying to invoke the lust factor for the product.
The naming convention is interesting on another count, which is related to CEO Michael Dell, said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. Adamo is still a rumor, and one can't be sure about whether it is an ultraportable, Kay said.
"But the code name is interesting, given that Michael's brother's name is Adam," he added.
If Adamo is an ultraportable, Dell could start talking about it in a few weeks at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which will be held between Jan. 8 and Jan. 11. Dell seems content sending teasers to consumers until then.
Dell earlier leaked out accessories available on its Web site for Adamo Thirteen, which it later deleted. Dell listed a 45-watt AC adapter, which is similar to the 45-watt MagSafe power adapter used in the MacBook Air.
Dell also leaked a DVD+/-RW slot drive. Few ultraportable laptops build in an optical drive due to size constraints, with one exception being Fujitsu's LifeBook P8020 laptop.
The company also listed a "DC to DC auto/air adapter" accessory, an external hard drive and Displayport HDMI and VGA video dongles for the Adamo Thirteen.
Dell did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.