Image: Luxury laptop
Paul Sakuma  /  AP
Super model Hollis shows off the new luxury Dell laptop Adamo during a news conference at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
updated 1/9/2009 2:03:58 PM ET 2009-01-09T19:03:58

Computer maker Dell Inc., trailing Hewlett-Packard Co. in worldwide sales, could have used a home run at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Instead, it came to Vegas with a model and a mirage.

At a news conference Friday, Dell executives said the company would launch a luxury line of computers under the brand name Adamo. A model stood and removed a thin, black laptop from a bag and posed "Project Runway" style for a scrum of photographers. She did not turn on the computer, and Dell gave no details about what's under the hood.

Alex Gruzen, a senior vice president in Dell's consumer product group, would not say how much the new machine would cost, but emphasized that it would be a high-end, high-performance laptop. He defended the company's decision to launch a luxury line during a recession.

"It's not the only product we're launching," he said. "It's the right time, with the technologies and materials for us to satisfy a very important Dell customer segment."

Adamo, or "to fall in love with" in Latin, is set to debut with more details sometime in the next six months.

Dell and HP have excelled in delivering functional, powerful, inexpensive computers, but both are racing to meet a new generation of consumers' desire for a little more flair. In the meantime, Apple Inc. has gained share with sleeker designs.

In a recent interview at Dell's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, Dell's vice president of consumer experience design, Ed Boyd, declared that "the death of the utilitarian PC has occurred."

Dell did make some concrete announcements Friday, including two not-yet-released products, a 10-inch "netbook" PC and a tiny portable photo printer.

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