On area where the Studio 15 stands out, especially for a machine of this price, is performance. Its PCMark05 score of 6,037 placed it comfortably ahead of similarly priced machines such as the Samsung Q310 and Asus N50. Its 3DMark06 score of 4,200 is also pretty reasonable. It may not be enough for hardcore gamers, but at least it stands half a chance.
A respectable performer, although the battery life could be better
HD content proved no problem for it, with it able to playback both 720p and 1080p clips without an issue. Vista pegs its Windows Experience Index score at 5.1, which breaks down as: 5.3 processor, 5.9 memory, 5.1 graphics, 5.3 gaming graphics and 5.4 hard disk. Given the scale tops out at 5.9 that's pretty good.
Battery life was less impressive, with it managing to last just a minute over two hours running the PCMark05 test on a loop. Given that this is an extreme test, you could probably achieve something approaching the four hour mark with more moderate use. The Studio 15 wasn't overly noisy when running at full pelt and it didn't kick out a massive amount of heat either, so you shouldn't run into any problems using it on your lap if there isn't any desk space available.
For the money, the Studio 15 is a very well equipped laptop and its performance scores are not to be sniffed at. It may not be the most portable of machines and its battery life is a little on the low side, but if you're happy to stay still and near mains power you won't be disappointed. Add in the ability to choose a distinctive case design and you've got a good looking, well specified, decent performing laptop for a reasonable price tag. ®
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Have this and love it
Very nice machine for the price. I have the 1920x1080 screen with otherwise similar specs to the review and its both looks nice and functions very well. Its also reasonably light for a 15" laptop which is nice so while I wouldn't want to do long walks with its still perfectly reasonable.
The only down sides to me are that the function keys are combined with the volume keys etc which is a pain because I use both a lot and there's not an equivalent of capslock for the function key. The backlit keyboard looks great and has a nice smooth texture but I find it very soft and with too much flex for my liking. Not unbearable but I wouldn't write any books on it.
It's a uniform 16:9 resolution, which is sadly the direction the industry's heading.
Also a fan
Dell included software aside (I nuked it and installed windows7), it's a huge leap forwards over my last machine.
Takes a lot of the stuff from the XPS series, and puts it into a decent midrange machine. I get over 5 hours runtime with the 9 cell battery, the 1920x1080 screen can get a bit squinty at times, but being LED backlit it's pretty damn good colour wise, easily good enough to process photos.
1920 on 15" is fine
I've had a Dell with a 15.4" 1920x1200 res screen and I'll never go back. Just up your DPI to 150 in Linux (or up your font sizes in Windows XP) and you can see everything fine and crisp.
@ Jonathan White - About portability
I use a laptop and an esata drive for recording bands from a digital mixer on location. In these mobile recording situations, Id rather not have to lug a full pc, expecially as space is also a concern. Due to the length of sessions and the fact that my esata drive requires external power via a wall wart, I have to plug them in. So, there is an example contrary to your thinking.
Jobs is the Devil for thinking he knows what I want.