Dell Studio 17 (1735)
A leviathan of a laptop
- Excellent screen, good usability, eSATA port, HDMI port, latest connectivity options, interesting design options
- No Blu-ray drive, heavy
If you’re looking for a desktop replacement with processing power, plenty of storage, an excellent screen and great connectivity options then the Dell Studio 17 (1735) is a hard product to beat.
Price$ 2,339.00 (AUD)
Dell's new Studio 17 is a stylish leviathan of a notebook that's geared towards home users, with an emphasis on multimedia. It's well designed and has a good array of features, but its lime-coloured lid wasn't a pleaser. Luckily, it's only one of many available colours.
While funky lid colouring has already been seen in units such as the Inspiron 1525 and the Studio 17's chassis is nearly identical to the XPS M1530, right down to the L-shaped hinge, the notebook's right palm-rest features a new contour-map design that represents the western side of a mountainous range. It's etched in light-grey on a grey background, so the image doesn't stand out enough to be annoying.
The reason why the contour map can cover an entire western face is the unit's size. Similar to the NEC Versa P9210-2500DR in terms of price, weight and bulk, the Dell comes in at 3.7kg without the power supply and 4.2kg with it included. You will need a good amount of strength and a smart power management plan if you want to use this laptop on the go, a judgement cemented by our battery rundown test. The unit lasted just 1hr 23min.
But in terms of performance, the NEC outstrips the Studio 17 in almost every aspect; the former ships with a Blu-ray player rather than a DVD-RW drive and it also returned better benchmark scores.
The Dell unit we received used a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor with 4GB of DDR2 RAM and two 250GB hard drives that spun at 5400rpm. In our WorldBench 6 testing, the Studio 17 returned a healthy score of 95, which means that users will have no problems editing images in Adobe Photoshop or encoding movies. Our iTunes test, where we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3 files, returned a time of 1min 11sec. While this is very slightly slower than what we were expecting, it's still a very good time.
Gamers will be disappointed by the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 GPU returning a score of 2955 in 3DMark06 testing. While newer DirectX 10 games may not run at all, older games such as F.E.A.R. will run at middle to low settings.
One shining feature of the notebook is its 17in screen. Sporting a native Full HD resolution of 1920x1200 and a good viewing angle, the display is perfect for users wanting to manipulate and view high-definition content. While the lack of a Blu-ray drive is a disappointment, buyers who wish to include a Blu-Ray player can do so for a higher price. Dell has bundled a digital TV tuner card that fits into the ExpressCard/54 slot to allow HDTV viewing. This worked fine in our tests and we were able to use Windows Vista Media Centre to watch TV.
When it comes to usability, the Studio 17 is a winner thanks to a full-sized keyboard with a number pad, as well as keyboard backlighting that makes working in low-light situations easier. The key bounce back isn't as firm as we'd like it to be, but this is just nit-picking.
For expansion ports and connectivity, this notebook is well covered by five USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, a FireWire S400 port, an ExpressCard/54 slot, a built-in card reader, a D-Sub port and an HDMI port for connecting the laptop to LCD and plasma panels.
802.11n Wi-Fi is built-in, along with a Gigabit Ethernet port. Bluetooth is also available.
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