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Dell continues trying and updating their notebook designs this year, and the new Dell Studio 15 is the latest consumer 15-inch notebook that highlights these new designs. Is it possible taking design elements from the 13.3" XPS M1330 and the 15.4" Dell XPS M1530 and make a budget notebook that keeps consumers happy? Take a look at our full review of the Studio 15 to find out for yourself.
We purchased our review unit of the Studio 15 from Staples where they offer set configurations of the Studio 15. Our budget configuration cost $799. Fully customized configurations are available at Dell.com.
As mentioned in our first look, we had hoped to conduct a full review of a custom-ordered Studio 15 machine with an orange colored lid. Unfortunately, the shipping date for our review unit was pushed back more than a month … so we will complete our full review based on the pre-configured model available at Staples.
The Good Borrows are some of the best design features of the more expensive XPS line; built-in media remote control.
The Bad Bulkier than the 15-inch XPS model; just under the wire for new Centrino 2 chips.
The Bottom Line Dell's first release from its new Studio line, the Studio 15, sits between the Inspiron and XPS lines and offers a good mix of features for the price, but we'd be tempted to save up a few extra dollars for a thinner, lighter XPS.
Parsing the intended markets for Dell's ever-shifting in-house brand names requires a bit of tea-leaf reading, although it's been easier of late, with the company stripping down its consumer brands to just the Inspiron and XPS lines. Now the company is adding a new line between the budget Inspiron and the high-end XPS. The new Studio line, as personified by the $1,250 15-inch Studio 15, has the same tapered shape, slot-loading optical drive, and rounded hinge as the Dell XPS M1530, but a similarly configured Studio system costs roughly $300 less than a similarly outfitted XPS.
The trade-off is mostly in size and finish. Even though it has a similar look, the Studio laptop is about 25 percent thicker and slightly heavier than its more upscale XPS cousin, with plastic accents instead of metal. We'd be tempted to toss in the extra $300 for the brushed-metal wrist rest and slimmer design of the XPS, but the Studio line does offer personalization options (lots of colors and graphic imprints) beyond what's available for Dell's other laptops, along with a slot-loading optical drive and credit-card-style media remote for about $200 more than a similarly configured Inspiron 1525 (not including discrete graphics, which are not available on the 1525).
I have had my Dell Studio 15 since September 2009. I've used it to play games, do college work, and other minor things. Anytime I have had an issue with something on the laptop the Dell support has been readily available to help me out and solve the problem quickly.
I've seen a lot of reviews on here that say that this laptop overheats easily. I find this FALSE. (caps used for emphasis) Mine has never crashed because of becoming too hot, but it has become hot enough that the bottom was uncomfortable to touch.
I have also read many reviews saying it has a terrible battery life. Mine is 3 years old and by setting it on "Power Saver" form the Power Options window, I get about 4-5 hours of battery life.
For those of you who don't know or are curious, if you look in the bottom right corner of the screen there should be a battery icon that you can right-click on and select "Power Options" which will open a window that you can choose one of three different ways for your battery to use its juice. There's one that devotes most of the juice to high performance, but this drains the battery quickly. There's another that saves power (which is what I use), but says that it doesn't give very good performance - for doing college work, surfing the internet, playing games, and streaming videos/movies I find the level of performance to be very adequate for this option. The third level is a balance between the two...well, it says balance, but it devotes slightly more juice to performance than battery life (it's like a "55-45" ratio.)
Now, here are the things I find unfortunate about this laptop.
1. No number pad - this isn't awful, just inconvenient.
2. No indication of whether or not Caps Lock is on unless you're on the log in screen. - Slightly annoying, but it's not too hard to type a letter and see the result.
3. The grips on the bottom of the laptop come off easily if you slide your computer around on your desk. I lost all of mine over the course of the 3 years I've owned it, but unless you're always working on a slanted surface you really don't need them.
Overall, I think this is a nice computer to have despite other reviews. I purchased mine from a Best Buy in 2009. I run Windows Vista and have not/will not "upgrade" to Windows 7 because Vista works for me.
Oh! I have dropped the laptop repeatedly, but one time I dropped it hard enough to mess up the disc drive and Dell sent out a repairman "to my house" and he repaired it without any questions. It was very nice.
I hope this review has helped you decide whether or not to purchase this product.
One of many great things about the Studio line is that you can opt for a third-party graphics card to give your system some video and gaming oomph, unlike with the lower-end Inspirons. Granted, Dell only currently offers the 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 as an option for the Studio 15, but this midrange graphics engine delivered a respectable 2,085 on our 3DMark06 test at 1,024x768 resolution. It also churned out an average 16 frames per second (fps) on our F.E.A.R. test (run at the same resolution). If you need better gaming performance than that, the similarly priced Toshiba Satellite A305-S6845 delivered higher frame rates on the more visually complex Company of Heroes (31fps at 1,024x768), thanks to its 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 graphics.
In addition to solid performance, the Studio packs plenty of features. An optional LED-backlit 15.4-inch wide-screen display pumps out bright, rich color, and you can choose among three resolutions when configuring your system. (Ours was the midrange 1,440x900 version.) At our test unit's price, you get 2GB of RAM to go with a top-shelf Core 2 Duo T9300 processor. Unfortunately, the Studio in its current configuration misses out on the recently launched Centrino 2 technology.
There are almost too many additional bells and whistles to mention. A slot-loaded DVD burner is a nice, clean touch; plus, you can upgrade to a Blu-ray reader/DVD±RW for an additional $200. The Studio's keyboard, which has a nice, soft feel yet plenty of traction, offers two brightness levels courtesy of its backlight. Meanwhile, connection options include an HDMI port for high-definition output, five USB ports, FireWire, and a multiformat memory-card reader, as well as a PC Card slot that doubles as a place to stow the included media remote control. Connectivity includes built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and wireless wide-area-network (WWAN) options. You also get a built-in 2-megapixel Webcam residing above the screen. Our unit came with the optional fingerprint reader for extra security, but it appears you cannot add it to the lowest-price configuration Dell has available on its Web site. Instead, you'll need to choose a configuration with 3GB of RAM to have the fingerprint reader installed on your system.
Besides MS Works, Dell also throws in some nifty utilities like Video Chat, the new Dell Dock (a desktop launcher bar a la Mac OS X), and Media Direct (a multimedia tool, much like Apple's Front Row, that you can call up via one of the touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard). Unlike similar touch-sensitive controls on other machines, however, the ones on the Studio we tested actually work, which was a welcome surprise. Still, we wish Dell had included a software volume meter to correspond with the pressing of the buttons, since we had to resort to using the Windows volume meter just to see where our volume was preset every time.
Audio from the stereo speakers was loud, but a bit tinny and distorted at top volume. DVD playback was clear and smooth. And the included six-cell battery lasted 2 hours and 6 minutes on our DVD drain test.
I got this Dell 15 to play games.Being a gamer I needed a computer which could handle graphics and had RAM capabilities. Well the graphics was really another company's headache but, few laptops provided that kind of customization, Dell being one of the few. Anytime I have had an issue with something on the laptop the Dell support has been available to help me out and solve the problem quickly. and what can I say I was impressed . The brightness of the screen is at a acceptable level and it is truly gorgeous. It has a sleek design and it is not to large. It comes with a good graphics card. It has made my life so much easier , love it that it has two headphone jacks. The battery has a good life span and it even has facial recognition software when you login, The laptop speakers are good quality and its got a good sd reader and memory of 8gb ram. The HDMI output is a very nice feature because you can hook your computer to your TV and watch movies, or play games.
There are some bad points through about this laptop .
The laptop can get very warm. The cooler runs off USB (but you don't lose a port because it has some on it), keeps the laptop from getting warm, and fits perfectly. I suggest the black one.It is Somewhat hefty and only has 3 usb ports and there is no number pad functionality
I brought this laptop for college and let me tell you, i was disappointed. First of all when i got it it looked very cheap and didnt look like a well made laptop. Bits of the laptop fell off after the first use of it and it malfunctioned after a few uses. The keyboard functionality was good until about a week later when most of the keys fell out. The fans and hardware inside the laptop were really loud and i couldnt concentrate while writing my essays. However when watching youtube views the sound was clear. This was until the speakers in the laptop broke and i had to get them replaced costing me another £150. The laptop is also very heavy to carry around in my laptop bad and is also very bulky. It is so bulky i had to get a specialist laptop bag made for it costing me yet again.
Dell's first release from its new Studio line, the Studio 15, sits between the Inspiron and XPS lines and offers a good mix of features for the price, but we'd be tempted to save up a few extra dollars for a thinner, lighter XPS.
Bought the machine new in Feb 2010 with
Intel Core i5 520m
ATI (now AMD) 5470
9 cell battery
500GB 7200 RPM drive
backlit keyboard to round it out.
Intel Cetrino wireless N card
First off Dell Service is excellent. This is what keeps me with them.
I received laptop and within 2 weeks Dell was at my house to replace the mainboard due to freezing intermittently when checking the DVD drive during POST. Since then machine has been flawless in running ouside of cosmestic issues.
The battery (9 cell) still lsats for 5 hours when using it to do yahoo chat and web browsi ng over wifi.
The 1080p display is awesome to say the least and hides the smudges when in use.
1. Reliable after first repair
3. Sound for a laptop
4. Easy access to ram and hdd and card slots
5. hinges are very well built and show no signs of wear
6. Beyboard and palm rest have aged gracefully
Quality of chassis construction that has resulted in the following:
1. Cheap plastic housing at the hinge points. I Have actually covered mine up with black electrical tape to hold them together as they no longer lock tight.
2. Over time the adhesive has come out from the rubber pad around the screen making them look nasty. I took them off and cleaned the adhesive off and put new adhesive on.
3. Due to chassis not being rigid like the other business machines (precision, lattitude, vostro), the screen has some marks on it from the keyboard
Now that the machine is being replaced with a Vostro 3450, it will be delegated to HTPC duty in my bedroom.
Up until now, the machine has been carreied every day that I work in a backpack and during the summer I ride on 2 wheels.
GENERAL Desktop type Gaming system Packaged Quantity 1 Product Form Factor Tower ManufacturerDell, Inc. CACHE MEMORY Installed Size L3 cache - 8 MB Cache Per Processor 8 MB PROCESSOR / CHIPSET Number of Cores Quad-Core 64-bit Computing Yes CPU Qty 1 Max CPU Qty 1 RAM Installed Size 8 GB / 16 GB (max) Form Factor DIMM 240-pin HARD DRIVE Spindle Speed 7200 rpm STORAGE CONTROLLER Type SATA - integrated CARD READER Type 19 in 1 card reader MONITOR Monitor Type None. GRAPHICS CONTROLLER Type plug-in card Graphics Processor ATI Radeon HD 5770 Video Memory 1 GB GDDR5 SDRAM INPUT DEVICE Type keyboard AUDIO OUTPUT Type integrated Compliant Standards THX TruStudio PC KEYBOARD Interface USB MOUSE Technology optical NETWORKING Wireless LAN Supported Yes Data Link Protocol Gigabit Ethernet Compliant Standards IEEE 802.11g
- Pretty nice layout
- Semi-Decent performance for the age and price
- 2 Headphone jacks
- Windows 7 (I'd consider this a plus, personally. Windows 8 is a little buggy right now)
- Facial recognition software. It's pretty neat to have access to and can help speed up login.
- Battery life is alright.
- Laptop speakers are surprisingly good for a laptop.
- SD/Media Card reader. Super useful for getting those pictures and such off of your phone or iPod
- Gets pretty warm pretty easily
- No number pad
Overall, this is a pretty decent laptop. It was a nice laptop to have to hold me over for a few semesters of school while I saved for another one. I was able to enjoy the SD/Media Card reader more than I thought. Being able to pull pictures off of my phone was handy. This is a pretty good laptop for a college student that plans on using it for homework.
I bought this product it in 2010. Been in for service once after about a year due to a failed DVD drive. Repairs were done very fast (5 days) and very happy with the service done under waranty. I paid a few dollars for another 2 year service program. No need to use it till now, 2013. The adapter is not charging the battery at all. I called for service but unfortunatly was told that the battery and adapter are not covered and Dell recommends that both the battery and adapter be replaced every 12 months. It's a very nice computer but it will cost an additional $180 every 12 months to keep it running so the long term cost of this Studio 1555 laptop is kinda high.
I would recommend this product for anyone starting college!!
This is my first Dell laptop that i have purchases and to be honest, i didnt know what to expect.
There were a fair amount of bad reviews for them. Since purchasing this item i have been practically glued to it and very pleased with its performance! Its a nippy wee machine. It gets used daily for multiple tasks, be it small word documents for my college course, internet searching or even watching movies on it. The high def screen and the back lit keyboard are also fantastic features. having to type in the dark is annoying so i dont think ill be buying another laptop without this feature!
Windows 7 runs smoothly on this machine so its easy to get the hang of the OS very quickly.
What this machine has going for it is:
it has a fast processor, a fairly large hard drive, a decent battery life (useful for taking it to college if i forget the charger), its amazingly beautiful screen and backlit keyboard ;D, its quiet which can be handy if working late at night...
The downfalls to this machine are minimal but they are as follows...
The shell its flimsy and feels like i could break it if i dropped it...its also very prone to being a police finger print pad...
minimal but can be annoying if you have a clean OCD like myself...
apart from this, this machine is almost perfect fro college and or uni courses :D
The slot-loading drive takes a bit getting used to, at first I was trying to be gentle and place the disc in but you have to push it in or it will force the disc out by itself. This is an outstanding value, don't let people in the forums fool you, the ATI Mobility 3450 is a fantastic card it can play all the COD Video Games in high quality settings very well. Do not buy this computer if you are a speaker type , because they are the worst, really. As for looks this thing will rival a Macbook pro maybe even might beat out it by a little. Overall its a good handy dandy computer if your a gamer and streamer.
The Dell Studio is a great all round laptop. With an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, it is a fast operating system. The Dell studio comes with the latest software package. The great thing about the Dell is that it is compatible with anything. Unlike an Apple Mac where you may have to purchase alternative software to even run microsoft word, the Dell Studio has everything you need.
It has an easy-on-the-eye desktop view, with simple access to shortcuts and a shortcut tab.
this laptop is a reasonable size and isnt particularly heavy, so it is easy to carry around, and it is the standard laptop size so it is also easy to buy laptop bags or cases for it.
The Dell studio comes in a variety of different colours which makes it fun and personal! I have a navy blue one which looks pretty slick! But they come in all sorts of colours to suit your taste!
It is a reliable laptop however many people find that Dell support is inadequate. Dell laptops have been known to stop working after a certain amount of time, and the support is timely. You have to send it off and wait for it to be repaired, thats if your warranty is still in tact!
With all my reviews on computers and computer accessories, I've only just realised that I haven't actually reviewed the main laptop on which I spend the majority of my time! I guess that I've had this laptop so long that I've just taken it for granted.
I purchased this laptop around 3 years ago after my previous Dell was starting to look and feel a bit dated. This is my third Dell and I have to say that I have always been reasonably impressed with the laptop I've purchased from them. In fact, the first Dell laptop that I purchased several years ago is still going strong and is still being regularly used by my sister! In terms of reliability, I haven't suffered any major problems with the laptops.
I originally purchased a laptop from the Dell Studio range for two main reasons. Firstly, the spec of the laptop was just what I was looking for - a good Dual-core processor, lots of RAM, a good (non-integrated) graphics card and lots of various ports for me to plug my various devices into. The Studio range comes a few different sizes, but I plumped for the 15 inch version as realistically a 17 inch screen is too big and bulky for transporting around, especially if you're taking it on holidays.
The second reason that I purchased the Studio was down to the design of the laptop itself. In all honesty, most laptop manufacturers (with the exception of Apple) tend to produce rather grey and boring laptops. This Dell was something a little different and the form integrated nicely with the function of the laptop. For instance, The hinge mechanism is quite ingenious and gives the laptop a much smaller footprint when the lid is opened.
I purchased directly from Dell themselves, and was offered a plethora of options when creating my laptop specification. Thankfully, the base model that I picked had all the equipment and features that I required, so I didn't need to pick any of Dell's optional extras/upgrades. If you do decide to choose a few optional extras, be prepared for the price to increase considerably. The laptop that I ordered ended up costing around £400 by the time I had finished, but apparently, they can cost as much as £1,800 if you were to choose all of Dell's optional extras.
To give you a quick run-down of the system I ordered: It included a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and a 512MB ATI HD Graphics Card. All-in-all, this gives the laptop a pretty good level of performance (although compared to todays latest Ivy Bridge powered laptops - it probably feels like a dinosaur!)
The laptop has coped with pretty much everything that I've thrown at it - including intensive work on Photoshop, high-demand computer games and multi-tasking several tasks at once. As long as you can keep the laptop cool enough and allow enough hot air to escape out of the laptop, it should maintain this performance also. If the laptop does start to overheat a little, you will notice a bit of lag now and again, but nothing that prevents you from using the computer as normal. After 3 years of use, the laptop does tend to heat up a lot quicker nowadays (probably due to the amount of dust that has accumulated inside the laptop!)
As far as I know, ever Dell Studio features the same ports on the chassis of the laptop. On the left hand side there is: HDMI and VGA for video, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an eSATA/USB combo port, a dedicated USB port, mini-FireWire and three audio ports for headphones and microphones.
On the right hand side is a 34mm ExpressCard slot, a multi-format card reader - one further USB port and the power input. Just above the power input is a small white LED to show when the system is charging, which unusually is the only activity light on the machine bar the backlit power button on the hinge.
After 3 years of use.... it hasn't all been plain sailing. Firstly, after about 2 years, my battery was next to worthless and a replacement had to be ordered. It's not a big deal as that's actually what you'd expect from most laptop batteries - expect to pay around £40 for a genuine Dell replacement. The original mains charger that came with the laptop broke after about a year and a half - and a replacement will cost around £20.
Battery life is good on a fresh battery and you can expect a few hours of reasonable use on each charge.
The worst problem, however, was the lid and hinge mechanism of the laptop. After about 2 years, the plastic around the hinge mechanism started to crack and come away from the laptop. I put up with this unsightly inconvenience for a while, but the problem soon spread and cracks started to appear on the lid itself. Again, I put up with this until eventually the laptop lid was starting to come away altogher! I didn't really want to replace the entire laptop because of some cracked plastic - especially as the laptop was still performing very well. I researched my options and soon discovered that you could buy a replacement lid and hinge mechanism. I purchased the new lid and hinge for around £50 and using the detailed, but excellent, instructions on the Dell support website, I fitted a new lid and hinge! Hopefully this should prolong the life of the laptop for another few years as I have no requirements for a new one at the minute!
All-in-all, a reliable laptop which is still going strong after 3 years of heavy usage. Replacement parts should hopefully allow me to keep this machine going for another few years!