Product Type: Dell laptops
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Dell Studio 15 - a laptop with bite
Dell Studio 15
Member Name: robbiehb
Dell Studio 15
Advantages: great design, mousepad is easy to use, long battery life, can be customised easily
Disadvantages: slightly weighter, especially with a 9-cell battery - but still portable
I ordered a customised Dell Studio 15 about the 20th September and was at first disappointed with the scheduled delivery date of the 5th October; instead I found myself pleasantly surprised as it arrived around a week earlier, complete with altered specification and all the add-ons I selected pre-installed. This was Microsoft Office Student Edition 2007, Vodafone 60 days free mobile broadband, 15 months McAfee Anti-Virus free (as part of a deal they had on) plus other accoutrements. The convenience of having everything preinstalled is something which cannot be overstated in terms of starting out with your laptop easily and hassle free!
The model and customisations came to a total of around £720, BUT thanks to a 5% voucher code from myvouchercodes.co.uk it was a little lower than that! For this I got a Windows Vista Home Premium (64bit), Intel Core Duo 2 P7350 2.0 GHz, 4GB of RAM, 320GB SATA (7,200rpm), ATI Radeon 4570 512MB, an upgrade to Intel Centrino a/g/n Wireless Card, an upgrade to a 9-cell battery, a 2.0 megapixel integrated webcam, a free upgrade to Windows 7 if I so desire and of course the all important Midnight Blue with Microsatin Finish colouring. As well as the MS Office Student (bought for £60 extra, so slightly annoyed to see Microsoft drop the price to £39 as part of a Student deal!), 15 months McAfee, 1 year's free Datasafe 2GB Online backup and 60 days Vodafone broadband obviously.
I've had the laptop for slightly over a week now and have been very happy with the ease of transition from PC to laptop. The keyboard isn't spongy and feels firm and comfortable to type on, as I'm doing now, and the media keys at the top of the keyboard make it easy to silence or increase/decrease volume and play/pause/fast forward/rewind and eject discs. Incidentally, there's no pop-out tray for DVDs; instead the machine "sucks" them in, which makes the whole process feel much less flimsy. I've been watching the West Wing with this on the rather nice 15.6" widescreen and the picture quality is excellent. The Midnight blue finishing is attractive and slightly rubberised to the touch, but has managed to accumulate a scratch within the first two weeks that won't disppear - so its not exactly very tough.
The general design of the laptop is excellent though, keyboard demarcated easily by being black to the silver surround and the touchpad integrated into the solid-looking and feeling casing, rather than bolted on top of it. I bought an extra keyboard to plug in for longer essays but that's turned out to be wholly unnecessary. The on/off button glows when it's on and fades in and out when the machine is hibernating, which is vaguely reassuring. There are 3 USB ports (although one is eSATA as well), a 1394 port, LAN connection, plug ins for two headphones and a one microphone (although there's a built in microphone, as I found out on Skype!), a HDMI port and monitor port for plugging in, for example, an extra screen, a well as an SD/MMC port and MS/Pro port, both of which have plastic plug ins to stop them being damaged by wear and tear or by the accumulation of dust.
User interface wise, having been used to XP Pro, Vista is much more clean cut. Additions like the Windows Sidebar to show share prices, currency exchange, news, weather, picture slide show, a notebook, clock and CPU meter just to give examples, all of which contribute to making it more intuitive and intelligent. The battery life is excellent, around 4-5 hours with a 9 cell on power saver, and it's easy to take the library without having to take a weighty power charger. Admittedly, with the 9-cell, it is slightly heavier but still easily manageable to carry around easily. They keys aren't sticky at all and there's a comforting click to the keys when you press them. Sound quality both through the keyboard-length built-in speaker and through headphones is adequate but obviously not exemplary. Fine for listening to YouTube or watching TV or most music; generally the simpler applications, but buy some higher performance speakers if you need good quality sound. The fan (or fans, I think) in the base of the laptop run only when necessary and in general the laptop is exceedingly quiet; almost imperceptible in a room, so long as you aren't pushing it for all the performance it has. I regularly run Spotify in the background, a couple of Word documents and Firefox with no problems.
For a first-time laptop user, the 15 was an excellent choice and will, I hope, continue to be reliable, fast, and versatile over the coming months and years!
Summary: Overall, an easy to use and appropriate multimedia laptop with great versatility.
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