Product Type: Dell laptops
Newest Review: ... 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-... more
Dell Studio 15
Member Name: kylemonahan
Dell Studio 15
Advantages: Sleek, Good-spec, Lots of ports, Reliable
Disadvantages: My laptop lid ended up disintegrating - but this can be replaced!
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!
Summary: A good, faithful and reliable laptop
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