Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 (2 cores @ 2.0GHz)
3.0Gb DDR2 RAM
280Gb Hard Drive
ATI Radeon HD3650 Mobility 256Mb
Windows Vista PremiumDesign:
The main feature of the Studio 17 is the high-resolution 17" screen. It is excellent for watching movies and playing games, especially in HD. The only problem I have with the screen is the fact that it has a glossy coating, which means it reflects the environment a lot and is hard to see in bright light. However, most screens are like this nowadays.
The touchpad is a very good replacement for a mouse, with options for scrolling and zooming. It it very responsive and feels good to use. The keyboard is set a good angle, and you will not find it uncomfortable to type with. However, some parts of the keyboard can sink when pressed too hard. The Studio 17 also has a row of touch-activated media buttons along the top of the keyboard. While I obviously use the volume controls, I never use the others as they only work with the shipped Dell media software.
There are four USB ports and an SD/MMC card reader, which I find very useful as it makes it a lot easier to transfer pictures from my camera. There are also HDMI and VGA outputs, 2 headphone jacks and a microphone jack. The slot-loading disc drive cuts down on the space required but it can be very noisy.
The fans and heat sinks in the laptop work very well and with little noise. The laptop gets warm but not hot enough that it is uncomfortable to have on your lap.
Lastly, you should consider going for the smaller, Studio 15 if you intend to use it regularly while travelling etc. as the Studio 17 is not very portable. Due to the 17" screen the laptop is very large and is not easy to transport. However, it makes a very good desktop replacement, especially if you a looking to save space.
While not a particularly powerful gaming PC, the set-up I purchased is able to run most modern games on medium-high settings. However, at higher resolutions it can struggle. It is an excellent PC for watching HD video, although as my set-up did not include a Blu-Ray drive there are few opportunities to view HD content. The speakers possess, understandably, poor sound quality but you will find they are better than most laptop speakers. The default Dell sound card is very good and with a decent pair of headphones the sound is excellent. If you plan to use the Studio 17 for watching films or listening to music regularly I would recommend upgrading to a good set of speakers. You have the option of a 6 cell battery and for an extra £100, a 9 cell. I went for the former because I mostly have my laptop on my desk, plugged in. You will find that the battery will last 1.5-2 hours, if you are not playing games or using more demanding programs.
The Studio 17 comes shipped with many programs, including the Dell Dock. This is similar to Stardock and the Mac dock and if a very convenient way to access your most frequently used applications. I have had the laptop for four months now and have not yet experienced any major problems. However, when using the SD card slot, be very careful as the card and dust cover can easily get jammed, proving very difficult to remove.
Overall, the Studio 17 makes for an excellent, affordable family PC for everyday tasks, with options to upgrade to a more powerful PC is you have a bigger budget.
NB: Delivery takes about 2-3 weeks.