Dell Studio 1555 review

24 Aug 2009

Dell brings its Studio 15 bang up to date with a 15.6in, 16:9 ratio display, but patchy build quality limits its appeal

Price when reviewed 
699
4

Dell's Studio laptops are an alluring bunch; fitting snugly between the brand's budget-conscious Inspiron line-up and the premium XPS ranges, the Studio 15 and Studio 17 blend classy good-looks with surprisingly affordable prices. Adaptation is the key to survival, though, and the newest arrival, the Dell Studio 1555, marks an evolutionary step forward.

You'd be forgiven for not noticing any dramatic changes over its predecessor, but there are some subtle changes. Most notable of these is the disappearance of the 15.4in, 16:10 ratio display. In its place there now stands a 15.6in, 16:9 replacement.

It's still LED-backlit and capable of lending impressive punch and vibrancy to images. As per usual with Dell, there's a choice of resolutions, and while our model sported the basic 1,366 x 768, you can pay a £100 premium for a Full HD panel.

Fat club

Several of PC Pro's staff noted how chunky the Studio looks, and set against the current crop of netbooks and slim-line ultraportables, there's no argument that Dell's latest looks like it could do with shedding a few pounds.

Dell Studio 1555 rear

It isn't a bad-looking notebook, though. The beefy wedge-shaped design and modern curves lift it well out of the ordinary, and at 2.61kg it's a little lighter than some of the 15.6in competition.

Alas, build quality seems to have taken a turn for the worse. Applying gentle pressure to the Studio 1555's lid leaves it creaking ominously, and twisting motions reveal worrying amounts of give.

With even light prods on the back of the lid causing distortion on the display - a sign of the display casing fouling the LCD panel inside - this is one laptop that, where possible, we'd keep firmly ensconced in a well-padded laptop bag.

It's a shame, too, since the base is quite the opposite. Stout and solid, it provides a sturdy, flex-free wristrest and feels resilient enough to survive the odd knock here and there.

Details

Price ex VAT £608
Price inc VAT £699
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 372 x 249 x 43mm (WDH)
Weight 2.610kg
Travelling weight 3.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo P8600
Motherboard chipset Intel PM45
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.5in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface 7200
Hard disk Western Digital Scorpio Black
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive LG GA10N
Battery capacity 5,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 45min
Overall application benchmark score 1.19
Office application benchmark score 1.26
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.15
Encoding application benchmark score 1.09
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.27
3D performance (crysis) low settings 59fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery disc