My New Dell Studio 17 Laptop

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Now that I’ve received my laptop and had a few weeks to play around with it it’s time to review…

My choice came with:

Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo Processor T8300(2.4GHz, 3MB Cache, 800 MHz FSB)
Memory 4GB(2x2G) Dual-channel 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Video Card 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650(Mobile Intel(R) 965PM Express Chipset)
Hard Drive 250GB SATA Hard Drive
Operating System Genuine Windows Vista(R) Home Premium 32 bit SP1 Edition (English)
Optical Drive Internal 8X DVD + /-RW Combination Drive with dual layer write capabilities
Audio Solution Intergrated Stereo Sound
2nd Hard Drive 250GB SATA 2nd Hard Drive
Dell Service: Hardware Maintenance 1 Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis
WinRe Dell(TM) PC-Restore
Wireless Network Card Dell Wireless 1510 802.11n Half Mini-Card
Bluetooth Module Dell(TM) Wireless 370 Bluetooth Module
Batteries 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
Item Included in the System Integrated 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet
8-in-1 media card reader
Dell Connect 2.1
External USB modem (WW)
Security Software McAfee(TM) Security Center(TM) – 15 Months OEM (English)
Optional Notebook Colour Kits Flamingo Pink Colour with Black U-Trim
Display 17” Widescreen WXGA + CCFL(1440×900) TFT Display with TrueLife(TM) with WebCam
Power Option 90W Primary AC Adapter (110V/220V)

It’s working well. It’s fast but I haven’t moved anything from my old desktop PC yet. it’s a task I’m trying desperately to avoid but one I need to do before I offload it to my little sis when I visit over the holidays.

I opted for the Flamingo Pink colour which I thought may have been the worst shade of pink I’ve ever seen (not such a fan of pastels) but I took the risk anyway. It’s not my favourite colour but it’s ok. The coating is quite rubbery and collects greasy fingerprints like nothing else. The whole laptop does!

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Please ignore the smudgy marks and look at the pink :]

I’m not a hardware geek and therefore this review won’t be written like one. I use my computer as a way to surf the Internet, write, watch video, listen to music and arrange my ipod. I don’t play games, I don’t code and I don’t set up fancy networks.

The screen
I wanted a 17″ screen so this laptop is more of a desktop replacement that a laptop (though I’ve been using it in bed which you can’t do with a desktop). So the screen is huge…and shiny. Looks pretty when it’s turned off, you can basically use it as a mirror. But when you’re trying to watch a movie it can be quite distracting. It makes the colours nice and sharp but if all you can see is your reflection that doesn’t help. This happens more on dark, especially black backgrounds. There’s no reflection on white backgrounds. The screen allows for a wide viewing angle.
Anything less than high definition video looks terrible.

Sound
I wasn’t expecting the speakers to do much because they’re built into a laptop, but the speakers on the Studio 17 are the worst I’ve ever heard! A quick search in Google tells me I’m far from being the only one that has had problems with these speakers. The audio constantly crackles and bass is non existent. I have discovered that turning off the wireless will stop the crackling and leave you with tinny sound instead which means you can’t watch a movie and download at the same time.
If you plan on using this laptop for any sort of audio have a good set of headphones or cables for your stereo on hand. There are two headphone ports available which is handy for sharing. The volume for the headphone ports is much higher than the speakers so remember to turn the sound down before attaching plugging your headphones in.

Vista
Everyone has an opinion on Vista so you’ve probably drawn your own conclusions already. I was less than pleased I couldn’t get XP but I’m slowly getting used to Vista. Constant checking that you do in fact want to open that website or install that program is frustrating.
Friends have commented that Vista Home Premium is much better than Vista Home Basic, so that is some consolation at least.

Keys
Although I’m used to a much bigger keyboard this one is quite nice to write with. The keys are springy and fluid. It comes with a dedicated number pad as well!
The media “buttons” are located along the top of the keyboard like I’m used to but they are not buttons at all they’re touch sensitive! No longer will you have to put the food down so you can hold the Fn button and press the volume increase at the same time. All you have to do is hold your finger over it and the backlight will glow :D

Webcam
The camera isn’t fancy, it’s about all you can expect from a little lens placed in the top of your screen but the software is pretty cute. I can make steam blow out of my ears or cupid dance around my head in a few clicks of the mouse.

Battery
This laptop is large so I’m not planning on lugging it around with me. If I did want to I could get over two hours battery life from the fully charged battery. I didn’t upgrade the battery as I was not planning on working away from a power source for long periods of time.

Service
The service I received from Dell NZ/Aus was fine. I ordered online and for some reason they do not have online payment facilities though they take your credit card details when you place your order. I was called the day after I placed my order to check my details because I had entered the wrong expiry date.

Two days after placing the order I got an email saying I would receive it within the next 8 days and 7 days later it arrived in Wellington from Australia.

In all it’s a pretty laptop, it’s chunky and heavy and not the type of laptop you would get for travelling. Sound is shit but otherwise it runs nicely. :] At $2099 NZD including delivery it’s not cheap but it is one of the few 17 inch laptops available.