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We feel compelled to praise Dell's uncomplicated design. It's been a facet of all their recent products and the 1764 is no different. We like the option of a coloured lid too, though the choice between pink and blue in addition to the standard black seems a little limited. If we're going to pay £30 extra for it, some greater variety doesn't seem an unreasonable demand.
All the same, whatever lid you choose, inside the machine exudes stylish simplicity. We love the silver palm-rest segment, which creates the illusion of brushed metal despite actually being plastic, and it sits very nicely alongside the matte black keyboard and glossy black screen bezel.
It helps that, despite being a considerable 420mm wide, the 1764 is actually quite thin - just 28mm at its thickest and as little as 20.5mm at the slightly tapered front edge. This is aided by the slim lid, which is made possible by the now ubiquitous LED backlighting that lights the display.
The display itself does suffer from quite narrow viewing angles - a common problem among laptops - but on the plus side it's very bright and sharp. It also delivers nice, rich colours and a good sense of contrast in videos. It still struggles to bring out finer shadow detail, but for general use it can't be fairly faulted. Its 1,600 x 900 pixel resolution, while not great for Full HD content, offers decent desktop real-estate.
It'll certainly do for both entertainment and productivity, but the speakers - "enhanced" by SRS technology - aren't much to listen to. It doesn't help that they're housed beneath the front edge of the machine, but nonetheless they're the usual, slightly tinny speakers we find on so many laptops. They do reach decent volumes, however, so are good enough for online video and similar.
We were similarly underwhelmed by the keyboard. In some respects it's quite good. Its layout is fine and there's a numeric keypad, which is always a useful addition on a large laptop. Unfortunately, while accurate enough, the key actions feel light and cheap, lacking the defined snap we'd like and exhibiting a slightly annoying rattle. It's still perfectly usable, but it could and ought to be a bit better.
We had no such issues with the touchpad. Though it lacks the now fashionable multi-touch support, it works fine and is well-proportioned. Its two buttons give good feedback.