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Summary

Our Score

8/10

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Dell Studio 15 - 15.4in Notebook

It seems as though PC manufacturers are determined to target every niche possible in the pursuit of more sales. It's a trend led, in many ways, by Dell, who has taken it upon itself to create a laptop range to suit every need. As such there's Vostro for small businesses, Latitude for big ones, Inspiron for the price sensitive individual, XPS for the discerning techie, Precision for the demanding workstation and let us not forget Alienware and its gaming laptops - something the XPS range continues to dabble in, too.
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Then there's Studio. Wedged somewhere between the Inspiron, Dell's entry-level retail offering, and the more exclusive (read expensive) XPS range, the Studio range is Dell's answer to a mainstream all-rounder; something with a little style, plenty of options (including discrete graphics) and a good balance between price and performance.

This necessitates the use of cheaper materials so while the XPS range looks resplendent in its brushed metal, the Studio ranges have no such luxuries. This doesn't make them ugly, though; nothing of the sort. In fact, though the materials used are more prudent, the styling of the Studio 15 we're looking at today shares the angular lines and curved edges of its more affluent counterparts. So, though this isn’t an XPS per se, the two share a fair amount of DNA.
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This is, of course, a good thing. Despite the Studio 15 lacking the initial visual impact of an XPS, be it the M1330 or M1530, or for that matter HP's new Pavilion range (see: HP Pavilion dv5-1011ea), it has an understated class that's very reassuring. And, if you fancy spicing things up a bit, Dell offers its usual array of different colour lids, patterned motifs and also some funky arty pieces {above} designed by Mike Ming - a nod doubt to HP's use of special edition designs. These, of course, like the coloured 'microsatin' finishes (£29) will cost extra, £49 to be exact, but if you do fancy something a little more individual they're just the ticket and will certainly get you noticed wherever you go. For the shy retiring types you can always stick to the standard matte black finish and this is included in the price, so is a little cheaper too.

Our version, for what its worth, came with a graphite grey/black trim finish with a slightly half-hearted swirl design that starts on the lid and ends on the inside around the keyboard. As you might guess from our tone it's a little underwhelming so it's no surprise to see it and other similar designs no longer featuring as an option. As such, our 'as reviewed price' includes no case design, so you'll need to add the relevant amount if you want something a little more exciting.
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Dull finish aside we still like the Studio 15's design. Its angular lines, like on the XPS range, work rather nicely and there are some nice touches, like the slightly rubberised trim around the screen, the gently indented and subtly textured touchpad and the power and wireless buttons on the end of each hinge. Above the keyboard are an unfussy array of touch sensitive media controls and Dell continues to use slot-loading optical drives, something that never fails to aid any notebook's aesthetic. Overall, it's very neat and tidy, while the addition of an ExpressCard remote is a welcome and increasingly essential addition.

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