Miniaturisation is big these days. Asus' brilliant Eee PC not only had a profound effect on the notebook sector, single-handedly laying the foundation that made the netbook a success, but it also allowed the company to expand that tiny form factor onto the desktop in the form of the Eee Box.
The problem with the Eee Box and its likewise Atom-using peers is that, unlike Apple's Mac Mini in that system's heyday, it lacks processing power. Current 1.6GHz Atoms are great chips due to their low power usage, but try to run some high definition video or multiple apps, and they'll struggle. But fear not, you can (on paper at least) have both a minuature and powerful system courtesy of Dell's Studio Hybrid Desktop. Essentially, what you're getting here is the internals of a laptop stuck in a desktop case. And while this is hardly the first PC to do that, few we've come across can match the Studio Hybrid for compactness and style.
For such a small device, the Studio Hybrid is shipped in a rather large box. That's a good thing, though, as the extra space fits lots of extras, including a metal stand along with a keyboard and mouse set that, aesthetically at least, makes Dell's usual peripherals look rather cheap. Equally pleasing is the Studio Hybrid's super-slim power brick, which makes a change from the lumps we often see.
Also included is a cable clip, shaped to resemble the machine itself; a cardboard sleeve containing the manuals and warranty information; and the system CDs. Among these you'll find an Audigy driver for the integrated Sound Blaster chipset, an applications disc, a driver disc, and OEM versions of Microsoft Works 9 and Windows Vista Premium 32-bit.
The wireless keyboard and mouse, meanwhile, match the Studio Hybrid's sleek and shiny looks perfectly. Saying that, they're only available in black, so if you want them to match the system you should go for the Slate Grey version. The three-button mouse has a piano-black, one-piece body with rubberised sides. Unfortunately the scroll-wheel does not support four-way scrolling, but the mouse fits nicely in the hand, with its two AA batteries giving it decent weight. However, it doesn't come close to the comfort or quality of even budget Microsoft or Logitech devices.
The keyboard is rather slab-like and has a large circular volume control flush with its surface. Its keys have plenty of travel but don't offer a pleasant tactile feedback and the spacebar is noisy. Overall, peripheral-wise, Dell provides a shining example (pun intended) of why you can't take such things at face value.