Review Price free/subscription
This gradual move to 16:9 aspect ratio displays in notebooks is starting to win us over. Yes, you do lose a few vertical pixels, but given we've seen such pleasures as the 1,600 x 900 13.1in effort in the Sony VAIO Z Series (see: Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B) and the magnificent 1,920 x 1,080, RGB LED one in the Dell Studio XPS 16 we're looking today, there are enough points in the 'pros' column to even things out. Clearly this is good news for Dell, then, since this is the first and only 16in notebook to sport such a display - the closest alternative being Sony's 18.4in VAIO AW11XU/Q, which you won't see south of £2,000.
Let us rewind a little, though, to explain what we're actually talking about here. Chances are you'll have heard of LED backlit screens; they're very common among netbooks and any notebook whose aim is to be thin and light. However, RGB LED is the name given to a display that uses red, green and blue (hence RGB) LEDs, as opposed to just white LEDs as a backlight.
As a result the display in the Studio XPS 16 can reach something approaching 100 per cent of the Adobe RGB colour space, giving this machine one of widest colour gamuts you'll see on a notebook. This is great for watching films or TV, but is arguably of more import to anyone editing images, where the high colour accuracy is of particular interest.
We'll be taking a more detailed look at the images produced by this display a little later, but first we'll take a cursory glance at the Studio XPS 16's chassis. Anyone who read the review of the promising if slightly flawed Studio XPS 13 will recognise the lineage, since the 1640 (as it is also known) looks identical save for its obviously larger frame. However, measuring 33.95mm at its thickest, 24.1mm at its thinnest and weighing 3.06kg, it's no porker, even if it doesn't quite slip under the 3kg mark like Apple's new 17in MacBook Pro.
In any case, the jury is still out on the new Studio XPS design. Our sample doesn't exhibit some of the more alarming quality control issues of the 1340, such as the wobbly base, but there are points where the silver trim isn't as firmly fixed as it ought to be and we're still none too enamoured by the looks or durability of that leather strip on the lid. Still, the glossy black and silver accenting is a nice combination, as is the edge-to-edge 'frameless' display and backlit hinges.
Speaking of backlighting, the other key standard feature on all Studio XPS machines is the backlit keyboard. As on the 1340, though, the non-isolated nature of the keyboard means a certain level of bleed when viewed from an angle. Our opinion of the keyboard hasn't improved much, either. Its basic layout is fine, more or less perfect in fact, but keys are uneven and lack a little feedback. It's not quite bad enough to make this machine one to avoid, but it does take a little getting used to.