Dell Studio XPS 16 with RGB LED Display - Audio & Video

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



  • Recommended by TR
Dell Studio XPS 16 with RGB LED Display


Our Score:


As you might expect, given this is a larger more multimedia orientated machine, the 1640 also features upgraded speakers over its smaller 13.3in cousin. These come in the form of two 7W drivers either side of the keyboard. Interestingly, Dell has chosen not to include any kind of mid/low-range sub-woofer underneath the machine. Ordinarily, we'd call Dell out for this, but partly because the speakers are reasonably good and partly because, however good the speakers, we'd still recommend a set of headphones or separate speakers, we're not going to. We will, however, query the lack of Dolby Home Theatre (a valuable addition in our experience) as well as the irritating way the speaker grilles collect grime and rubbish that's practically impossible to get rid of…grrrrrr.

Putting aside such grumbles for now, though, it's about time we get back to where we started: the display. As intimated it is a real gem. Its wide colour gamut is obvious from the moment you turn the machine on and though it's arguably a little oversaturated out of the box, it's nothing a little calibration won't remedy - just remember that not all sensors can calibrate high colour gamut displays or ones with glossy finishes, so check first.

Nonetheless, as a whole, the colour fidelity of this RGB LED display is outrageously good compared to any other notebook display and even bests some decent desktop displays. We've never seen our high resolution test images look this good on a notebook before. Colours are bright, well defined and distinct and there's plenty of fine detail in shadows. This prowess, particularly the colour vibrancy, was very well demonstrated by our colourful and fast moving game benchmark, Trackmania Nations Forever.

Moving to some HD video, the golden yellows, subtle browns and bright oranges of explosions in the helicopter chase scene from Sahara are breathtaking, as are the cacophony of colours and hues in the carnival scene from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Motion is also enviably smooth, though we're not talking HDTV levels here, making this display just as good for film viewing as it is image work.

All-in-all, the display is a massive unique selling point for the Studio XPS 16. If put against, say, the 17in MacBook Pro - a traditional favourite among photographers and video editors - the Dell makes a very persuasive argument for itself. Indeed, the only plus point in Apple's column is the option for an anti-glare screen. This is admittedly a serious issue, but in this instance the colour fidelity of the Dell is a real attraction, as is the significantly lower price - the 17in MacBook Pro costs as close to £2,000 as makes no difference.


March 10, 2009, 2:17 pm

Your description of the display is incorrect. An "RGB LED" display like this one is identical to any other LED-backlit LCD display, except it uses seperate red, green, and blue LEDs, instead of the typical one-LED "blue-plus-phosphor" approach to generating white light. That gives a more accurate white light at the cost of great lightguide complexity. Displays using red, green, and blue LEDs for each pixel do exist, but they're the "jumbotron" kind of displays used for advertising and news in train stations etc. Shrinking down such a display to the size of a 16-inch laptop would cost many orders of magnitude more than the equivalent OLED display, never mind a conventional LCD.


March 10, 2009, 2:40 pm

Does RGB LCD mean that blacks are going to be 100% black on the screen and contrast ratio is going to be really, really close to infinity?


March 10, 2009, 3:23 pm

"Does RGB LCD mean that blacks are going to be 100% black on the screen and contrast ratio is going to be really, really close to infinity?"

No - you need local dimming LEDs for that, which this laptop doesn't have (and nor does any other laptop currently in production, AFAIK). This just has a normal flat backlight which happens to be provided by separate red, green and blue LEDs rather than white LEDs or one or more cold cathode fluorescent lights. The separate RGB LEDs provide a wider colour gamut, but they don't (as the article originally incorrectly suggested - I think it has been rectified now) individually light each pixel.


March 10, 2009, 3:26 pm

@sockatume - You are of course right. The concept of RBG LED is to produce a completely clean, white light, and ultimately improve colour fidelity. Screens like this usually use a matrix of LEDs to create more even contrast and colour purity too. Thanks for the spot - review updated.


March 10, 2009, 4:03 pm

No bother, it's an easy mistake to make given the sort of marketing RGB LED has been getting. Of course, in a couple of years we'll probably be seeing OLED displays in laptops, and then we really will have the truly black displays that Лис looks for.


March 10, 2009, 4:57 pm

Thanks guys, been waiting for your review!

It's unfortunate tho, that I just had to cancel my order due to shocking delivery times. My delivery by - date was moved three times, and I've been waiting for almost two months now, with the new date still 2-3 weeks out..

Being a huge movie buff and casual photographer I was really looking forward to the screen! Sorry Dell, but your time taking has "forced" me to join El Jobso's camp.


March 10, 2009, 11:05 pm

"Dell has chosen not to include any kind of mid/low-range sub-woofer underneath the machine."

Actually, 1640 has a subwoofer, albeit a poor one.

From Dell's official description page:

Cinematic sound

For extraordinary sound quality, the Studio XPS 16 has premium speakers with an integrated subwoofer and 5.1 Dolby® Digital outputs.


March 10, 2009, 11:41 pm

Would I be able to connect a dell 30" monitor to the laptop. I'm aware you can get HDMI -> Dual Link DVI-I adapters, but can they support 2560 x 1600 resolutions @ 32bit colour?


March 11, 2009, 1:18 am

I see everyone seems to be going for that piano black//digital picture frame bezel that the MacBooks have been touting.


March 11, 2009, 10:15 am

"I see everyone seems to be going for that piano black//digital picture frame bezel that the MacBooks have been touting."

HP did it first before Apple.

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