The rest of the Studio Hybrid’s specifications aren’t particularly impressive either, with only 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM particularly stingy in this day and age. Of course this being Dell, you can upgrade the memory to 3GB at the click of a mouse button, but this will add an extra £30 onto the price, taking the overall system to well above £600!
On the other hand, considering the weak processor and graphics, 2GB might be as much as you’ll need. At least storage is generously taken care of by a 320GB hard drive, meaning most users should have plenty of room for music, photos and home videos. On the software side, you get a relatively clean install, compared to other manufacturers, though the pre-installed Google Toolbar is quite resource-hungry.
There’s a custom autumn-leaves wallpaper to help you feel good about your expensive purchase, and you’ll also find the Dell Dock – a launch bar reminiscent of the one in Mac OS X. This is a genuinely useful alternative to the start bar in some respects, although a similar applet can be found on the Internet for free.
Overall, what we’re left with is a machine that’s powerful enough for everyday usage, but the problem is that you’re paying over the odds for outdated notebook internals. General performance is quite poor, even being beaten by Dell’s own Inspiron 1525 which we reviewed over half a year ago!
If you’re simply looking for a fairly small machine that uses little power, you could get a Centrino 2 laptop like Medion’s Akoya S5610, which offers far better specifications and more connectivity for nearly £100 less than the cost of the Studio Hybrid Dell sent us. That said, you can spec the Dell to a more competitive price by downgrading to a lesser 1.86GHz T2390. Yes you’re getting slower and older components for your money, but in real-life activities such as word processing, web browsing or sending emails the difference will be nigh-on unnoticeable.
If you want an attractive mini desktop PC, the Studio Hybrid is a decent alternative to Apple’s Mac Mini. In fact, the Studio Hybrid offers better connectivity, a faster CPU, more memory (albeit with that £30 upgrade), twice the hard drive capacity, in addition to those various colour shell options.
Here’s the deal. If you want to play games, the Studio Hybrid isn’t for you. If you want to play high definition media, the Studio Hybrid isn’t for you. However, if you want a small, fairly attractive desktop system suitable for non-intensive day to day use then the Studio Hybrid isn’t exactly a bad option. It’s not perfect, it has limitations and we wish it used a more up-to-date platform, but fundamentally there’s little wrong that’s likely to be noticeable in normal use.
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