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.
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