Inside, our Studio XPS 16 is ideally configured for the photography enthusiast, with a rapid 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU with 6MB L2 Cache and a 1,066MHz front-side bus. This is matched by 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM and for those who are greedy for system memory you can specify as much as 6GB or 8GB of the stuff. For graphics there’s a 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3670 and Gigabit Ethernet, Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth all come as standard.
Our version also comes, not unsurprisingly, with a Blu-ray ROM drive as well as a TV Tuner, while storage is provided by a capacious 500GB drive. It also came pre-loaded with the Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements bundle (a £60 extra), though we’ve left this off the final £1,419.00 price since it’s, strictly speaking, an optional extra.
As for the rest of the range, there are four standard configurations, starting at £929 inc. VAT, though this configuration nets you a lower resolution, non-RGB LED 720p display, no Blu-ray drive and no TV Tuner. At first glance this would seem like pretty shoddy value of money, especially compared to the significantly cheaper and excellent HP HDX X16-1005ea that we reviewed at £869.99 with a 1080p display, Blu-ray and a TV Tuner.
However, that was then and this is now and right now the weakening pound is pushing prices up, with the equivalent HDX 16 now priced at £1,099 online. Still, the lack of a non-RGB LED 1080p option on the Dell means an identical spec (with Full HD screen) to the HP means a higher final price of £1,238.99, so unless you truly desire after or need the high colour gamut of the Dell then the HP remains the better value investment. We should add, too, that despite being a multimedia machine, Dell doesn’t provide any kind of remote in the box. This is a pretty poor show given that HP manages to include two with its HDX machines.
Connectivity, though, as it was with the Studio XPS 13, is very good. You get three video connections, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort, three USB ports, one of which is an eSATA/USB dual-function port, a 54mm ExpressCard slot, four-pin FireWire and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. An IR receiver is also present, despite the lack of an included remote, as are dual-headphone outputs and a microphone input. Above the keyboard, meanwhile, is the usual assortment of touch sensitive media keys – all of which work just fine.
One other neat feature of the Dell is its power supply, which despite being a 90W unit, is quite thin and portable. This is matched by another signature Studio XPS feature, the highly useful power indicator on the power plug. Both these show that Dell is thinking in a slightly more practical way than most and it should be praised for this, even if its execution in other areas can sometimes be off the mark.