Review: Dell's Studio 17 packs a big screen for a big peformance - pity on the big price

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Review: Dell's Studio 17 packs a big screen for a big peformance - pity on the big price

Packed with features, only its value for money lets it escape without an award this month

Our review model Dell 17 came with an eyewateringly green lid - it comes in a range of colours, and we were apparently sent the ‘puréed frog' model. Joking aside, the Studio is a good-looking system.
A row of white LEDs and topographical lines across the chassis top off the range of 19 colours available. The build quality is excellent, with robust hinges and little warp in the screen when we flexed the lid.

The large trackpad has horizontal and vertical scroll areas, and the accompanying mouse buttons are both comfortable and light.

The full-size keyboard is comfortable too despite the slightly odd design - the top of each key stands slightly proud of the main body - and it's a pleasure to type on. The glossy 17in screen isn't quite as good, partially because of the comparatively low native resolution of 1440 x 900.

We'd be wary of using the Studio 17 for anything demanding picture-perfect colour reproduction: deep blacks and bright whites lacked definition. Colours in games and movies also seemed a little pale. Despite this, detail is sharp and it's certainly good enough for general work.

The Studio 17 with its default processor - a 2.5GHz T9300 - generated a score of 1.26 in our benchmarks. Once you factor in the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650, it looks reasonably quick, if not as speedy as the Fujitsu, EliteBook or DV6.

The updated version now available has a T9550. These powerful core components mean battery life isn't great. The Studio 17 managed just 1hr 54mins in our light-use test; this is a laptop that won't leave the mains too often.

Four USB ports, plus eSATA, mini-FireWire, VGA and HDMI combine with an SD card reader, ExpressCard/54 slot, draft-n WLAN and Gigabit Ethernet to make the Studio 17 one of the most well-connected laptops we've come across. Twin 320GB hard disks and a DVD writer add to the stack of features.

Make no mistake, the Studio 17 is an excellent laptop, but Dell's exquisite design is again undermined by price.

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