Dell's Slick Studio Laptops
Product mentioned in this article
Dell Studio XPS 16
Dell's Studio line shines with a notebook that provides sharp designs and smart features without a hefty price tag.
Dell has announced at CES that it's updating its popular Studio line with some attractive new models, namely the Studio XPS 13 and 16. The emphasis here is on style plus functionality: These multimedia laptops have a bit of leather trim here, a backlit keyboard there, and a whole lot of plugs, ports, and features crammed in.
Though I haven't had any quality one-on-one time with the sweet-sounding Studio XPS 13 (more on that model in a sec), a reviewable version of the Studio XPS 16 found its way into our labs. Take a minute to read my full hands-on report on the Studio XPS 16, and then come back to read about what's different in the 13.
Moving Into a Smaller Studio
Here's the deal: If you really want to impress folks at the local café, check out the Studio XPS 13. Starting at approximately $1250, this model has a lot in common with its bigger sibling (down to the leather trim and some of the port offerings). Just about the only thing you lose--on the surface, at least--while you slim down to a colorful 13.3-inch screen is an extra USB port.
Its optional WLED HD display sounds nice. (Haven't seen it myself yet, but a colleague reports that it's striking compared with a regular display, thanks to backlighting.) And if you want to view video in full 1080p, this laptop upconverts video when it outputs the signal to an external monitor using HDMI or DisplayPort.
The really notable difference that I'm anxious to test first-hand is the laptop's implementation of the nVidia GeForce MCP79MX chip set. I'm talking proper hybrid SLI and two graphics processors inside a single, slim machine: On the motherboard you have a 9400m, as you'll find in the Apple MacBook Pro, and in addition Dell tosses in a discrete GeForce 9500M-GE, a 256MB GPU that reports for duty during, say, a heated game of Call of Duty: World at War but shuts off when it isn't needed. That's a stark contrast from Apple machines, where you must log out to choose between chips, and from other Windows-based laptops I've seen, where you need to flick a physical toggle to accomplish the same thing. As soon as I can lay hands on a Studio XPS 13, you can be sure I'll report back with the results.
For more product news, check out our complete coverage of CES 2009.