capsule review

Dell Studio One 19 All-in-One Desktop PC

At a Glance
  • Dell Studio One 19

    PCWorld Rating

    Better than a budget all-in-one, but not quite high-end either, this is a good option if your needs are somewhere in between.

You'll either love or hate the Dell Studio One 19. It's by far the fastest 19-inch or smaller all-in-one PC we've tested; and like the HP TouchSmart IQ816 and TouchSmart IQ500T PCs, it boasts a dual-touch display. But its screen wasn't as responsive to gestures as we had hoped, and its design...well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I could do without the fabric trim around the display (no matter which of the colors--white, navy blue, gray, pink, or red--you choose). But maybe you, or your family, will feel differently. If you're after a more-refined look from Dell, take a look at its 20- and 24-inch XPS One all-in-one PCs.

As mentioned, the Studio One configuration we tested ($944, as of 7/2/09) performed impressively, claiming a mark of 93 in our WorldBench 6 testing suite. Its 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200 processor, 4GB of DDR-2800 memory, and integrated nVidia GeForce 9400 graphics got it close enough to the score of the 24-inch Sony VAIO VGC-LV180J (a mark of 96) for us to call the two even. Only Apple's recent 20-inch iMac and 24-inch iMac fared better, with results of 101 and 111, respectively.

The Studio One 19's trade-offs are weak graphics performance and stingy storage. The single 320GB drive is double that of cheaper all-in-ones and equal to the capacity of the 20-inch iMac, but far below average for the big leagues that this all-in-one is trying to play in. Meanwhile, its native resolution of 1366 by 768 limited it to our 1024 by 768 gaming tests, and even at that most basic of resolutions, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Unreal Tournament 3 both fluttered just under a barely playable 30 frames per second.

Overall the display is pleasing to the eye, as text is easy to read and graphics are generally saturated and strong in contrast. The same issue that affects HP's IQ500t affects the Studio One, however, in that you'll be catching a lot of your own reflection in dark scenes as a result of the extremely glossy surface. It's a mixed blessing, for the Studio One wouldn't look nearly as nice without it. As for the system's multitouch functions, response lagged. The mouse pointer on the Studio One takes a little longer to spring to the location of your finger than the pointer on the snappy IQ500t does. That lag doesn't ultimately impact your ability to use the display, but it can be a little frustrating at times.

Dell's TouchZone software seeks to offer an iPhone-like, scrollable program launcher, comparable to what you find on HP's TouchSmart line. However, you can't add programs or modify the applications the program displays, an oversight that limits its functionally a great deal.

You can't upgrade a single piece of the Studio One, which is a shame given the skimpy storage. Feel free to take out your upgrading aggressions by uninstalling the system's silly included software--unless you really enjoy adding "bang!" and "zoom!" overlays to the images the Studio One's 1.3-megapixel Webcam shoots. The Studio One's integrated DVD read/write drive is fine, but systems that cost just a bit more offer Blu-ray. It's time to take the plunge, Dell.

The connection options are woeful. You get six USB ports (split two and four across the system's side and rear), but that's the biggest bullet point on the list. A seven-in-one card reader sits on the side as well. But the 10/100-mbps ethernet port on the rear is just too slow. Similarly, the Studio One supports only 802.11b/g connectivity, not the faster 802.11n.

The system Dell sent us for testing came with a black, generic two-button mouse. The included keyboard is better; it combines a standard layout with ten different function buttons for launching applications and controlling media operations. It even has a little volume dial--and unlike Dell's typical keyboards, this incarnation keeps the dial flush with the keyboard's case.

The Studio One has the best combination of price and performance among touchscreen-capable devices; if you spend any less, you'll have a PC that performs like a netbook. Unfortunately, its anemic connections and lack of upgradability are a lethal combination. You'd be better off investing $200 extra in a Lenovo IdeaCentre A600.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Better than a budget all-in-one, but not quite high-end either, this is a good option if your needs are somewhere in between.

    Pros

    • Excellent performance
    • Eye-catching dual-touch display

    Cons

    • No 802.11n wireless
    • Slight lag in touchscreen response
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