Dell Studio 1535

Most laptops looks the same, feel the same – and short of the brand awareness – are the same. And then there’s this laptop.

In case you’re not aware, the market is saturated with laptops. I’m looking for one myself at the moment and I am now feeling the frustration that many users get when they see the ridiculous amount of product out there with little understanding of what makes them difference.

And irritatingly, most laptops have no real way of differentiating themselves from everything else on the market. “How hard is it to make a laptop?” you might ask, and I’d respond with “by way of looking at a lot of the models out there, not very.” Very few design elements change and computer configurations seem to be given little treatment.

Interestingly, Dell have found a way to make the Studio more interesting than some of its other laptops. In a way, I’m finding parts of this model very much follow similar build ideas to say that of an Apple MacBook & MacBook Pro.

Design elements like a slot-load drive on a Windows-based machine and the inclusion of a press-to-see battery metre certainly make the Dell Studio unique against the smattering of other laptops found out there.

So does the humped battery giving the Studio a little height on its notebook siblings, but I’m not sure if this one works to Dell’s advantage. On the one hand, if you put the Dell Studio 1535 down on a desk, the raised keyboard looks like it’s more ergonomic and easier to use, two things which no doubt result in a computer that is better for your health.

But try sticking the computer in a slipcase or a backpack. I use the Logitech Kinetik 15.4 backpack personally – something that we’ve nicknamed “The Turtle” due to its shell-like appearance – and the padded section for the notebook computer fits the laptop, but only barely. If you’ve got a backpack with limited space, this might be a problem. If you’ve got a regular laptop bag, you’ll be grateful to know that the battery bump actually provides a grip for which you can pull the laptop in and out of the bag with ease.

So we thus see that the Studio is designed already for a specific sort of user. The person who uses the Dell Studio laptop is looking for a high quality laptop with some unique features to it that they can accommodate in their lives. Perhaps in another life they might have chosen a Mac, but here they’ve found the Studio suits their needs better.

It’s even set up well for those of us who have a lot of things to plug in. The entire left side is ready to let you plug in and play with anything you’ve got. Starting from where the screen is and going down to the front of the wristpad, you’ll find a Kensington lock, a WiFi switch which turns on and off the 802.11n chipset inside of it, an HDMI out & a VGA connector for all of your external display needs, two USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, one microphone jack, two headphone jacks, a card slot capable of looking at the SD/MMC and Sony Memory Stick formats, and a 54mm Express Card slot. Like whoa, that’s decent design. On the right side, you’ll find your power connectivity, a slot-load DVD burner capable of 8x writing (and upgradeable to a Blu-ray drive), two more USB ports, and even a Firewire connector. Plug-wise, the Dell Studio 1535 is decked out.

For what it’s worth, the keyboard on the Studio has an excellent touch to it even though it feels plasticy. It’s easy to type on and though I’d have preferred something with a bit more sturdiness to it, I do enjoy typing on this keyboard as much as I have other great keyboards such as on a MacBook Pro and the Lenovo X300.

The mouse too isn’t bad as the touchpad feels like it’s coated in that Teflon-ish coating that I’ve been feeling on Toshiba’s laptops of late. As a result, you get a much more controlled precision that a touchpad normally won’t let you have. And for once, the biometric fingerprint sensor isn’t stuck in the middle of the mouse, an irritating place to stick one if I do say so myself and a problem which Dell have fixed by putting it just to the right of where your right palm would be.

Even the plastic that makes up the wrist rest is comfortable to type on. Normally, I find myself lacking the space to type comfortably, but this is just great as I type his review on the rain as I head into work. It really is a comfortable laptop.

A comfortable laptop that has a decent amount of performance. While it won’t be giving my desktop a run for its money anytime soon, it’s still loaded with an Intel Core2 Duo clocked at 2.6Ghz, 2 gig of memory, and an ATI Radeon 3450 which while not being a brilliant video chipset is still capable enough for some gaming. Interestingly, to get the screen I’m using which is capable of a resolution of 1440 x 900, higher than that of the original screen’s 1280 x 800, you’ll have to fork out a little less than $150 more. Based on the sort of screen clarity I’m seeing here, I’d say that’s a purchase I’d probably want to make.

While its performance doesn’t make it that of the thing of Dell’s XPS series, it still is an excellent laptop that looks the part of what a professional or a full-time student would want to use. While I personally think that the designed motif found on the wrist pad looks more like someone has scratched he wrist pad with a sharp key, the combination of touch panel buttons, a slick black and grey look, a decent amount of power, and easy to find ports make this an excellent buy for someone who’s looking for a Windows-based laptop that actually wants to be used.

Product: Dell Studio 1535

Vendor: Dell

RRP: Starting from $1399

Website: Dell

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark