Dell Studio One 19 review

Dell’s large-format all-in-ones are hugely popular at PC Pro, so we were excited by the arrival of the Studio One 19. It may lack the 24in full-HD display of the XPS One 24, but this smaller all-in-one has a gimmick to compensate: a 19in capacitive touchscreen with specially designed interface to match.

It’s an inclusion that dominates proceedings right from startup, with larger font sizes and even a taskbar set up specifically to make finger-prodding easier. Files in Explorer windows come with tick boxes to let you select multiple items to interact with, and Vista’s handwriting app sits permanently ready at the side of the screen.

The main touch interface is even more prominent. A row of quick-launch touch buttons sweeps across the bottom of the desktop at all times, and it’s easily navigated by flicking it left and right, iPhone-style. As well as the expected media and settings menus and an Internet Explorer button, there’s a nice touch-optimised paint tool with a child-friendly approach, plus a few attempts to use the touch interface in more entertaining ways.

A Guitar Hero-style rhythm game has you tapping on-screen speakers as notes cascade past, while a full touch-operated drum kit is fun for all of two minutes before the short time delay between your touch and the drums’ response becomes annoying enough to end that adventure. Both are nice ideas, but they’re little more than that.

As for the screen itself, it generally works well. Light touches are occasionally missed and quick flicks can go unnoticed, but after a few minutes getting used to its quirks you’ll be interacting with ease. Whether you’ll want to is a different question, though, as we still found ourselves quickly reverting to the old-school mouse and keyboard for pretty much every task that didn’t involve a specially designed touch interface.

Touchscreen aside, though, the display is great for entertainment. The 1,366 x 768 resolution is enough for 720p video and the panel offers tremendously vivid colours and plenty of sharp detail. It is highly reflective, though, which is worth bearing in mind if you plan to put it in a brightly-lit room. You’ll also have to keep a cloth to hand to regularly wipe away the inevitable build-up of fingerprints.

It’s all housed in a body that can hardly be called elegant. The main issue is its Jekyll and Hyde design. A curved Apple-white rear gives way to a black two-piece front with a wide glass bezel flanked by an unsightly ‘Charcoal Fabric’ layer covering the speakers. Dell sees it as a stylistic selling point and some may agree; we’d sooner see bare speaker innards. And it all sits on a silver stand that matches neither the black nor white of the body.

It’s a shame because there’s a very impressive specification inside the Studio One 19. It comes in four flavours, from £510 exc VAT right up to £956 exc VAT. Dell sent us the second dearest of the four, which retails at £764 exc VAT, and it’s a powerful system. A 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 3GB of DDR2 memory combined to produce a benchmark score of 1.43, so it won’t struggle if used as a main PC.

There’s a 500GB hard disk for all your music and video storage needs, and the range of connections should be enough for most needs. Six USB ports are split between the rear and the left edge, along with Fast Ethernet and 802.11bg WLAN. Surprisingly, though, there’s no draft-n.

All but the dearest model come with a simple slot-loading DVD writer in the side, with a glowing touch-sensitive eject button beneath the screen. Although the screen can’t display full-HD, the £956 premium model does come with a Blu-ray drive; that upgrade and an extra gigabyte of RAM hardly seem worth the hefty premium, though.

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