Dell Studio 1558 review

The decent battery life, dual-band wireless adaptor and high-quality screen make this a great laptop, but there are better deals out there.

8 May 2010
Dell Studio 1558
Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
763
inc VAT

Specifications

15.6 in 1,920x1,080 display, 2.6kg, 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-520M, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Dell's Studio 1558 is a sturdy and attractive laptop with a 15.6in widescreen display. We were very taken by the rubber-textured metallic aubergine finish on the lid. Inside, it is more restrained, with a black bezel around the screen and a silver wrist rest.

Unlike most of the 15.6in laptops we've seen recently, the Studio 1558 lacks a numeric keypad. This isn't likely to be a big problem for most people and means that there's more space for the keyboard. We found that the standard laptop keyboard was comfortable to use. With no unusual layouts or large gaps between the keys, we didn’t have to adapt our typing style to accommodate it.

The touchpad is sufficiently well positioned to prevent us from brushing it by accident while typing although we occasionally pinched-to-zoom by accident while moving the mouse cursor. The keyboard itself has a backlight, which makes it easy to use under low light levels.

We found that the wrist rest gets rather warm, which can become uncomfortable if you type with your wrists flat against the laptop for an extended period. The base of the laptop also gets warmer than most, particularly on the left-hand side. In general, the Studio 1558 is warmer to touch than most of the Core i5 laptops we've reviewed, although not to the point of being unusable.

Dell has left little room for improvement here. The 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-430M processor and 4GB of RAM (all of which is usable thanks to the 64-bit version of Windows) worked to produce an Overall score of 87 in our benchmark tests, showing that this laptop will cope with anything you throw at it.

Graphics are provided by a 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics processor, which managed a more-or-less playable 21.1fps in CoD4 at 1,280x720. At the 15.6in display's native 1,920x1,080 resolution with AA disabled we got a framerate of 18fps. This is good news for 3D gamers, as most games should be playable if you can live with a few compromises to your graphical quality.

Another advantage of the Studio 1558's HD graphics processor and native 1080p display is that you'll be able to play High Definition video files. The display itself looks stunning - evenly lit with accurate colour even on plain white screens.You can also connect the laptop to a TV via its HDMI port. It only has a standard DVD-RW drive, though, so you won't be able to play Blu-ray discs.

The 1558 has three USB ports and a Firewire port, but no eSATA connection. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it has a dual-band wireless adaptor built into it, with support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n networking, making it one of the first laptops we've seen that can connect to the latest dual-band routers. It also has a built-in Bluetooth adaptor.

Three 3.5mm stereo ports which can be configured for 5.1 analogue surround sound speakers. The built-in speaker produces reasonably well balanced but somewhat fuzzy sound. The integrated memory card reader supports SDHC, MMC and Memory Stick PRO formats and a 320GB hard disk provides a reasonable amount of storage. We were pleased with the Studio's three hour, 33 minute battery life, too.

However, despite the benefits of Bluetooth, dual-band wireless and a good battery life, the £763 Studio 1558 looks much less tempting when compared to Sony's cheaper Vaio EB1Z0E, which has a similar specification with the addition of a Blu-ray drive. It's the better choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Intel Core i5-520M
Processor clock speed 2.26GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 8GB
Size 41x370x241mm
Weight 2.6kg
Sound IDT HD Audio
Pointing device touchpad

Display

Viewable size 15.6 in
Native resolution 1,920x1,080
Graphics Processor ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570
Graphics/video ports VGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory 512MB

Storage

Total storage capacity 320GB
Optical drive model PLDS DL-8ATS
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 3
Total Firewire ports 1
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support dual-band 802.11n
PC Card slots none
Modem No
Supported memory cards SD, SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick PRO
Other ports none

Miscellaneous

Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option backup and recovery software
Software included Microsoft Works 9
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year collect and return
Price £763
Details www.dell.co.uk
Supplier http://www.dell.co.uk

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