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Dell expands Studio line with new desktops

Dell introduces the Studio Desktop and Studio Slim Desktop.

Update: Well, we have a price for our review configuration: $1,208. What we don't have is an idea of when you can actually buy one. It seems that the Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor in our test system isn't actually for sale yet. Dell says it's trying to find out when that chip will become available. In the meantime, we'd hold off on buying a Studio Desktop, because its specs are apparently due for an update.

Dell's Studio Hybrid kicked off the company's new Studio product line this past April. Now we get two more traditional PCs, the Studio Desktop and the Studio Slim Desktop. Essentially these are updated Inspiron 530 and Inspiron 531s models, with a new black face plate and more current specs.

The most significant features update for both the new Studio PCs is the move to 64-bit Windows Vista. Dell was the lone 32-bit-only hold-out among the major Windows PC vendors. The benefit of such a move is that PCs with 64-bit operating systems can use more memory than 32-bit systems, resulting in better performance. Dell will also offer options for Blu-ray drives, quad-core CPUs, and up to 8GB of RAM on both systems.

Dell's new Studio Desktop: Now with 64-bit Windows Vista. CNET

We've actually tested a Studio Desktop already, and as soon as Dell tells us what our review unit costs (or after the configuration goes live at 9 a.m. ET today and we figure it out ourselves) we'll post our review. Assuming it's in the $800 to $1,000 range, it's a relatively good deal overall, but with a few less-than-elegant elements, like a comically oversized wireless antenna, and a decidedly OS X-like icon interface on the Windows desktop screen. Dell, we thought you were a PC.

Unless the price of the Studio Desktop comes in surprisingly low, we have a hunch the Gateway DX4200 will remain our favorite standard midrange desktop. We at least know that the starting price for the Studio Desktop is $549.

The new Dell Studio Slim Desktop Dell

The Studio Slim Desktop hasn't made it to our Labs yet, but based on specs and the brief hands-on we had with a prototype earlier this summer, it's easy enough to consider this an updated version of the Inspiron 530s and a direct competitor to HP's Slimline PCs, represented most recently by the Pavilion Slimline s5300f.

Starting price on this one is also $549, and it includes an integrated HDMI port--a first for Dell systems with this chassis. That and its size make it more living-room-friendly than the Studio Desktop (which also has an HDMI port), although expansion options are limited to half-height expansion cards because of its smaller size.

Our hope is that Dell has taken a bit more care to limit the number of dongles hanging from the Studio Slim Desktop. The larger model has the clunky wireless antenna as well as a separate IR receiver attachment. Dell is far from the only dongle-happy vendor, but the Apple model, wherein all receivers are integrated into the system itself, is much classier.