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Dell s1440-022B review: Dell s1440-022B

Dell s1440-022B

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
7 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our Back-to-school 2009 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.


Dell s1440-022B

The Good

Compact, lightweight design; great battery life; full version of Microsoft Office and 15 months of Norton Internet Security; wonderfully roomy keyboard; GeForce graphics provide some 3D power; shockingly decent audio output from integrated speakers; useful selection of ports.

The Bad

No optical drive.

The Bottom Line

If you can forgo a DVD burner on your laptop, the Dell Studio S1440-022B offers a ton of features and a slick design that should make it a frontrunner for any student doing their back-to-school shopping.

The $749 Dell Studio S1440-022B is trim, forward-looking mainstream laptop. Rarely does a 14-inch laptop limbo under the 5-pound mark, but the Studio S1440 checks in at an impressive 4.7 pounds. It's able to hit this number in large part by jettisoning the optical drive, a bold move not seen on the majority of mainstream laptops, despite the growing popularity of accessing your media from the Web instead of from a DVD or a CD. Other forward-looking features include a DisplayPort connection, an HDMI port, and a 16:9 aspect ratio display.

Inside, Dell outfits the Studio S1440-022B with a well-rounded set of components, including a midrange Core 2 Duo processor, low-end Nvidia GeForce graphics, and an eight-cell battery that manages to sit flush with the system. Thanks to Best Buy's Next Class program, it comes not with software trials, but full versions of useful applications. If you can get past the lack of a DVD burner, there's much to like about this thin, light, long-running laptop. Though for only $50 more, the slightly heavier and somewhat boxy Toshiba Satellite E105-S1602 offers a DVD burner plus more memory and larger hard drive.

Price $749
Processor 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500
Memory 3GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz
Hard drive 320GB at 5,400rpm
Chipset Nvidia MCP79
Graphics 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WDH) 13.3x9.0x1.2 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 4.7 / 5.4 pounds
Category Mainstream

The Dell Studio S1440 is part of Best Buy's Next Class program, which is a collection of custom-made configurations for the retailer, based on feedback from students on their preferred features. (Best Buy has a similar thrust with its Blue Label program, which surveys general consumers, not just students.)

Not surprisingly, students wanted something that fit meager budgets, included useful software out of the box, struck a balance between portability and decent screen size, and delivered great battery life. The Studio S1440 hits on all of these marks. It weighs less than 5 pounds and includes a wide 14-inch screen. It includes a full copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 and 15 months of virus protection by way of Norton Internet Security 2009. And its eight-cell battery topped the four-hour mark on our demanding battery drain test.

The current fashion in laptops is putting a glossy, fingerprint-attracting finish on all surfaces inside and out. Dell bucks this trend by outfitting the Studio S1440 with a satin finish on the lid (in this case, red), and the plastic chassis has a brushed aluminum look. The only glossy surfaces to be found are the thin, black bezel framing the display and the area between the top of the keyboard and bottom of the screen. Oddly, despite its entertainment appeal with the 16:9 aspect ratio display, the Studio S1440 does not offer any media control keys. Instead, the F keys perform volume, mute, play/pause, fast forward, and rewind functions. In a smart reversal, you don't need to hit the Function key to perform these various tasks; instead, you hit the Function key to perform the functions mapped to F1, F2, and so on (we also saw this on the recent HP Mini 5101 Netbook).

The roomy keyboard runs edge to edge, and the wrist rest is only 2.5 inches wide. (Most wrist rests on laptops of this size measure at least 3 inches wide.) It still provides a large enough perch for a comfortable computing experience. The touch pad also leaves no unused space; its top edge is right up next to the space bar while the two mouse buttons are very close to the front edge of the laptop. The keys are wide and offer just the right amount of travel. They're also very quiet--about as far from clacky as you can get. Likewise, the two mouse buttons have a soft, supple feel, though they offer a bit too much travel to the point where they feel a bit "squishy." One final note about the keyboard: Dell offers a backlit keyboard option on comparable 14-inch models on its Web site, but this retail unit does not.

The display measures 14.1 inches and features an extra-wide 16:9 aspect ratio that matches that of movies and HD video. With 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, the Studio S1440 can display 720p video. It feels a bit squat, however, when scrolling down long Web pages or Word documents. The screen features a glossy coating, which strikes a fine balance between enhancing the appearance of movies and games and keeping glare and reflections to a minimum. More impressive is the audio output. We don't expect greatness from small, integrated laptop speakers, but the Studio S1440's speakers offered booming sound, relatively speaking. Output at max volume was loud enough and still clear to enjoy a movie without needing headphones.

  Dell Studio S1440-022B Average for category [mainstream]
Video HDMI, DisplayPort VGA-out, HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, two headphone jacks, microphone jack Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, Mini-FireWire, eSATA, mulitformat memory card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/34 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive None DVD burner

The Dell Studio S1440-022B offers a wide-ranging collection of ports and connections, perhaps in an effort to make up for the lack of an optical drive. HDMI is becoming more common on laptops, but those offering a DisplayPort connection are still in the minority. The S1440 also offers not one but two headphone jacks, should you want to share tunes or movie dialog with a travel companion. FireWire is slowly fading from popularity, but a four-pin FireWire port shows up here, along with an eSATA port (which doubles as the third USB 2.0 port) for faster data transfer times to an external drives, and a Webcam.

The Dell Studio S1440 features the 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo T6500 processor, which can be found on other laptops on store shelves, including Dell's own Studio XPS 1340-024B along with HP's Pavilion dv3-2155mx and Pavilion dv4-1465dx. It offers 3GB of DDR3 SDRAM, while its competitors in this price range serve up 4GB of DDR2. The result is a wash, as the Studio S1440 finished among the pack on CNET Labs' application benchmarks. Lastly, the S1440 serves up a 320GB hard drive, while others in this price range trump that capacity with a 500GB drive.

The Studio S1440 features a low-end 256MB GeForce 9400M graphics card, which won't take on all comers but is capable of providing some modest 3D entertainment. We were able to hit a consistent 50-to-60 frames per second at its native resolution playing World of Warcraft.

Juice box
Dell Studio S1440 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.65
Sleep (10 percent) 0.72
Idle (25 percent) 11.98
Load (5 percent) 41.93
Raw kWh 48.65
Annual energy cost $5.52

Annual power consumption cost

On CNET's demanding battery drain test, the Dell Studio S1440 ran for an impressive 4 hours, 26 minutes, thanks to its eight-cell battery. You can expect more than five hours of running time under typical use. The HP Pavilion dv4-1465dx ran for a little over an hour longer on our battery drain test, but it uses a huge, heavy 12-cell battery that protrudes from the bottom of the laptop. The Studio S1440 is more than a pound lighter than the Pavilion dv4-1465dx, and its battery sits flush.

Dell backs the Studio S1440-022B with a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty. Calls to tech support are toll-free and available 24-7. Dell's support pages contain an extensive knowledge base, user manuals, and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:
Asus UX50V-RX05
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo U3500; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce G105M; 500GB Seagate 7200rpm.

Dell Studio S1440-022B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 3,072MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M G; 320GB Toshiba 5,400rpm.

Dell Studio XPS 1340-024B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M G; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm.

HP Pavilion dv4-1465dx
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Toshiba 5400rpm.

HP Pavilion dv3-2155mx
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm.

HP TouchSmart tx2-1275dx
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.19GHz AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core RM-74; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 320MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200; 320GB Seagate 5,400rpm.

Sony Vaio NW125 J/T
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Hitachi 5400rpm.

Toshiba Satellite E105-S1602
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7350; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 500GB Toshiba 5,400rpm.


Dell s1440-022B

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7Battery 8Support 7