CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Dell Studio One 19 review: Dell Studio One 19

The 18.5-inch Studio One 19 brings some good ideas to the all-in-one-PC table, including an optional touchscreen. We're not massive fans of its appearance, but, if you're looking for a desktop PC that takes up relatively little space, is easy to set up and reduces cable clutter, it's well worth a look

Rory Reid
5 min read

Tired of cables? Sick of a boxy, old PC cluttering up your desktop? Then it might be time to invest in an all-in-one PC. Dell's latest all-in-one offering, the Studio One 19, takes up relatively little space, is easy to set up and has an optional touch-sensitive screen. Our review sample bears the full product code 'D00SO03' and is available now for about £800. The cheapest base configuration starts at about £600 and the most expensive costs around £1,000.


Dell Studio One 19

The Good

Offers decent performance; easy to set up.

The Bad

Touchscreen isn't very responsive.

The Bottom Line

Apple's iMac won't be toppled off the all-in-one-PC throne by the Dell Studio One 19. The One 19 introduces some good ideas, but the touchscreen interface doesn't work as well as the company may have hoped

Ugly duckling
The One 19 is an odd-looking machine. It sports two bezels: the first is made of a Perspex-type material and the second is wider, sits directly behind the first, and is made of cloth. Yes, you read that correctly -- it's made of cloth. It's not just any ordinary cloth either. It's the type of material with which car manufacturers used to line the seats of cheap cars during the early '80s -- the type with the sort of fine honeycomb pattern that makes your eyes go funny if you look at it for too long. We hate it. It's available in a variety of colours, but we're pretty sure we'd hate it regardless of the hue.

The rotating pad on the keyboard lets you adjust the system's volume

Oddly, the rear of the One 19 is quite pleasing to look at, proving Dell's got its priorities wrong. Its curved, ivory-white casing has an Apple-esque vibe, but only makes it more obvious how unattractive the rest of the machine is. Round the back, it sports four USB ports, an Ethernet socket and a line-out audio jack, while, at the side, the One 19 rocks a memory card reader, two additional USB ports, mic and headphone jacks and a power button.

The One 19 package is rounded off with a wireless mouse and keyboard. The former is a contender for the worst mouse ever seen in the UK, including the real-life rodents that brought us the Black Death. The top layer of the mouse is secured to the bottom section via a pair of very weak magnets, and can become disconnected relatively easily. Knock it off the desk (yeah, we're pretty clumsy) and it'll smash into several pieces -- the top, bottom and batteries flying everywhere. It's fairly easy to put back together, but we spent more time on our knees picking up the pieces than we ought to have done.

To the left, just behind the gaudy cloth bezel, are a memory-card reader, two USB ports, headphone and mic jacks, and the power button

Luckily, the keyboard is much better. It boasts dedicated shortcut buttons that allow the user to launch common applications such as a Web browser, calculator, the 'my computer' window and an email client. A further set of shortcut buttons allows the user to launch Windows Media Player, and skip forwards or backwards through audio tracks, while a dedicated wheel control lets you adjust the system's volume.

Touchy subject
We almost dismissed the One 19 as a gimmick out of hand, since most touch-sensitive PCs don't work very well. But it's obvious Dell has done its utmost to circumvent the fact Windows Vista wasn't really designed for touch input. The One 19's 18.5-inch display is, for a start, multi-touch-compatible, meaning the machine is receptive to a wider variety of finger commands than your average prod-along PC.

Use a pinching or stretching gesture, for example, and it's possible to zoom in and out of the desktop, making icons appear almost as large as you wish. This makes pointing and selecting far easier than on most touch-based machines. Dell also provides the 'Touch Zone' software, an Apple Cover Flow-style application that launches commonly used applications. The fact that you can't add new applications or modify old ones, however, means its long-term usefulness is limited.

In theory, multi-touch capability should be enough to make the One 19 a real winner, but that's not the case. The accuracy and responsiveness of the screen is shockingly poor. Touch it and there's a noticeable delay before it registers your input. Attempt to paint two lines of colour at once in an art application and the One 19 thinks you're trying to resize or rotate something. Two-fingered rotating is also frustrating, as images tend to convulse randomly rather than rotate smoothly. Anyone expecting a user experience akin to that provided by the iPhone is going to be bitterly disappointed.

Hardware heaven
Those who use the One 19 as a normal computer shouldn't be disappointed with its underlying hardware. A variety of configurations are available, including two basic models that lack touchscreen functionality. Our D00SO03 review sample packed a touch-sensitive display, as well as a very nippy Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 CPU clocked at 2.93GHz, and an ample 3GB of RAM.

At the rear are four more USB ports, an Ethernet socket and a line-out audio jack

The One 19's graphics capability isn't quite as impressive, though. The One 19 uses an Nvidia GeForce 9400 graphics card that's capable of running the odd game, but only moderately slowly and at quite low resolutions. Storage is rather mediocre, too. The 500GB hard drive in even the top-end machine should be fine for most users, but those who make a habit of hoarding large multimedia file collections may find space running low sooner rather than later. That said, users have the option of making backups to a USB storage device connected to one of the One 19's USB ports, or creating back-up discs via its slot-loading DVD rewriter drive.

We recommend, however, that you steer clear of any version of the One 19 with a Blu-ray combo drive. Not only does it add significantly to the overall price, but the fact that the machine lacks a video output port means you can't output the machine's video signal to an external display. There's no point trying to enjoy Blu-ray material on the One 19's screen, either -- its 1,366x768-pixel resolution doesn't even come close to making the most of the high-definition video format.

Palatable performance
The One 19 is among the fastest all-in-one machines we've tested. It refused to run our PCMark05 and 3DMark06 benchmark tests, but, during day-to-day testing, the 2.93GHz CPU in our review sample was as nippy as we wanted it to be. The machine didn't bat an eyelid when asked to carry out everyday activities such as photo or video editing, and will even turn its hand to a spot of light gaming, although the latest 3D games are only just playable thanks to their juddering frame rates. Check the minimum requirements of your chosen title to be sure of compatibility.

The Dell Studio One 19 won't topple the Apple iMac off its throne. We're not so keen on its looks, its 3D performance is fairly average, and its touch capabilities are mediocre at best. But it fulfils its role as an all-in-one PC relatively well and will suit anyone who wants a desktop machine that's easy to set up and occupies relatively little space.

Edited by Charles Kloet