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Dell Studio S1535-143B review: Dell Studio S1535-143B

Dell Studio S1535-143B

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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4 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.

7.8

Dell Studio S1535-143B

The Good

Better battery life than its predecessor, thanks to extended-cell battery; 4GB of RAM and big 320GB hard drive; HDMI output, touch-sensitive media controls.

The Bad

Big, unwieldy battery adds bulk and weight; slightly clacky keyboard.

The Bottom Line

The Dell Studio S1535-143B strikes a fine balance between Dell's XPS and Inspiron lines, offering good looks and decent performance for less than $1,000, even if the previous model had a slightly better processor.

Dell's Studio line of laptops is an attractive middle ground between the inexpensive Inspiron line and the high-end XPS line, incorporating some of the design cues of the XPS systems (such as their tapered bodies) with a mainstream set of components that won't break the bank.

We were very fond of the previous incarnation of this retail-only configuration, dubbed the S1535-125B. The updated version, the $849 S1535-143B, knocks the CPU back a bit, from a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 to a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T5800. The difference in real-world performance is negligible, but since the older version is still available for a slightly discounted $799, it might be worth a look. One difference to keep in mind--the newer S1535-143B has a bigger battery, which adds about 80 minutes of battery life but is positively huge, adding bulk and heft to the system.

Price as reviewed $849
Processor 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800
Memory 4GB, 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 320GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM965 Express
Graphics Intel GMA X3100 (integrated)
Operating system Windows Vista Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WxH) 14x10.8 inches
Dimensions (thickness) 1.0 to 2.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.6/7.5 pounds
Category Mainstream

The design of this retail-only fixed configuration laptop is identical to both the previous S1535-123B version as well as the customizable direct-from-Dell Studio 15, (although this version has a darker midnight blue lid). While clearly inspired by the popular XPS M1530, the Studio 15 has a more angular look, with its large side hinges curving the screen down at a sharp angle; the XPS presents a more rounded look.

The Studio 15 follows Dell's recent, and welcome, trend of outfitting nearly all of its laptops with HDMI outputs and touch-sensitive control buttons--you can also get those on even the cheapest Inspiron 15-inch model. Like most Dell laptops, the keyboard's keys are slightly tapered, giving you less surface area to use than flat keys, but we found it comfortable and easy to use, if a bit clacky.

Unlike the customizable direct-from-Dell Studio 15 we looked at, this less-expensive version has a 1,200x800-pixel native resolution, rather than the 1,440x900-pixel resolution usually found in higher-end 15-inch laptops, and we miss the extra screen real estate the higher resolution affords.

  Dell Studio S1535-143B Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/ 2x microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive Slot-loading DVD burner DVD burner

While it's marginally slower than the T8100 CPU in the last retail model Dell Studio laptop we looked at, the S1535-143B's Core 2 Duo T5800 processor was a capable performer and aided by 4GB of RAM--double what the previous Studio featured. In testing, the Studio 1535 closely followed the top performer in the mainstream category of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, the Asus X83VB-X1. Also helping the Studio 1535 and the Asus in the labs is its use of the 64-bit version of Windows, which lets the systems go beyond the 3GB memory limit of a 32-bit operating system. As seems to be the case in these roundups, the two AMD-powered systems (the Toshiba Satellite U405D-S2874 and the HP Pavilion dv4-1155se) trailed far behind on CNET Labs' application benchmarks.

The Studio 1535 ran for 4 hours and 22 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, thanks to an extended battery, which, while good for long work sessions, makes the system harder to carry or even fit into a laptop bag. The previous S1535-125B had a standard six-cell battery, and ran for about 80 minutes less on the same test.

Dell includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, and an extensive online knowledge base and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio S1525-143B
993 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio S1525-143B
168 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio S1525-143B
214 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio S1525-143B
262 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Dell Studio 1525-143B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.

Asus X83VB-X1
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm.

Toshiba Satellite U405D-S2874
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core RM-72; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon 3100; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm.

HP Pavilion dv4-1155se
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.19GHz AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core ZM-82; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon HD3200; 320GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Gateway MC7801u
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm.

7.8

Dell Studio S1535-143B

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 9Battery 7Support 6
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