Returning to blogging…

… with a review.

Apart from an incorrectly attached F8 key, my new laptop – a Dell Studio 15 – arrived in pristine condition, no emergency calls to Dell customer “service” required. This is obviously good. Also good is the improvement over my four-year-old laptop It’s nice to have shiny new toys, but functionality is more important. The previous laptop could probably be made better with a clean restore of the operating system. Breaking out a credit card is easier.

A detailed review would probably be boring, and my blogging muscles are slightly flabby. So, a list ignoring the obvious advantages of a faster computer with more memory.


  • Sleek design – very cool
  • No modem, leaving room for useful features
  • Vibrant glossy screen without an excessive mirror effect.
  • Fingerprint reader – Is it reasonable for a libertarian to love swiping a fingerprint as much as I do? It works, so no typing necessary.
  • HDMI port – Connecting the Blu-ray player to my television involved plugging the cable in and nothing more.
  • Backlit keyboard – When I remembered to turn this on while typing in the dark for the first time, I wanted to write poetry – Ode to the Backlit Keyboard.
  • Dell Dock – This is basically Dell’s effort to make Windows Vista into Mac OS X. I like it, although this criticism has merit.


  • Sleek design – in every aspect beyond the backlit keyboard, Dell chose form over function to the detriment of the computing experience. It’s nice marketing to chase Apple, but they should’ve thought about their copying.
  • The power cord protrudes from the right side, interfering with using a mouse. Apple’s power cord offers little interference and it’s on the left side.
  • The 9-cell battery extends down, raising the laptop and making it awkward in a backpack, rather than extending out of the back. Stupid.
  • The screen hinge attaching to the side rather than the top. Cool effect, distracting shift of the screen down. And it limits the range of motion for the screen to angle back. This can be bothersome if the laptop is on a surface significantly lower than my eyes.
  • The keyboard layout is awful. Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down should be in a horizontal cluster, not a vertical row. And why is the right Ctrl key not next to the arrows? Who uses the keyboard to bring up the right-click menu, anyway?
  • Dell Media Direct – This is garbage. It constantly determines that a Blu-ray update is missing and then finds nothing to update. And using it when the computer is off caused my computer to freeze. As soon as I find reliable Blu-ray software, I’m uninstalling Media Direct.
  • Water Stain – the palm rest has a design that looks like a water stain. I tried to wipe it off when I opened the box. It’s inconsequential but it’s a poor aesthetic.

For my personal configuration, the only real mistake seems to be the screen resolution. I opted for the basic 1280×800. It’s nice, but everything on the screen feels too big. It’s a significant improvement over my old laptop’s 1920×1200, but 1440×900 is probably the sweet spot on a 15.4″ screen.

From this, it might appear that I’m arguing against the Studio more than I am. I probably should be. Instead, and it’s probably just rationalizing that I have this for the next few years, I place most of my quibbles into just a need to adapt. Maybe I just need to break my habits of the last four years.