My name is Keith Hobin, and I’m the managing editor here at theiLife. I originally joined theiLife back in June, but now I’m making my first post. I grew up in Montclair, NJ with Matt, Sidney, and a few of the other iLife writers. I graduated from Montclair High School this year and will be attending Drexel University as an Information Systems major. I prefer the Microsoft side of computers and plan on adding a little diversification into this blog. You will be hearing from me from time to time with new stories and information about the goings on of the blog. If you want to contact me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . For my full biography, check out the about page section.
In getting ready for my attendance of Drexel, I have recently purchased one of Dell newest Laptop, the Studio 15. The Studio line is intended to have a mix of features from the XPS and Inspiron line at prices starting around $650 and around $750 for a decent configuration. For my Studio 15, I paid $ 1,839.94 with a 4 year warranty, accidental damage protection, and lojack, before tax and shipping. A PDF of the invoice / configuration will be posted along with this (Here). Just the price difference of $460 alone, a MacBook Pro being $2,300, is a good reason to consider another brand. But let’s delve into the features of each computer.
NOTE: All Comparisons made will be between MY Dell Studio 15 and the 15″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro. However, I will note the optional features I selected for my dell and will note higher features that I opted not to get. When I discuss option prices, the price increase will be from the cheapest configuration available to the general public at the time of writing. To be fair, both of the base prices of the computers are with educational discounts and I received an extra discount for taking the 4 year warranty.
OK, this section is not to debate the quirks and features of Vista/XP and OS X. That is for its own post. This post is focusing on the hardware, but I will say this about the OS. Windows does open up more options for you as hardware goes; you have Dell, HP, Gateway, Lenovo, Acer, and even Apple, now that they run windows with boot camp. The major plus to this is that the more options you have, the more likely you are to get the computer that suits you. And who ever said that competition was a bad thing, it makes innovation happen.
Display and Keyboard:
Each of these computers has bright crisp displays, perfect for surfing the web around campus, writing a report or even a blog post! Both Computers have 1440×900 Resolution LED backlit displays; although I got mine as an option, and there is a $125 price increase (Resolution also goes from 1280×800.) There is also a 1920×1200 Full HD display, but it’s not LED backlit. Both of the Keyboards are also backlit, mine again being a $50 option. The only noticeable extra feature would be the ambient light sensors on the MBP, though I can live without them, I already think the LED display is bright enough on the lowest setting.
Both computers have 2.5 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Of course, like almost everything on my laptop, it was an option, with a price increase of $350 (The base processor is a Dual Core Pentium at 1.86 GHz, eww). The 2.5 GHz on the Studio is the top processor available, and the MBP has a 2.6 GHz available for an additional $250.
Each laptop can support up to 4 GB of RAM. The lowest available on the Studio is 1 GB, with the increase to 4 GB only $150 (about $50 a gig for 4 GB). The lowest available on the MBP is 2 GB with the increase to 4 GB only $200 (About $100 a gig for 4 GB)
Wireless Connectivity and Networking:
One of the best reasons to get a laptop in the first place is that you can have portable connectivity wherever you go. This is true especially for my Dell Studio 15, but I’ll get into that later. Both the Studio and the MBP have Ethernet 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) Standard. For my Studio, this was a surprise to me because Dell never made a mention of it and it wasn’t an option when I was buying the laptop. I didn’t find it out till I was doing research for this article.
On the wireless front, both the Studio and the MBP have a/b/g/draft n wireless internet. It was an upgrade option on the Studio for $25.
Also on my Studio, I have a built in wireless broadband connection card from Verizon. This $150 upgrade lets me connect to the internet where ever I have cell service. You can either tie it to a monthly data plan or pay by the day. Sprint and AT&T also offer built in wireless cards.
Bluetooth 2.0 is available on both computers, of course it is an option on the Studio and for $25 it is worth it to me, just so I can use things like wireless stereo headphones and remotes.
Both laptops have digital video outputs. The Studio has a HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) port and a VGA port for added convenience. The MBP has a DVI (Digital Video Interface) port. In order to connect a VGA monitor or projector, you have to have the included DVI to VGA adapter. I personally find it annoying that you have to remember to have this adapter, as the Digital video port still aren’t as common as they should be. Most monitors and projectors still only have VGA ports.
Both of these computers use a SATA hard drive interface. My Studio has a 320 GB hard drive, with the default in the Studio line being 160 GB, the upgrade costing $75. I should also note that dell only offers one hard drive with an accelerometer to protect your data in the event of you dropping your laptop, its capacity being 200 GB and the upgrade price from the 160 GB being $150. The MBP has a 250 GB and although there is no accelerometer in the hard drive itself, they are located around the computer and provide the same functionality.
Size, Weight and Outward Appearance:
Both of the computers are about the same size, the Studio is 14″x1″x10.3″ and the MBP is 14.1″x1″x10.6″. Although, I must say that my Studio is a little thicker because I got the 9 Cell battery and it acts kind of like a mini laptop stand (hey, at least it makes typing a little more comfy). The Studio’s starting weight is 6.11 Lbs, although this varies by configuration. I would have to say my Studio weighs about 7 Lbs, which is fine for me. The MBP weighs in at 5.4 Lbs. This is probably the most significant difference between the two computers, besides the OS and brand.
One of the great things about the Studio is that you can customize the outside. The Studio comes in 7 different colors, a pattern called “graphite grey” (it reminds me of a topographic map) with the choice of 4 different trim options and 3 different designs by the artist Mike Ming. The default color is “Jet Black” which is what I have. Any of the other 6 colors costs $25 and the designs by Mike Ming cost $75. No matter what design you choose, you have some of the “graphite grey” pattern on the inside of the laptop. The MBP on the other hand only comes in one color, anodized aluminum.
Other Features and Goodies:
Here is a quick list of some other features that the Studio has but the MBP does not:
- Biometric fingerprint reader
- eSATA port (The MBP only has Firewire 800 which transfers data at 800 MB/S, eSATA is 3.0 GB/S)
- 4 USB ports (two on each side, the MBP only has 2)
- Touch media controls
- SD Card Reader
- Blue Ray player available for $200
- Microphone array (the MBP only has one mic, this is great because you can use built in software to remove background noise when you are using the mics)
- Right click BUTTON
It is also important to note that the MBP has these features that the Studio does not:
- Optical audio in/out
- Multi-touch Trackpad
- Right Click GESTURE (I prefer the button)
- Firewire 800 (The Studio does have Firewire, but it is only the mini 4 pin kind, like those found on cameras
Finally, it is important to note that both laptops have these features:
- 2 Megapixel Webcam / iSight
- No remote included, But supported (the Apple Remote is $19, the Dell is $22)
Overall, I really like my Studio 15; it feels like an extension of me and my geeky personality. One of my main reasons for not getting a MacBook Pro was that I felt like I could not customize it enough, and although some people will say “Keith, you didn’t really customize your studio, you upgraded it to the level of the MacBook Pro! The Macbook Pro is more powerful and lighter” But it just wouldn’t be me and I felt I got a much better deal with my Studio. For those of you with Macbook Pro’s (which is almost everyone reading this blog) good for you, but I’m happy with my Studio.
I hope you enjoyed my first article, be sure to keep a look out for more from me and how I put my spin on the iLife.
– Keith Hobin
Dell Studio 15 Page: http://www.dell.com/…/laptop_studio_15
Apple MacBook Pro page: http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/
Cnet review: http://reviews.cnet.com/…/dell-studio-15/….html
PCmag.com review: http://www.pcmag.com/….asp