The Dell Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS) ($999.99 list), which is available at Costco, is very similar to the Studio One 19 I looked at earlier this year. Like the previous iteration, this Studio One 19 is a smallish all in one PC with a 18.5-inch touch screen panel. It’s more powerful than the sub $600 all in one nettops we’re seeing on the market these days, and it’s also priced accordingly. It has all the PC hardware squeezed in behind the screen, so it’s sleek like the Apple iMac. It’s a good way to try out the “touch” that will be part of Windows 7, especially if you need a system for back to school now.
Except for the fact that the Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS) comes with black speakers, and the first Studio One 19 had red speakers, not much differentiates the two systems on the outside. Both have the same rounded flat panel TV look, and those speakers really sound good when playing back music or audio from Web videos. They have some of the best stereo separation I’ve heard in an all in one PC, especially when sitting in front of the system. The wireless keyboard and mouse complete the Studio One 19’s design aesthetic: There are no wires to muck up the system’s clean lines except for the required power cable.
The Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS)’s touch screen is just as responsive as its predecessor, though I still needed to touch the screen more than once while surfing the Web in Internet Explorer 7. Upgrading to IE 8 didn’t help much, though I’m hoping that upgrading to Windows 7 later will help touch functionality. Other touch navigation including the “Touch Zone” interface was quick and snappy. It’s not quite the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch’s level of touch accuracy, but it’s still one of the better touch interfaces on a PC.
The Costco-based model comes with a 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 processor, 4GB of memory, a 320GB SATA hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics cared, and DVD burner. These are all good components, though the integrated 18.5-inch screen’s native 1,366 by 768 resolution is a little on the low side (I usually expect 1,680 by 1,050 or something similar at this screen size). On the one hand it makes the icons bigger and easier to touch; on the other, it also means you can’t fit too much on the screen if you boost the text size to make links easier to touch. It also means that high-def videos on the Internet have to be played at 720p instead of full 1080p. On the plus side, since the system comes from Costco, it has a longer two-year warranty, instead of the one-year standard warranty if you had bought the system direct from Dell.
The Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS) comes with a software build that is very good, bordering on great. Like most Dell systems these days, the bloatware is minimal (just a few icons like eBay and the Roxio burning package muck up the clean desktop). One surprise is that instead of the trial version of Office, there’s a fully functional version of Office 2007 (students and teachers edition) on the system, which means you can double click on that .doc file with impunity, edit and save safely, and that there’s nothing to clean up. (The pre-installed 60-day trial version of Office is one of my pet peeves). There’s also the aforementioned Touch Zone interface to navigate multimedia, and there’s the Cozi Family Organizer Web service for setting up private social networks. There’s a neat face-recognition utility for logging in (handy if more than one person shares the PC), but it does keep the camera on all the time if you use it (a potential security risk).
The Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS) is a decent performer: with its dual core Pentium processor instead of the single-core Atom found in many nettops, the all-in-one desktop does well on our benchmark tests. It gets a good 1 minute 14 seconds on our Windows Media Encoder test, and just under two minutes on the PhotoShop CS4 test. Both are very good scores, and far above the five minute time on WME I’ve seen on some nettops. Any 3D testing was a no-go, since the Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS)’s display can’t sync up to the 1,280 by 1,024 resolution needed for the basic 3D tests.
Compared with the new crop of all in ones and the old standbys, the Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS) fits right in the middle of the pack. It is more powerful than cheaper desktops like the Averatec D1133 and Tangent Vita LT. It’s smaller than the similarly priced Averatec D1200, though the D1200 is more of a HDTV replacement. It’s cheaper than the first Studio One 19 I reviewed, and shares its strengths and weaknesses. The Apple iMac is more expensive, and holds on to its Editors’ Choice award as our mid/higher end all in one PC. The Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 is more of a direct competitor to the Studio One 19, and keeps our Editors’ Choice nod since it has a larger, higher resolution screen for significantly less money ($699).
Overall, the Dell Studio One 19 (EO19-USE012CS) is a good choice, with many added features that justify its almost $1,000 price tag. Its touch screen is innovative and usable, thought I think we’ll have to wait for Windows 7 before touch is a “must have” on desktop PCs. It’s a good choice for the college-bound student who doesn’t want a notebook PC, but still needs to buy a new PC for the dorm room.