Dell Studio Hybrid, new Inspirons reviewed

Summary:Dell announced today three new PCs. One of them, the Studio Hybrid, is a small form-factor desktop with a novel design that competes with the Apple Mac mini and HP Slimline series.

Dell’s Studio Hybrid, new Inspirons reviewed
Dell announced today three new PCs. One of them, the Studio Hybrid, is a small form-factor desktop with a novel design that competes with the Apple Mac mini and HP Slimline series. The other two, the Dell Inspiron 13 laptop and Dell Inspiron 518 desktop, are more practical back-to-school boxes.

The Studio Hybrid is marketed as a green PC, and some early photos emphasized the bamboo case. As with a hybrid car, a green PC costs a little extra. The bamboo sleeve is a $150 option, and most buyers will probably end up choosing either the standard gray, plastic sleeve or a different color for $20. With or without bamboo, the Studio Hybrid's power-saving laptop components, use of recycled materials and minimal packaging make it an environmentally-friendly choice.

Like most small form-factor desktops, the Studio Hybrid's specs don't stack up to those of standard desktops at the same price, but for some the compact, attractive design is worth it. In the vertical stand, it measures 8.8 x 3 x 8.3 inches (you can also lay it flat with or without the stand). The Studio Hybrid starts at $500 (configuration details are here) and is available online. Both CNET and have posted full reviews.

"It's hard for us to recommend the Dell Studio Hybrid desktop for any practical purpose . . . [but] if aesthetics are your chief concern, the Studio Hybrid will reward you with its good looks and respectable computing power." [CNET]

". . . A good alternative to the boxy mainstream PCs that have dominated the market since the dawn of personal computing." []

New laptops with 13-inch displays are likely to be a popular choice for back-to-school since they provide a little more real estate than the 12.1-inch displays in ultraportables, but are much more portable than 15.4-inch mainstream models. The Inspiron 13 weighs less than 5 pounds and includes capacitive touch media controls, a media card reader and slot-loading DVD drive. A $700 configuration will be available at Wal-Mart starting August 3, and configurable versions will be available online later in August.

The Inspiron 518 is a standard tower PC, though Dell spruced-up the Inspiron case and added a tray on top with USB ports for cell phones and MP3 players. The new model is now available online starting at $350 with a 2GHz Intel Pentium E2180 dual-core processor, 1GB of memory, integrated graphics, a 250GB hard drive, DVD drive, and Windows Vista Home Basic SP1. You can bump it up to a quad-core processor (the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600) for $140. has posted a full review.

"The Dell Inspiron 518 is a good middle-of-the-road PC with the benefit of no crapware." []

Topics: Dell, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility


John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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