Dell Unveils Premium Studio XPS 1640 and Studio XPS 1340

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dell_studio_xps_16_opensmallDell has already taken the wraps off of its budget notebook for CES, the Inspiron 15, and now its time for the exciting stuff. The 16-inch Studio XPS 1640 dazzles with a first-of-its-kind RGBLED display. And the Studio XPS 1340 is a more modern looking successor to the XPS M1330. Both notebooks, which are available now on starting at $1,199, offer welcome redesigns, complete with glossy black finishes, leather appointments, aluminum accents, and backlit keyboards and touchpads. Like most high-end multimedia notebooks, Dell's new Studio XPS 1640 offers an optional 1080p display. But this is no ordinary screen. It's the first on the market powered by RGBLED technology, delivering 100 percent of the color gamut. Most displays offer only 40 to 60 percent. What's the payoff for this $250 upsell? Truer, more vibrant colors—up to 16.7 million of them, in fact—whether you're watching Blu-ray movies, playing games, or editing photos. You'll also enjoy 130-degree viewing angles, a fast response time of 8ms, and an impressive 300 nits of brightness. Under the hood of the Studio XPS 1640 are the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3670 graphics (with 512MB of video memory), and your choice of three hard drives (500GB at 5,400 rpm, 320GB at 7,200 rpm, or a 128GB SSD). Other highlights include HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, eSATA connectivity, and premium speakers with a built-in subwoofer, complete with 5.1 Dolby Digital output. dell_studio_xps_13smallThe Studio XPS 1340 looks like a good Windows alternative to the MacBook, at least on paper. In fact, this 4.9-pounder features the same Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics as Apple's premium 13-incher, although discrete Nvidia GeForce 9500M graphics is available as an option. If you go this route Dell says you'll be able to toggle the graphics cards on the fly—good for when you need to save battery power or get a little power boost. Another highlight of the Studio XPS 1340 is the slot-loading DVD drive, which offers a 1080p DVD upconversion feature when you attach this thin-and-light to a TV via HDMI. (Why not offer Blu-ray as an option?) You get two display options: an LED-backlit 13.3-inch WXGA panel paired with a 1.3-MP webcam, or a traditional CCFL screen with a sharper 2-MP webcam. Storage options include a 320GB hard drive spinning at 7,200 rpm, 500GB HDD at 5,400 rpm, and a 128GB SSD. Stay tuned for hands-on impressions.
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Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  • mostafa Says:

    I have XPS 1640 for a while and it doing great,although I live in hot country (Yemen),but the system is really great.
    First I was wondering if the core tempreture is high ((around 50)) but after search it was ok.
    When gaming most time the core tempreture go down ((around 44)) but the surface ((touch pad)) a little bit heated.
    At the recent games ((i.e COD Black Ops)) fps was down,but after I remove the driver ((11.2)) and install 10 the games was playable.even the temp goes down.

  • Joe Says:

    I've been looking up on why this has been overheating... Unfortunately, flatstatus was right. It seems like after 12 months, it's starting to wear down. Overheating, random lags, fps on games getting gradually slower... I can easily say still, that I love the design and the lighted keyboard.

  • Mike Says:

    We purchased one of these for our son to take to college. It has been nothing but trouble with overheating, hinges and other things. Three times Dell replaced the hard drive, which of course resulted in the loss of the software, files, etc. and required rebuilding. After the third time, I started insisting they replace it and the agreed. But now we're 5 weeks into this as the end of a semester approaches and the replacement Laptop still hasn't shippped. This has required many hours on the line with Dell over the year and the three rebuilds of the hard disk and other things. This seems to be a systemic problem with this product that Dell should have been aware of through the design and testing process and through it QA processes once the product was in the field. It kept overheating and they kept insisting that a BIOS update and things were going to fix it.

    We've been long-time Dell users and have a number of Dell Systems. it's going to be easier in the future just to switch back over to HP or Toshibia or some other manufacturer with better product reliability, because Dell as failed with this. And now trying to get it replaced is something started in Oct, and yet here in Mid-Nov we can't get an estimated shipping date. Totally uancceptable.

    I was also about ready to get a new powerhouse Dell desktop, but I'll buy that from a manufacturer with more reliable products too.

  • Enrique Says:

    I agree with Stuart. I will not buy another laptop without first seeing/touching it. I have had so many problems with my 1640 and I'm not gaming anything. Most of it happened when I received the Windows 7 upgrade from Dell. I've have to format my HD (at Dell Tech request) 4 times alread. It still not running right. When closing the laptop, the screen rubbs against the keyboard. So not I have a scratch on my screen. I have 6 months left on my warranty and if I could, I would return it and get my money backor exchange it for another one.

  • Stuart Says:

    Pile of $#1T! I'm not buying anything I can't touch/see/use first hand BEFORE purchasing ever again.

  • Arnold Says:

    Good looking but not properly design, I bought the studio xps 1340 last December and now the screen have several scratches. When the lid is closed, the screen touches the edge of the touch pad.
    Very dissapointing!
    Perpormance wise : good

  • Geoff Says:

    Great laptop, Only a few complaints by these two guys, not bad. Gaming is great, only complaint i have web quality not that great. i have 8 gb of ram t 9600 2.8 ghz with hd screen.

  • lim Says:

    i lost some software of dell studio xps 1340.can i download it back?

  • Fran Says:

    My 16 yr old stepson got the 1640 for Xmas. I or his dad didn't get it for him. I can already tell that this laptop won't last 1 year. He is very rough with electronics. This laptop is very heavy compared to my Dell Vostro. He will be dropping it and from what I read about the poor air flow it will be a goner in a few months.

  • smitty Says:

    In reply to flatstatus....I did notice the design issues, but my games haven't slowed down tremendously. I ALWAYS use a chill mat when gaming, regardless of ventilation and such.

    The macbook pro I replaced with this laptop got very hot as well. The point of the cooling system is to expel the heat. Given how hot the case gets, I'd say it's doing its job. Frankly, I don't like the battery and HDD getting that heat, but I have an extended warranty and I don't care. A utility shows the CPU and graphics card don't get too hot. Fallout 3 runs great on medium quality. modern warfare runs flawlessly on 1380x720.

    flatstatus is right about the terrible blacks on gaming. I never found a solution, but some programs use the better blacks that you find through photo editing and normal use. I calibrated the colors myself and I find the screen to be more accurate than the screens Apple uses in their seemingly superior macbook pro.

    Why anyone would buy another laptop for gaming that isn't an alienware.....that's beyond me. If you want a gaming laptop, you need a fatty with great performance, and plenty of breathing room IMO.

    I find the 1640 worth the price (then again, I scored a refurbished model for 500 less.). Whether or not the RGBLED screen is worth the price, I'm not so sure. I'd have to compare them side by side. As one who spends a lot of time in design and photo editing, I had to adjust the screen, as my whites were a tad on the cream paper.

    Not only does my 1640 exceed the macbook pro (don't tell that to the apple freaks), but it also exceeds my expectations in performance

  • Flatstatus Says:

    I ordered the Studio XPS 16 (aka 1640) from Dell and used it for a week... then sent it back for a refund. I wanted something that would be a decent gaming notebook. It certainly has the power under the hood but unfortunately, Dell chose form over function. Yet with the pressure from Apple and others, it's hard to blame them for compromising on things for the sake of something that looks good on the showroom floor. It's a powerful, sexy and beautiful machine, as long as you don't touch it, or turn it on.

    My system: 2.4G core 2 duo, 4GB memory, 7200 rpm HD, ATI 4670 w/ 1GB video memory, RGB LED display.

    Gripe 1 (Achilles' heel and the deal killer)

    The biggest problem with the 1640 is it's horrible thermal design. It cannot handle the ATI 4670 (or probably even the 3670) and they should have never offered this type of graphics solution in a thin suffocating chassis with poor airflow. Let me explain: Air intake is on the bottom of the chassis and there is only one fan. Both the CPU and Video card heat pipes actually join in the same area where the single fan attempts to remove heat. The exhaust is blown out thru vents on the back of the chassis. However, the 16" display panel when opened blocks this exhaust vent!! Seriously? Yes seriously!

    The result: When web browsing and doing other routine stuff, the system gets pretty hot to the point where just touching the mouse pad gets a bit uncomfortable. When gaming, forget it. You can run about 10-15 minutes with the fan running full blast before the system overheats and begins to throttle back... way back and this is on a flat cool surface where airflow is optimal. Don't even think about putting this thing on your lap. Game over... literally.

    The XPS 16 will have a short lifespan due to its poor thermal design. The heat will cause stress fractures to occur in solder joints over time due to expansion and contraction. If you use it regularly, expect this thing to last between 12 and 24 months before a hardware failure occurs. This may be the only product I've ever owned where it actually may have made sense to buy an extended warranty. But I sent it back ;-)

    In contrast, my previous generation Dell e1705 with the Nvidia 7900GS has separate fans and heat pipes, one on each side of the chassis. Air intake is on the sides and blown out the rear. The panel when open does not block the vents. You can set it on your lap or on a pillow on your lap or on the couch and run demanding games without worry of overheating.

    Gripe 2

    The highly vaunted RGB LED display. I read nothing but glowing reviews about how *stunning* this display was. What a MAJOR disapointment this thing is! First off, there is horrible LED bleed along the sides of the screen which, among other things, means it can't reproduce black, not even close. Best it can do is a very uneven dark gray. To add to the problem, Dell chose to put glass in front of the panel (to make it sexy of course) which reduces its ability to reproduce black even further. It can't reproduce white either. White has a horrible 'burnt blue' tint to it which is somewhat common with LED backlights. I can live with the white, but not the black.

    So it can't reproduce black or white very well at all. On the plus side, the LED display is BRIGHT and crisp and most people are immediately hypnotized by this. Supposedly (according to the reviews), accurate color reproduction is it's strength but this isn't my area of expertise. But quite frankly, the 17" 1920x1200 CCFL backlit panel on my Dell e1705 is superior IMO.

    Gripe 3

    The finish. OMG, like a finely polished chrome bumper, this thing is a fingerprint magnet only chrome bumpers don't get ham fisted 10 times a day. I knew that going into the deal but still was not prepared for how bad it actually was. Back in the olden days, shiny black plastic was used only for prototypes before the nice 'textured plastics' were put on. Apparently not any more. You can't even open the lid on this thing without putting a thumbprint on the screen.

    Notebooks are meant to be 'handled'. And they get handled a LOT. Use this thing just one time and it looks horrible. You always feel compelled to wipe it down... but it's futile. Forget it.


    If you are going to buy an XPS 16, don't use it for gaming. Get the lowest graphics solution (which is I believe is still the powerful heat generating ATI 3670) with the least amount of video memory. Get it in *white* not black. As for the screen, get the 1920x1080 but don't pay the xtra bucks for the RGB LED. The WLED will probably perform just as bad for less money. The 1600x900 will look like lego vision so don't even consider that resolution unless you are elderly. And last but not least, if you must waste money on this thing, waste a little more and buy and extended warranty.

    I hate to bash Dell cause I've always bought their systems and own their stock. But a bad design is a bad design. All companies have their share of them. Can't really recommend an alternative gaming notebook (altho I was considering the Sony Vaio) since I haven't owned any of the current generation from others. However, for a gaming notebook, I would roll the dice next time with Alienware as they seem to be focused on producing good designs in this category. And they are owned by none other than Dell.

  • Leo Says:

    Blu-ray for 1340 is coming soon as well.

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