Dell Studio 1555 – Beautiful and Expensive laptop feels Cheap!

Updated February 16, 2010

I have had my Dell Studio 1555 for about a month now. I must say, it is one of the most beautiful laptops I have ever laid eyes on!

The bright 15.6” LCD does not get as dim as I would like for late-night projects. And I was afraid the 1920×1080 resolution would make everything too tiny or overload the graphics card. … Instead, everything looks so “smooth”. Colors are beautiful and vivid. And it has actually turned out to be a little easier on the eyes than my previous laptop (a 15.4” Dell Inspiron E1505 with 1680×1050 resolution).

I thought the “black chainlink” cover design would give it the appearance of being a cheap toy. Instead it brings a touch of elegant sophistication. Unfortunately, fingerprints show up so easily and I find myself polishing them off with a soft cloth several times per week.

The Dell Dock is an ingenious way to organize shortcuts to your favorite and most-used applications without cluttering your desktop. (Cluttered desktops drive me crazy!) And the Windows 7 Pro operating system seems to be handling available resources very well.

Now for the cons:

Ventilation — This system seems to be poorly designed in the ventilation department. Especially in the touchpad area. It gets uncomfortably hot (borderline burning) if you use anything resource-intensive. Within an hour of turning on my brand new computer, I had to search for an external mouse. That night, I placed a folded t-shirt under my wrists so I could rest my hands while I typed. (It was that hot.)

Touchpad — In addition to the overheating issue, the touchpad somehow feels awkward to use. That may just be the part of me that hates change speaking up. But it also seems to have sensitivity issues – I cannot draw a large object. It comes out as a series of smaller ones as if it thinks I am clicking several times. As a graphics designer, this is not acceptable. I tried adjusting the sensitivity with no luck.

Keyboard — I was very excited about my first back-lit keyboard. But it too has turned into a disappointment. It took me a while to figure out how to adjust the backlight brightness. And I didn’t appreciate media taking priority over function-keys by default. (meaning if you want to use F5 to refresh your page, you had to hold down the Fn while you hit F5. … Otherwise it would do something like adjust your screen brightness.) This can easily be switched in the Bios. But not everybody is comfortable with making changes in Bios.

The biggest disappointment in my keyboard has been how cheap it feels. If I push a key hard enough to type a character, the whole keyboard bows down! Several keys also squeak as if they need some WD-40. (Please, do not take this as a suggestion to spray your own keyboard!)

Media Card Reader — I use SD cards on an almost daily. I am very sad to say that the media card in my Dell Studio 1555 just doesn’t fit right. – It is hard to put my SD cards in and hard to get them out. Makes me think of when I was a kid and several off-brand blocks got mixed in with my legos. They looked like they should work. And once put together they did their job well. But they didn’t really “fit.”

USB — Yet another thing that just doesn’t fit. … The USB port on the right side of my computer works fine. I use it every day. But the USB and the USB/eSATA combo port on the left are both very tight. I am afraid my devices would get broken if I tried to use these ports on a regular basis. For the time being, I have inserted a hub so that I’m not constantly fighting to plug and unplug stuff.

Minor Annoyances / Words to the wise

Slot Load DVD — You cannot use specially sized or shaped discs in slot load DVD/CD/Bluray players. Also, after changing the bios so that I have to hold down Fn to use my media keys, holding down Fn while you push the eject key does nothing. Just push the eject key by itself. – This seems kind of backwards and it took me several  minutes to figure out how to get a disc out. (Eject key is located on the keyboard, right after F12)

Also, this laptop does not come with the standard lights to tell you if the caps, wifi, and Bluetooth are on or if the hard drive is in use. You can still check the status of all except the hard drive on your task bar.

Closing Statements

In Dell’s defense, they did offer to replace my new with another Studio 1555. But I see that several others people have the same complaints as me. At this point, I fear that a replacement would suffer many of the same design flaws. So, I will wait a year or two and see if they come out with a better design for the Studio series.

Dell Studio 1555 – Beautiful and Expensive laptop feels Cheap!

Updated February 16, 2010

I have had my Dell Studio 1555 for about a month now. I must say, it is one of the most beautiful laptops I have ever laid eyes on!

The bright 15.6” LCD does not get as dim as I would like for late-night projects. And I was afraid the 1920×1080 resolution would make everything too tiny or overload the graphics card. … Instead, everything looks so “smooth”. Colors are beautiful and vivid. And it has actually turned out to be a little easier on the eyes than my previous laptop (a 15.4” Dell Inspiron E1505 with 1680×1050 resolution).

I thought the “black chainlink” cover design would give it the appearance of being a cheap toy. Instead it brings a touch of elegant sophistication. Unfortunately, fingerprints show up so easily and I find myself polishing them off with a soft cloth several times per week.

The Dell Dock is an ingenious way to organize shortcuts to your favorite and most-used applications without cluttering your desktop. (Cluttered desktops drive me crazy!) And the Windows 7 Pro operating system seems to be handling available resources very well.

Now for the cons:

Ventilation — This system seems to be poorly designed in the ventilation department. Especially in the touchpad area. It gets uncomfortably hot (borderline burning) if you use anything resource-intensive. Within an hour of turning on my brand new computer, I had to search for an external mouse. That night, I placed a folded t-shirt under my wrists so I could rest my hands while I typed. (It was that hot.)

Touchpad — In addition to the overheating issue, the touchpad somehow feels awkward to use. That may just be the part of me that hates change speaking up. But it also seems to have sensitivity issues – I cannot draw a large object. It comes out as a series of smaller ones as if it thinks I am clicking several times. As a graphics designer, this is not acceptable. I tried adjusting the sensitivity with no luck.

Keyboard — I was very excited about my first back-lit keyboard. But it too has turned into a disappointment. It took me a while to figure out how to adjust the backlight brightness. And I didn’t appreciate media taking priority over function-keys by default. (meaning if you want to use F5 to refresh your page, you had to hold down the Fn while you hit F5. … Otherwise it would do something like adjust your screen brightness.) This can easily be switched in the Bios. But not everybody is comfortable with making changes in Bios.

The biggest disappointment in my keyboard has been how cheap it feels. If I push a key hard enough to type a character, the whole keyboard bows down! Several keys also squeak as if they need some WD-40. (Please, do not take this as a suggestion to spray your own keyboard!)

Media Card Reader — I use SD cards on an almost daily. I am very sad to say that the media card in my Dell Studio 1555 just doesn’t fit right. – It is hard to put my SD cards in and hard to get them out. Makes me think of when I was a kid and several off-brand blocks got mixed in with my legos. They looked like they should work. And once put together they did their job well. But they didn’t really “fit.”

USB — Yet another thing that just doesn’t fit. … The USB port on the right side of my computer works fine. I use it every day. But the USB and the USB/eSATA combo port on the left are both very tight. I am afraid my devices would get broken if I tried to use these ports on a regular basis. For the time being, I have inserted a hub so that I’m not constantly fighting to plug and unplug stuff.

Minor Annoyances / Words to the wise

Slot Load DVD — You cannot use specially sized or shaped discs in slot load DVD/CD/Bluray players. Also, after changing the bios so that I have to hold down Fn to use my media keys, holding down Fn while you push the eject key does nothing. Just push the eject key by itself. – This seems kind of backwards and it took me several minutes to figure out how to get a disc out. (Eject key is located on the keyboard, right after F12)

Also, this laptop does not come with the standard lights to tell you if the caps, wifi, and Bluetooth are on or if the hard drive is in use. You can still check the status of all except the hard drive on your task bar.

In Dell’s defense, they did offer to replace my new with another Studio 1555. But I see that several others people have the same complaints as me. At this point, I fear that a replacement would suffer many of the same design flaws. So, I will wait a year or two and see if they come out with a better design for the Studio series.

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