Design and Feel
The first thing we noticed about the Studio One 19 was its weight: clocking in at over 22-pounds, this isn't something you'll wanna be moving often. The handle on the box actually broke as we were moving it to conduct this review, if that's any indication. However, once you get it out of the box and onto your workspace, this AIO doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. We have to give Dell some credit for for continuing to refining the aesthetics of its product lines, because for all intents and purposes the Studio One 19 is a really nice looking PC.
Software and Functionality
At its heart, the Studio One is a Vista PC. You know what you're in for when purchasing, and all of Vista's quirks are still there on the 19. Dell has put a lot of energy into making the most of its multitouch screen -- which doesn't come standard on the base models, we might add. There's a hefty amount of custom software that capitalizes on this headline feature, and it seems that Dell has done a fairly good job at it.
Everything starts with Dell's "Touch Zone" launcher, which uses a carousel-esque launcher to place its custom touch-enabled apps (literally) at your fingertips. There's a drum simulator -- which is bound to keep you occupied for a whole three minutes, a slew of basic games like Mahjong and Spider Solitaire, and touch-optimized music and photo apps that add to the entertainment factor of this particular all-in-one. They certainly got the job done in terms of media functionality, but we didn't dig that deep into extended functionality.
Dell has tried to make the Vista experience more finger-friendly, but unfortunately it's held back by the limitations of the OS. Familiar tablet PC features like handwriting recognition are implemented, but past that, Dell has basically added some multitouch gesture support to an OS that isn't meant for touch -- two finger scrolling and pinch-zooming are the headliners in this department. The preinstalled drivers were able to get the job done, but we needed to do a little tweaking of our own to make it worthwhile to ditch the mouse. Out of the box, there isn't really enough inertia, and you have to press fairly hard to start a flicking motion. The pinching worked a bit better, but its behavior still varies from app to app. We're pretty sure that the screen is running at less-than-maximum resolution to make UI elements a bit easier to select, but we're not sure that's a viable solution in the long run. Hopefully, with the arrival of Windows 7 and its basic multitouch features, the necessity of these "tweaks" will be negated.
For the purpose of this set of impressions, we didn't run a comprehensive set of benchmarks, but we can safely say that this machine is perfectly adequate for moderate home use. Our particular test model was rocking an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU running at 3GHz with four gigs of RAM. The NVIDIA GeForce 9200 graphics chip handled HD video fairly well, and it was an enjoyable experience to watch a streaming finale of LOST. It scored a 4.3 on Vista's obscure rating scale, and bootup times seem to be plenty fast. Of course, over time as the number of apps installed and startup processes grows, it's bound to slow down or at least take somewhat of a drop in performance.
Overall, we're pretty impressed with the Studio One 19. Its touchscreen and multitouch capabilities open up many possibilities, which still need a bit of time to incubate and permeate other mainstream apps. We hope this will change in time, however, as more and more PCs start to incorporate touch features. Dell's included apps and tweaks make the all-in-one enjoyable and fun to use, and we have no doubt that it will be very appealing to kids and adults alike -- especially for the price.