We got a quick look at Dell's new Studio 14z thin-and-light, budget-friendly laptop, and were mildly impressed. The thing is lighter than it looks, has a great blend of performance, price, inputs and outputs, and doesn't even look too frumpy to boot. The chiclet-ish keyboard is fine, though not great, and while the lack of Studio XPS-style leather frills and capacitive touch controls might be seen as a drawback to some, we actually like the no-nonsense approach. The inclusion of HDMI, eSATA and an ExpressCard 34 slot are pretty clutch for this form factor and price, and while a cheap external drive might be necessary for occasional use at the desk, the removal of it makes total sense for the target audience of students. Perhaps most astonishing, however, is that Dell has finally figured out that people care what the bottom of their computer looks and feels like -- and this one feels great. It's a whole new world, people.

Dell Studio 14z hands-on

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