It's hard to write a review of any all-in-one PC and not reference Apple's wildly popular iMac line. So we're not even going to bother, and presume you know what an iMac looks like. Dell's Studio One 19 looks like one too, albeit in white plastic rather than aluminium, a design choice that places it somewhere in-between the equally plastic MSI Wind Top AE1900 and something like the long-redundant eMac line. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and Dell offers the system in a variety of fashion colours. Our review sample was in Solid White, but you can pick from Navy Blue, Tuscan Red or inevitably Powder Pink. The keyboard and mouse that accompany the Studio One are serviceable but not stunning pieces of design, although they are wireless.
It's a fair guess that anyone buying a system from Dell will know who they're buying it from. Dell's not taking any chances however, and every single component of the system bears a prominent Dell logo. There's one on the mouse. There's an embedded logo on the keyboard. There's two of the things on the main body — one at the front and one on back. It's one big happy Dell advertisement, in other words, and while tastes may vary, we feel it's a bit over the top.
The primary display on the Studio One 19 is, as the name suggests, a 19-inch panel with a top resolution of 1366x768 pixels. It's run from a 256MB Nvidia Geforce 9200 and Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz processor and 4GB of RAM, although being Dell, configuration options are available to suit your price preferences. One of the more puzzling optional inclusions is the option for an integrated Blu-ray drive. By default it comes with a slot loading 8x DVD+/-RW writer, but for an additional AU$324 you can pop in a Blu-ray drive instead. We've got to ponder why. At 19 inches with a top resolution of 1366x768, what extra detail are you going to see?
Aside from its compact all-in-one nature, the other big selling point of the Studio One 19 is its touchscreen capability, which is one of the features that's being heavily touted in Windows 7. Our review sample, however, came with Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit, a slightly less compelling option that's had touch capabilities more or less bolted on via a sliding panel that Dell refers to as the "Touch Zone". This offers a variety of multimedia activities, from photo viewing to the same simple silly games the Eee Top offers, as well as kid-friendly activities such as an on-screen drum kit. We're still on the fence when it comes to the real utility of touchscreen computing as it relates to current interfaces, and Vista arguably isn't the ideal presentation platform for it. Any system you buy now should either come with Windows 7 or an upgrade voucher for it, though.
On a benchmark front, the in-built Nvidia 9200 provided no particular surprises with a 3DMark06 score of 1486. Enough for touchscreen solitaire or The Sims 3, but perhaps not enough for Crysis comfortably. Somehow, we suspect hardcore FPS players aren't the target market. PCMark 05 stubbornly refused to run, but even light usage of the Studio One 19 earmarks it as a decent but not stunning productivity machine. We quickly found the mouse somewhat irritating to use for extended work, but as the system has plenty of USB ports, this shouldn't be an ongoing issue.
The highly touted touchscreen does work, with multi-touch support for gestures like pinching included, but only moderately well. Though it's impossible to say if that's an issue with the software or the hardware. As an example, the on-screen drum kit application does respond to presses, but there's a noticeable gap between presses and drum hits. We discovered it was long enough that we could hear the tap of our fingers on the glass before we heard a drum sound, which isn't good.
There's clearly a market for all-in-one stylish devices — that's practically Apple's entire revenue stream, after all — and Dell clearly wants a piece of that pie. The full price Studio One system we've reviewed, however, is arguably not that great a system, and we'd suggest stripping it back to the AU$1499 offering. You're not going to lose a lot of actual productivity, but you'll save yourself a nice chunk of change along the way.