Pros Compact, visually-appealing design, reasonably well-configured for HTPC use
Cons No internal TV tuner; Intel X3100 graphics are weak
Summary I thought Rich Brown's review missed the target market for this product. It's easy for PC enthusiasts to dismiss it as under-powered, and yes, you can easily buy or build a bigger PC with more bang for the buck. But, this product is not intended to be a gaming box, or a computing powerhouse. It is targeted to the same audience who'd buy a Mac Mini, or any other small form factor product...good looks, unobtrusive design, well-equipped for a basic home office or home theater PC (especially when they replace the current optical drive with a Blu-Ray drive).
I'm now on my 4th generation home theater PC, all built by me. My previous generation machines were built using Antec Sonata tower cases, but my current version is a tiny AOpen MiniPC, built out of similar, but higher-spec, laptop guts. It runs Vista Ultimate just fine, records HDTV shows, acts as my music and photo server, and is virtually silent. Nobody walking into my family room would notice a PC next to the TV. I simply plug in a large external HDD for media storage, and I use a SiliconDust HD HomeRun networked HDTV tuner. It was fun to build the AOpen MiniPC from barebones parts, but it was a big hassle to source all the laptop-class parts, and the Dell product is ready to go. Although the Intel X3100 graphics hardware is rather weak for Vista Aero, it does work for its intended purpose. It will be an even better performer when Dell inevitably upgrades the chipset to Centrino 2 (Montevina).Don't compare this to state-of-the art desktop/tower PCs, to laptops, or to cheapo-budget boxes, none of which are the intended market for this product. Compare it to the Mac Mini and to the small form-factor business PCs from Lenovo.
Pros In general performance is adequate in correspondence to the system specifications, but the system does not delivers it's promise regarding the Blue-ray.
Cons Blue-ray never worked. After 4 attempts from Dell to solve the problem (Got 3 different CPU's from Dell plus a technician visit to replace Hard drive & CD drive) in a two months period, the failure was always the same, the system just crashes.
Summary Very dissapointed with Dell. They Denied to change system for a different model, even though I offered to pay the difference if that was the case. Of course also denied to reimburse money. Dell financial denied to abort transaction even though I was assuming to lose $ 300.
Lost precious time, delays with my personal projects, tired of formating & re-installing my software, taking unnecessary risks of loosing data, a real headache. It is aggravating since I invest money and at the end I did not get what I was promised from Dell.
Got 4 computers from Dell in the last 4 years, this Hybrid was the last, I will never ever buy a Dell product.
PD: My Blue-rays played perfectly in a regular Blue-ray player
"So far so good"on by fairycastle
Pros Fast and Sexy
Cons weak wifi. Dell's famous ser5vice and warrantee a thing of the past.
Summary This computer is new, so this review won't help with potential problems down the road. The Hybrid took just a second to set up. It's designed like a ship's cabin- every inch is used ergonomically and visually great looking! Every port and slot is just right- tolerances like a Japanese motor. Since I want this to function like a home PC, I got the Core 2 Duo T8100 2.1 Gh, 800 Mhz. It is fast. Ahhh. The only glitch so far is the weak wifi signal, which probably is a matter of making an adjustment. Dell's service has gone way downhill. Endless phone waits, dropped calls, etc. However, when I finally got a tech advisor- he was a great help. Dell's warrantee has dropped from 3 to 1 years.
Pros Nice Design
Cons Horrible technical support
Summary In my 17 year IT career I have never been subject to such dissapointing technical support.
I opened an issue #620112399 4 weeks ago. It was a carry over from a previous incident I phoned in April. I am told "incredibly" that there is no record of this incident. I guess things happen so I accepted this and moved on. Regardless a new incident in logged on Sep 6th. That is the case number above. I am taken through a series of troubleshooting steps and 3... that right "3" goto assist sessions to help resolve my issue. Nothing helps and after over 2 weeks the XPS support staff finally come to conclusion that I need a replacement video card.
Great!, they recommend that I get teh new ATI series cards in crossfire to replace my NVIDIA 8800 GTX card in SLI. I'm okay with this expect for the fact that my 680i motherboard does not support those cards in that configuration. I find it bizarre that an XPS support technician in not aware of this and point this out. They confirm and then appologize. That name of that again is "Elenor". Their supervisor recommends then that I get a motherboard replacement and suggests that the new 790i motherboard will accept the new ATI cards. Well I think "WoW this must be an expensive and complex replacment" but okay... That is why I prucahse both "Next day business service AND Complete Care!" for extra $$$ with the system. But WAIT!... I ask... the new motherboard would it fit in my 720 h2c chasis? Dell support tech reps put me on hold again and then say... no...
Well that option is now down the drain. I suggest the new Nvidia 280 GTX cards. They say they need authorization for this from their "SSR" group. I say that would be just fine. Then they promise me a call back in 48 hours. Which mean I should be getting a call on the 23rd of September.
That date comes and goes without an update or call. so I calla gain to inquire when I would be recieveing the promise call back. A Dell supervisor by the name of "MACK" tells me "sorry" and assures me that I will get a call in the next 24 hours. I guess everyone can mess up... no problem... I say okay.
Another 24 hours comes and goes and still no call back. So I call again... "my second reminder call" on Sep. 24th. Again the apology and again a promise to call me back. This time at a predetermined time at 9:30 PST on the 25th. "Mohammed" the next supervisor apologizes and then assures me that he will schedule a call back at that exact time. Now I have a job of course so I need to make sure I'm availble at that time. So I do that. Again another day goes by and 9:30am comes and still no call back. Infact I don't get a call back that whole day.
Now I'm extremely frustrated. I paid $$400-500 extra for premium level support but I can't seem to get a simple call back. My system has not been working really since I received it on March 08 and I'm getting the serious run around here for a $5600 system.
I call again on the 26th and now I'm very upset but calmly explain how poor the service I have been receiving to date has been. The new tech support supervisor now informs me for the first time that the "SSR" group is backed up and that is why i have not been given my promised callback and resolution. She promises that without fail that by Monday I will be receiving my call back if not sooner. Now by this time I have receive 4. Count them. NOT 1, not 2, not 3 but 4... that is right 4 promises for a callback. So I reluctantly agree to this again... (you would think I would know better by now) but I wait again for this elusive callback from this "SSR" group at dell. Promises are made about emails sent "directly to the manager of the group" threatening punitive action if I do not get my call back... not from me but from the manager handling my case in support at the time to the manager of this "ssr" group if I do not receive my call back in a timely manner.
Can you guess what happens next?... that right... I wait another 24 hours and not it's 9/30/08 and still nothing. 5 promised call backs. I call again today (9/30) I get more hollow apologies, And more promises from another manager.
At this point I have to point this out to the general public of product consumers. I have lost faith. Can you honestly blame me? I have no alternative at this point but to make everyone aware of this poor service from Dell support and warn others about the apparent lack of any value
in Dell support, expecially their next day business support addons and their complete care program which apparently have no value.
I would also like to point out that I am a Customer Care Director and a large software company so I have hundreds of tech support agent that report to me and am well aware of support procedures and policies in my 17 years in this field. It is from this vantage point that I am making my observations which I believe are more than fair
Pros Low power consumption helps lower energy bills. Space-saving design leads to more efficient desktops. It's kind of cute.
Cons Attains low power consumption and compact size with weak CPU horsepower, lack of expandability options for peripherals and underachieving graphics capabilities for 3D gaming, Blu-ray viewing and media-centric workstations.
Summary The new, space-saving Studio Hybrid is the first of its kind: a "toy PC" from Dell - possibly aimed at kids or their hapless soccer moms/dads with limited budgets this year for wrapping paper. Perhaps this cute PC will become a cartoon character one day: the Stud-Hybrid (and his automobile sister who can rev up her MPGs and say "bye-bye" to the sinister Crude Oil Baron).
LESS IS LESS
The Stud-Hybrid uses less power than a conventional PC, however it manages to pull off this "green feat" in ways that would irk many grown-ups: poor or no expandability options for USB 2.0, e-SATA, PCI-e, WLAN 802.11 b/g... and its GMA X3100 doesn't offer the punch of true 1080p HD for full Blu-ray viewing. Gamers beware: you must be under this height to dare put a persistent universe on a Stud-Hybrid.
I have yet to find any Stud-Hybrid disclaimers about how its tiny cooling system can keep itself cool-to-the-touch or whether the little buddy has noiseless operation (shhh!) and shock absorption to fend off bruises - the Stud-Hybrid looks fairly easy to stomp, bump or push off a desktop, eh? That said, Dell does give the Stud-Hybrid a helmet available in various lollipop colors... but with what intent? Parachuters jumping 5000 feet also put on helmets, you know, in case the parachute doesn't open.
STYLING RATING: Hot
The Stud-Hybrid is like an actor on a TV show that takes place on a beach in that although it looks the part, it can't quite act the part. Such a qualification, however, for certain buyers may be enough to pull the lever. Its sleek, attractive skin can be decorated with stick-on laptop PC tats such as "I'm goin' process you, fool... in a long series of 1(s) and 0(s)!" Equally or more popular are stickers of flowers, personalized street signs, unicorn holograms, sports team logos and colleges, etc.
VERSUS A LAPTOP
A tug-of-war it is not: the laptop easily wins. Perhaps I could contrive some props for the Stud-Hybrid based on its monitor flexibility for those who want to squint at a screen exceeding 12"-17" - but the durn thing doesn't support dual displays nor does it support true 1080p HD home theater viewing or true 3D gaming graphics.