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Taste the rainbow
The base Studio 14z configuration comes in black, but for an extra $40, Dell will drape the system's top panel in blue, green, red, or purple. Hipsters will surely be able to find a shade that matches their colorway of choice. However, I'm not sure I'd pay the premium for a cosmetic treatment that's just applied to the lid. The midnight-blue hue of our test unit's top panel looks good enough that I'd want it to permeate the entire system.


Those who splurge on a colored top panel will no doubt be pleased to know that the Studio's lid is covered in a matte plastic that won't pick up unsightly fingerprints and smudges with constant handling. The finish has an almost leathery texture that's difficult to describe. It seems pretty tough, though, and scuffs are easy to buff out.

Tough is probably the best word to describe the overall feel of the system. The chassis is virtually free of flex, creaks, and other telltale signs of poor build quality. Surprisingly, the casing is all plastic. But it's good, sturdy plastic—the sort that one might find in the dashboard of a modern Audi rather than, say, a Chevrolet from the mid-90s. I get the distinct impression the Studio was beefed up specifically to handle the sort of abuse it might face at the hands of a careless grade-school student.

The seemingly child-proof chassis isn't a lightweight, though. With the optional eight-cell battery, our test system weighed in at around 4.6 pounds, according to my bathroom scale. For reference, here's how the Studio looks lined up with the 14" Asus UL80Vt we reviewed last week:




Measuring 13.2" x 9" x 0.79-1.22", the Studio is just as wide as the UL80Vt, but its footprint is about half an inch shallower. The Dell is noticeably thicker, as well, which is somewhat surprising considering it doesn't have to accommodate an optical drive.