The Dell Vostro V131 is aimed at the small and medium business consumer. The Vostro V131 is an affordable 13.3″ ultraportable which falls within even tight IT budgets. The lastest incarnation of the range incorporates Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and a removable battery. It’s a fine-looking businesss notebook, done out in dark gray and silver. The V131 measures 13 by 9.1 by 0.8 inches.
It tips the scales at 1.8kg, a full 170g than its predecessor the Vostro V130. The V130′s weak point was its poor battery life, but in light usage tests the battery now lasts almost 8 hours. So the improvement carries a weight penalty. Application performance is similarly improved. The last generation used low-voltage CPUs, and although the new range offers the possibility of a low-voltage Celeron processor, other options include an Intel i3-2310M or a Core i5-2410M , which was the version we tested.
The keyboard is not entirely flex-free and the lid feels less than robust, but the backlit keyboard delivers comfortable typing, helped by the wide spaces between the chiclet-style keys . The multitouch touchpad is first-rate, with pinpoint cursor control, and the two buttons give a sharp responsive click.
Although the Vostro V131 lacks docking station options, connectivity is good – two USB 3 sockets sit aside a D-SUB video output and a headphone jack, there is an HDMI socket, a USB 2 port and an SD/MS/MMC card reader, as well as Wifi-n and Bluetooth 3.
For security-conscious people there is a fingerprint reader . The SIM card slot has been moved frm the front edge to underneath the battery, which makes SIM changes less snappy, but the main sticking point is the lack of an optical drive.
Dull displays are commonplace on business notebooks, but the Vostro V131 13.3″ 1366 x 768 display is worse than most, with bland image quality and pale colors . At least the matte finish prevents the display failing on every count. Our flagship model costs $799, which for an i5-2410M CPU with 4GB RAM and 500GB storage represents acceptable value for money. For that sort of outlay, we might tolerate either the lack of dedicated graphics processing, or the lack of an optical drive, but not both, and certainly not coupled with such a disappointing display.
The stripped down budget version – no backlit keyboard or 3G connectivity, a feeble 1.1GHz Celeron 847 CPU with 2GB RAM and a 320GB hard drive comes in at $550, but even so more bang for your buck can be had elsewhere. For a fully-featured business notebook, the Sony VAIO S would be a better option.
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