Dell Vostro V13 review

Reviews 18 Mar, 2010

Business laptops aren't supposed to look good or offer cutting-edge design, so what does Dell think it's doing by unleashing a gorgeous, slim, Adamo-style machine for £400? We review the Dell Vostro V13 to find out.

4
Price: 
£409
ex VAT
Verdict: 
With this particular model's performance restrictions in mind, it's hard to give the V13 an unhesitating recommendation. If you want to use it for much more than simple web browsing and editing you could find yourself up against frequent performance bottlenecks. While there's little to complain about in terms of portability, the lack of high-end business features mean some companies will have reservations about rolling these out to dozens of users. But there's no arguing with the V13's good looks or superb build quality - we struggle to think of many laptops on the market that look this good, much less business laptops, and much less business laptops that start at comfortably under £400. Even the higher-end V13, which comes with a dual-core processor and a more comfortable amount of RAM, is a deeply tempting proposition for anyone who wants a machine that will survive a life on the road, even if it doesn't check every box on the features list.

IT managers will have been familiar with Dell's Vostro range for a few years now. Just as Dell has its Inspiron and Studio systems for low and high end consumers respectively, so the Vostro range was the counterpoint to Dell's higher-end Latitude laptops.

For a while the news was all bad - Dell's Vostro laptops were clunky, boxy laptops whose limited sex appeal and poor performance was only assuaged by their high price.

But the V13 is around 1cm thick when closed, and the silver chassis feels solid and looks better than most high-end business laptops. It's portable as well. Made out of classy-feeling aluminium it weighs 1.6kg, fits in a crowded bag, and feels like it will take the knocks of a life on the road.

Its portability credentials are bolstered by its results in our battery tests. Under intensive use the V13 ran for just over two hours, while restricting our activities to light use allowed the 6-cell battery to run for a shade under four hours, so most users can expect to see something comfortably in the middle.

The only potential gripe for IT managers is that the battery isn't removable by a user, so there's no way to take a spare on a business trip, or install an increased-capacity model.

Unfold the lid and things are a bit less dazzling. The inside of the V13 is what Vostro owners will have come to expect - a lot of matte black surfaces and little glitz. It's not dreadfully ugly, but it's an abrupt contrast to the outside.

Your users should be happy, though. The keyboard is good considering V13's thin dimensions, with a reasonably solid base. And, although the action of the keys is slightly brittle, we had no problem hammering out long emails. Satisfyingly, none of the keys are half-height. It's a similar story with the track pad, which while nothing to specifically write home about, isn't distractingly poor and whose buttons offer a good solid click.

Ergonomically the V13 fits the dull-but-functional brief perfectly.

Specifications: 

CPU: 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500

Memory: 2GB 533MHz DDR3

Storage: 320GB hard disk

Graphics: Intel GMA 4500MHD

Connectivity: 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet

Operating system: Windows 7 Business Edition

Warranty: 1 year collect and return

Dimensions: 330 x 230 x 17mm (WDH)

Weight: 1.59kg