Ultrabooks may be hogging the limelight for now, but Dell’s new Vostro 131 is a solid business ultraportable that costs considerably less. Julian Prokaza assesses its suitability for life on the move.
It’s still too early to know whether or not Ultrabooks will inject new life into the flagging laptop market, but one certainty is that their comparatively high prices put them out of reach of buyers with only a modest amount of money to spend.
Anyone prepared to forgo the ultra-slim good looks of an Ultrabook can still pick up a lightweight, low-cost ultraportable though, as the new Dell Vostro 131 ably demonstrates.
Tipping the scales at 1.82kg and with a 13.3” screen, the Vostro 131 offers a reasonable balance between weight and size, not least since this includes the additional bulge of a 6-cell battery.
It isn’t the slimmest ultraportable available, but the case still only measures 21mm at its thickest point (excluding that battery bulge) and although its squared-off shape looks a little dated next to the sleek curves of most Ultrabooks, the gentle wedge shape and thinned front corners help streamline its profile.
Much of the Vostro 131’s case is made from plastic, but the lid is wrapped in metal and Dell offers a choice of two colours: red or silver. A single sheet of metal of the same colour covers most of the underside and the two sides, and feels sturdy enough to cope with the kind of knocks that come from being carted around day. It makes a refreshing change from the matte black that most budget business laptops are clad in, too.
There’s no internal optical drive, but the Vostro 131 is relatively well equipped when it comes to ports. It’s a shame Dell didn’t put more than just the power socket on the rear of the laptop though, since cables running from the rows of sockets that run down the left and right sides of the laptop makes for an untidy desktop set-up, and there’s no dock option for this model. The ports are at least towards the rear of the case and well away from the hands when typing, though.
Operating system: Windows 7 Professional
Processor: Intel Core i3 2330M (2.2GHz)
RAM: 1x 2GB DDR3 (2x 4GB max)
Storage: 500GB SATA (7200rpm)
Screen: 13.3” (1366 x 768) LED-backlit with anti-glare coating
Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n (dual-band), Bluetooth 3.0 + High Speed, Gigabit Ethernet, WiDI
Ports: RJ45, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 3.5mm mic, 3.5mm headphone, memory card reader, HDMI, VGA
Other: Web cam (720p), fingerprint reader
Battery: 6-cell, 65Wh lithium ion
Size: 329.3 x 21 x 237.7mm