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Dell Vostro 1310 review

Verdict

The 13.3in addition to Dell's recently redesigned Vostro range is an unmitigated success.

Review Date: 16 May 2008

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £429 (£493 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

It's no secret that we weren't that impressed by the Vostro range's debut back in 2007. While dedicated support packages and enhanced next-business-day warranties were certainly attractive extras in their own right, the hardware itself wasn't really designed for the needs of small businesses. It was, in fact, just the familiar Inspiron chassis finished in a more dour and businesslike black.

For its new Vostro range, however, Dell has taken the criticisms on board and started entirely from scratch. It's a good thing too, as in addition to the usual 15.4in and 17in models - the 1510 and 1710 - Dell has added a 13.3in laptop to the range, the Vostro 1310.

Visually, the emphasis across the range is firmly on clean lines and uncomplicated design. There are no swathes of aluminium or rows of blue flashing lights (well, just a couple of small ones), and overall the 1310 is pleasingly understated. It's not entirely lacking in class, though.

The lid is finished in a glossy black, with specks of silver sparkling under the surface, while a petite Dell logo nestles in its centre. The acres of matte black plastic are no rival for the luxurious charms of Dell's own XPS M1330, but with the most basic specification here starting at just £229 excluding VAT and delivery, it's much, much more affordable.

Despite that 13.3in screen, though, it's actually a pretty chunky laptop, and it stands 38mm proud of the desk at its front edge. Its girth might not give it the streamlined appeal of other 13.3in laptops, but its portly frame does have benefits. The 1310 feels pleasingly substantial, especially so given its cost. Try as we might, the chassis resisted our heavy-handed abuse. If you need a laptop that'll survive the daily journey from bag to desk and back again, the Vostro inspires confidence.

It came as some surprise, then, that the Vostro 1310 only weighed in at a modest 2.16kg. That's still a long way from the headline-grabbing statistics of the latest ultraportables, but it's far from overweight.

Factor in the 1310's fine battery life, and its plain, boxy figure becomes less of an issue. Our heavy usage test is a considerable strain for any laptop battery, but the Dell's lasted just six minutes short of the two-hour mark. Sitting idle, the Dell's stamina saw it survive for over five hours away from the mains.

But the real beauty of 13.3in laptops is that, in addition to being far more portable than 14.1in or 15.4in models, they also don't have to suffer the ergonomic pitfalls which beset ultraportables. And, when it comes to ergonomics, the 1310 is a shining example of the breed. Despite the relatively compact dimensions, there's a full-sized keyboard, which is a genuine joy to type upon. There's no evidence of any compromise whatsoever - no shrunken keys, no bizarre layouts; just a solid, sensible, usable keyboard.

The matte display is similarly free from any nasty traits. It's bright, evenly lit and blessed with fine contrast. Viewing angles are a touch narrower than we'd like, and the native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels is beginning to look a little cramped, but it's still more than good enough for business purposes. And although we'd ideally like a few more pixels to make for a roomier desktop, the lower resolution does have the benefit of keeping text comfortably legible. If you're going to be staring at a screen all day, every day, then that's definitely a good thing.

Performance, of course, depends on what specification you opt for. If budgets are tight, and you don't need oodles of horsepower, the basic specification of an Intel Celeron processor, 1GB RAM and an 80GB hard disk will be ample. And at just £229 ex VAT and delivery, it's surprisingly affordable.

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