Dell Vostro 3300 review

6 Oct 2010

Dell's 13.3in business laptop is certainly affordable, but there's room for improvement

Price when reviewed: 
528inc VAT
4

Business laptops don't need to be gorgeous to succeed, they just need to work, and work well. But while some companies may be willing to pay the premium for high-end workstations, smaller companies need a more affordable option. Dell's Vostro range provides just that, and its Vostro 3300 is a compact 13.3in business laptop with a healthy dose of processing power.

If you're expecting a no-frills budget build then the Vostro 3300 will come as a pleasant surprise. The two-tone silver and black exterior is unusually smart and attractive for a business model, and despite a modest 1.94kg weight, feels reasonably stout.

It's no match for Dell's pricier Latitude models, though. Pull really hard on its base and there's a noticeable bit of flex to and fro. Neither do you need to prod the lid with any real force before it fouls the LCD panel inside, causing ripples on the displayed image.

Dell Vostro 3300

Ergonomics are a key ingredient of any business laptop worth its salt, and here the Vostro does just enough to remain competitive. We'd hardly describe the keyboard as being brilliant, but it isn't hateful either.

There aren't any needlessly shrunken keys, but the decision to arrange the Home cluster of keys on a vertical strip on the right side of the keyboard leaves it feeling more cramped than it should. The feel could be improved too, with the short travel keys and slight give in the base leaving the keys feeling somewhat dead under the finger.

It's a shame the keyboard isn't better, as some elements of the Vostro 3300's design are impressively sensible. The strip of touch-sensitive media controls along the keyboard's top edge are a nice touch, and the headphone and microphone inputs, wireless switch and SD/MMC card reader are all mounted within easy reach on the front edge.

Meanwhile, three USB ports are dotted about, one doubling as an eSATA port, while Gigabit Ethernet, D-SUB and HDMI fill in the gaps. There's also an ExpressCard/34 slot and a DVD writer just alongside, as well as 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth. Oh, and a fingerprint reader. There's really very little missing.

Details

Price ex VAT £449
Price inc VAT £528
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 325 x 229 x 30mm (WDH)
Weight 1.940kg
Travelling weight 2.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-430M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM57
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM 256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 300GB
Hard disk usable capacity 279GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9320423AS
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-U633F
Battery capacity 2,700mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 56min
Battery life, heavy use 57min
Overall application benchmark score 1.55
Office application benchmark score 1.45
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.52
Encoding application benchmark score 1.38
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.84

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A