Dell Vostro 3300 review
Dell's 13.3in business laptop is certainly affordable, but there's room for improvement
Review Date: 6 Oct 2010
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £449 (£528 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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