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Dell Vostro V130 review

Verdict

Sleek, surprisingly powerful and with a good range of options - but battery life is poor

Review Date: 10 Dec 2010

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £904 (£1,062 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6


Dell has chosen one of Intel's low-voltage processors, but at least it's a modern one: the dual-core 1.33GHz Core i5-470UM has a maximum TDP of just 18W and, combined with the 4GB of DDR3, it gained a benchmark score of 1.06. That's faster than the 0.96 of the MacBook Air, and plenty for such a compact laptop. There's nothing in the way of discrete graphics, but that isn't a huge loss.

Of more benefit to business workers is the Vostro's 3G adapter, accessed via the SIM slot on the front edge - something Apple still doesn't offer. Also, for the first 15 months Trend Micro will host and maintain security remotely for SMBs without the resources to do so themselves. Add to this the 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3, a 2-megapixel webcam above the screen, and the option of Windows 7 Professional, and the Vostro V130 holds its own as a business laptop.

Dell Vostro V130

There's a "but", though, and it's a significant one. In our light-use battery test, the Vostro V130 held on for a mere 3hrs 55mins - that's an idle desktop with Wi-Fi disabled and brightness lowered, the best-case scenario. The sealed, Apple-esque chassis means you can't even upgrade the battery. By comparison, the MacBook Air 13in lasted an incredible 12 hours in Mac OS X and close to eight in Windows, even with a discrete Nvidia chip capable of modest gaming; the Dell doesn't even come close to competing.

That's a blow to its business credibility. The thin design and light weight count for nothing when a price tag of £904 exc VAT gets you the battery life of an average 15.6in fatty, and that's a shame, because in most respects we really do like the Vostro V130. It's a joy to use, it's customisable right down to a £399 exc VAT model with a single-core Celeron, and its looks are up there with the best of them. If that's enough for you, take the plunge - just don't expect it to last the day.

Author: David Bayon

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User comments

Do businesses use the security features?

Dell, HP, Sony & Lenovo's ThinkPads have, in the past, always included the finger scanner or TPM chip.
Dell's latest have shun them and Apple have never had them on their Macbooks; do businesses actually use the extra security features on laptops?

By Duggie on 11 Dec 2010

sometimes

In the large worldwide corp that I work in, the use of laptop finger print scanners is enabled for the upper echelons, but not for the rank & file!

By Sarcen on 12 Dec 2010

How does this compare to Latitude

David, as a current owner of the Latitude E6400, how does this compare? Obviously it's smaller but I am keen to know how the build quality differs? I have always bought Latitudes except from once buying an XPS M1530 which I instantly regretted and sold on eBay for a loss due to the 'downgrade' in build quality. Would I have any such concerns with the Vostro, being Dell's 'budget' business line?

Also, my Latitude has a 14.1" 1440x900 screen. If I were to downsize to a 13.3" would I find 1366x768 too cramped? My main usage is web browsing, Outlook and Visual Studio 2010.

Your comments would be very much appreciated as it's virtually impossible to see Dell's business laptops in the 'metal' without actually buying it - then you incur a loss if you decide to send it back.

Many thanks.

By anthona on 15 Dec 2010

@anthona: It's surprisingly robust actually. I know the Vostro is technically a cheaper brand, but it's still a thousand-pound laptop. The base is stronger than I expected given its thinness and the hinge feels good.

As for resolution, 1,366 x 768 is pretty standard at 13in, so I don't think you'd notice a huge drop. To test that you could just go into any shop and try a 13in laptop - they'll be the same in that respect.

Regards
David

By DavidBayon on 16 Dec 2010

CULV processors

@David - I see these have the Core i5 processor on the Dell website, but what it doesn't mention is the GHz which I believe is only 1.6GHz and they are using the low voltage CULV chips. I also note the relatively low benchmark score of 1.06. If I invested in one of these would it be able to handle Visual Studio 2010?

My current laptop is a Core 2 Duo 2.54GHz and I wouldn't want to spend that much only for something slower (even if it is more stylish!).

Do you have any thoughts on this aspect?

By anthona on 21 Dec 2010

@anthona: yes, it's the low-voltage version of the Core i5, so it's a little limited in its raw performance. I don't have a benchmark score for your current CPU to hand, but I imagine that would get around 1.2 in our benchmarks - not a huge difference from the Vostro's 1.06.

By DavidBayon on 22 Dec 2010

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