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Dell Vostro V13 review

Business laptops aren't supposed to look good or offer cutting-edge design, so what does Dell think it's doing by unleashing a gorgeous, slim, Adamo-style machine for £400? We review the Dell Vostro V13 to find out.

The 13.3in diagonal makes the 1,366 x 768 resolution feel roomy, and while you might not have much joy working on giant spreadsheets or attempting to run Photoshop it's fine for most tasks.

Of course, to run Photoshop or a particularly ambitious Excel document you'll need to spend more money. The model we tested (look for it under E-Value code N0313002 on Dell's website) had an Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 with a clock speed of 1.4GHz. It's unusual to see single-core processors these days, and it's clear that performance is where Dell has chosen to inflict damage to bring this particular version of the V13 in at an appealing price.

Even with 2GB of DDR3 RAM the V13's performance was irritatingly slow. Opening new tabs in Internet Explorer 8 could provoke finger-tapping slowdowns, while HD video was a definite no-go.

Unfortunately, this means that even those with limited ambitions for their work laptops will suffer the annoyance of too-slow computing - the V13 stuttered to a benchmark result of 0.40.

In general the V13's slow performance doesn't get in the way too much - those working primarily in Word or webmail will only see occasional pauses. If the V13 is being rolled out to more demanding users we'd suggest the next model up (E-value code N0313003 on Dell's site), which costs 499 before delivery or VAT but has a 1.3GHz dual-core SU7300 processor and an ample 4GB of RAM.

The only place the V13 falls down significantly is its actual business credentials. It does the fundamentals very well, but the added luxuries beloved of IT managers are missing.

There's little in the way of security add-ons, for instance. You don't get a convenient fingerprint reader or a TPM chip. There's no facility to encrypt the hard disk either, which is a shame. The disappointment is doubled by the V13's otherwise excellent suitability as a go-anywhere, do-anything business laptop; a few ticks in the important business feature boxes would help immensely.

Verdict

With this particular model's performance restrictions in mind, it's hard to give the V13 an unhesitating recommendation. If you want to use it for much more than simple web browsing and editing you could find yourself up against frequent performance bottlenecks. While there's little to complain about in terms of portability, the lack of high-end business features mean some companies will have reservations about rolling these out to dozens of users. But there's no arguing with the V13's good looks or superb build quality - we struggle to think of many laptops on the market that look this good, much less business laptops, and much less business laptops that start at comfortably under £400. Even the higher-end V13, which comes with a dual-core processor and a more comfortable amount of RAM, is a deeply tempting proposition for anyone who wants a machine that will survive a life on the road, even if it doesn't check every box on the features list.

CPU: 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 Memory: 2GB 533MHz DDR3 Storage: 320GB hard disk Graphics: Intel GMA 4500MHD Connectivity: 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet Operating system: Windows 7 Business Edition Warranty: 1 year collect and return Dimensions: 330 x 230 x 17mm (WDH) Weight: 1.59kg

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