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Dell Vostro 131 review

Ultrabooks may be hogging the limelight for now, but Dell’s new Vostro 131 is a solid business ultraportable that costs considerably less. Julian Prokaza assesses its suitability for life on the move.

The amount of give in the wrist rest just below the track pad was more worrying. A small amount of pressure was enough bend the middle of the case so that it touched the desktop beneath and the whole bottom half felt flexible enough to crack in half with both hands.Battery life was rather more notable and with Wi-Fi disabled and the screen at 50% brightness, the Vostro 131 lasted for a very impressive six hours and 20 minutes.

This isn't something likely to happen in normal use, admittedly, but this is a potential weak spot nonetheless. It's perhaps unreasonable to expect lightweight magnesium alloy trusses inside a laptop at this price, but it's still a shame Dell didn't beef up this part of the chassis using some other means.

The trackpad itself is large and responsive, with two large, separate buttons with a positive action. The trackpad can also be disabled with a Function key shortcut to avoid accidental activation while typing.

Vostro 131 prices start at 431 inc VAT for a model with an Intel Celeron processor with 2GB RAM and rise to 767 for a Core i5 chip and 4GB RAM. The mid-range model we reviewed had a 2.4GHz Core i3 chip and 4GB RAM the other specifications are essentially the same across the range (the is the only model with a 7200rpm hard drive, for some reason), but an internal 3G modem is standard issue on the two top-end models.

The Core i3 processor means the Vostro 131 is far from an ultraportable powerhouse, but performance, as measured by our typical-use application benchmarks, is in line with other Core i3 laptops.

Battery life, however, was rather more notable and when running the same tests with Wi-Fi disabled and the screen at 50% brightness, the laptop lasted for a very impressive six hours and 20 minutes.

Verdict

Although not without some issues, the Dell Vostro 131 is a solid business ultraportable and its shortcomings are largely mitigated by its low price and long battery life. The lack of a desktop dock or port replicator option will limit its use to some and we have a few reservations about build quality, but these don’t detract too much from its excellent value.

Operating system: Windows 7 Professional

Processor: Intel Core i3 2330M (2.2GHz)

RAM: 1x 2GB DDR3 (2x 4GB max)

Storage: 500GB SATA (7200rpm)

Screen: 13.3” (1366 x 768) LED-backlit with anti-glare coating

Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n (dual-band), Bluetooth 3.0 + High Speed, Gigabit Ethernet, WiDI

Ports: RJ45, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 3.5mm mic, 3.5mm headphone, memory card reader, HDMI, VGA

Other: Web cam (720p), fingerprint reader

Battery: 6-cell, 65Wh lithium ion

Size: 329.3 x 21 x 237.7mm

Weight: 1.82kg

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