Dell's Vostro deserves praise for its style and build quality, and is one of a few laptops we've seen that's a pleasure to use. However, the sealed battery is a big letdown for business travellers, and a professional laptop should not come with Windows 7 Home Premium. Pros: Slim; relatively light; sturdy aluminium case; stylish design Cons: Sealed battery; low battery life; consumer version of Windows
£682.80 as reviewed, including VAT and delivery
Intel Core i5-470UM dual-core ULV processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 500GB 7,200rpm Sata drive, 13.3in LED-backlit 1,366 x 768 display, 64-Bit Windows 7 Home Premium, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gigabit Ethernet, optional 3G broadband modem
Dell's V130 is the latest addition to its Vostro line aimed at small-to-medium sized businesses. It comes in a thin-and-light format with new styling that draws comparison with the most costly executive systems.
The Vostro V130 features a decent 13.3in screen, aluminium casing, ample enough processing power and a relatively light weight of 1.59kg for its size.
In fact, the new Vostro is a very impressive laptop, let down by just a few drawbacks. The slimline design means that the system does not feature a DVD drive, which means purchasing a plug-in external USB unit if you need to install applications.
A more serious flaw is the battery, which is sealed inside the case. This prevents business users from carrying a spare on business trips, and also means that the entire laptop will have to be returned to Dell when the battery starts to wear out or develops a fault. Likewise, there is no way to easily upgrade the memory without returning it to Dell.
This arrangement is a recent development among Windows laptops, and seems to be influenced by Apple. However, it is a bad idea on a business system for the reasons just outlined.
Another curious decision is that the Vostro V130 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium by default. This is aimed at consumers, rather than the business-focused Windows 7 Professional edition, which allows users to log in to a Windows domain on a business network. Buyers can specify the latter for an additional fee.
Taken together, the sealed battery and choice of operating system put a question mark over whether Dell really sees the V130 as a business laptop, or whether it has one eye on the consumer market.
Despite these criticisms, there is a lot to like about the new Vostro, especially its neat, professional styling and good build quality. The aluminium case feels sturdy, and another reassuring touch is the chunky screen hinges made from zinc, which look like they would stand up to a lifetime of use.
Keyboard and screen
Flipping open the Vostro reveals a very good keyboard for typing, with decent sized, well-spaced keys that make it comfortable to use for long periods. The touchpad is also a good size, and we had no complaints when using it during this review.
The 13.3in display is impressive, and has plenty of room for spreadsheets or multiple application windows with its 1,366 x 768 native resolution, without the text seeming too small to read.
The sleek styling of the Vostro V130 is due in part to most of the I/O ports being confined to the rear of the system. Here you will find two USB ports plus a combined USB/eSata port that allows high-speed external storage to be connected for backup.
There are HDMI and VGA outputs for linking to an external display, plus Gigabit Ethernet LAN and a slot for a security cable.