Ultraportable business notebooks tend to command a colossal price, but even with every option ticked the new semi-business Dell Vostro V131 comes in at a reasonable $1,399.
The Dell Vostro V131's pricetag is pretty impressive when you consider what’s underneath the hood. There’s a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5-2410M, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB (7,200 RPM) hard disk drive and a 3G modem. There’s no dedicated graphics card, but for most business purposes the V131 still has plenty of muscle. It scored 2,336 in PC Mark 7, confirming that at only 1.82kg, lightness doesn’t mean weakness.
The 6-cell battery raises the V131 at a slight angle which aids in cooling and makes typing more comfortable. On power saver mode it lasted just under seven hours. That’s less than the claimed nine and a half, but still impressive. The full-sized SIM card slot is hidden away behind the battery, which is easy to remove.
Backing up the 3G modem there’s 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet, so the V131 will stay connected wherever it goes. Port variety is also plentiful, including two USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI port, an SD card reader, a VGA port, a USB 2.0 power share port and a headphone jack.
Physically the V131 is just as impressive as its larger Vostro brothers, and the brushed aluminium surfaces are eye-catching and sturdy. The palm rests do flex a little as does the bottom of the screen, but in general this feels like a notebook that’ll take plenty of wear and tear. One odd feature is a magnet in the right palm rest that helps the V131 stay securely closed. We found the hinges are so strong already that it feels like overkill.
The matte 13.3in (1,366 x 768 resolution) screen had good colour depth but a fairly average viewing angle. The webcam worked nicely, and is certainly enough for business use together with the integrated microphone - although, as expected, the speakers were tinny. The chiclet keyboard has very short travel, but as long as you have a reasonably light touch it’s comfortable to type on. As well as the normal keys there are three function buttons in the top right to access system settings, Dell support and a user-programmable button.
Aside from the fingerprint reader, dedicated function buttons, environmental standards and strong build quality the V131 doesn’t include any other business features, such as a Trusted Platform Module for encryption or a vPro processor to make remote access of the V131 easier. The price reflects the omissions, but that’s why we consider the V131 semi-business only.
Despite the lack of some high-end business features, the pricing and build quality still make it a really compelling product. It’s got the specs needed to actually get work done and connectivity that some larger notebooks struggle to match. This is definitely one of the better ultraportables currently available.Available from Dell, retailing for $1,399
.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)