Hands on with the Dell Vostro V131: A tiny business laptop you just might want to buy

Dell's slim 13-inch Vostro update is meant for business, but can it be your perfect budget laptop, too? We go hands-on.

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Business laptops are a different breed. Most consumers never see the average business laptop in any store, and business laptops are often created with completely different designs than consumer lines. We don't understand why, especially since companies like Apple don't bother with distinctions, but sometimes a business laptop comes along that's sleek and good enough that most people would want to buy it.

The Dell Vostro V series has been that way for us for well over a year now. These slim ultraportables resemble distant cousins of the Adamo, but start at a fraction of the price. The only catch: the last model we reviewed, the slim Vostro V130, had a battery life that was far too short, and a low-voltage processor that wasn't fast, either.

The new Dell Vostro V131 picks up where the V130 left off, with a nearly identical design, clad in smooth metal and a choice of Silver or a race-car-like Lucerne Red for an extra $30. The V130 weighs 3.6 pounds and has a 13.3-inch screen. It still feels as sturdy and comfortable as the last time we used one. While the touch pad's on the small side, the island-style keyboard is very well-built, and there's plenty of hand and palm room.

But, there's a big difference under the hood: the new Vostros feature full-voltage second-generation Intel processors, matching what's available in most mainstream laptops.

The Vostro V131 has a starting price of $499 with a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron ULV 847 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive, but most people would choose the $599 model instead, which bumps up to a more reasonable second-gen Intel Core i3-2310M CPU. There's also a Core i5-2410M version at $799. RAM can be expanded up to 6GB on most models, and hard-drive space up to 500GB, with no SSD option.

Bells and whistles include an HD Webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, SRS Premium Voice Pro and chat-optimized digital array mics, and optional add-ons, including keyboard backlighting and WiMax, LTE, and 3G broadband connectivity.

As for battery life? Well, we're still testing, but despite the faster processors, the V131's battery life looks to easily surpass the V130's numbers, and even approach the full-day experience that we were looking for. Tune in for our full review soon for full test results and a verdict.

 

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