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Hands-on with the new Dell Vostro V130

Dell's thin update to the Vostro V13 adds newer processors to the mix.

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Last year, the Dell Vostro V13 was an affordable small-business laptop surprise, a thin 13-incher that amounted to an affordable Adamo for budget shoppers. Dell's holiday update, the Vostro V130, keeps the same aluminum and magnesium-alloy flat design as the V13, but gives the innards a boost. We have one here at CNET, and we've been trying it out leading up to a forthcoming review.

The V130, like many Dell laptops, comes in a variety of configurations starting affordable and ranging up to the pricey. Our V130 has a Core i5 ULV processor, which runs about half the speed as a standard Core i5 you'd see in a regular laptop. The branding is confusing (the sticker says "Core i5" without making a distinction clear), but the performance is a bit zippier than on a last-gen Core 2 Duo ULV.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The V130's thin, and it's also light: 3.5 pounds, easily gripped in one hand. The matte 13.3-inch screen looks crisp and bright, and the keyboard's pretty comfortable for typing, although the touch pad seems small compared with a MacBook Air.

Though Dell's Web site targets the Vostro V130 for small businesses, there's no reason why this laptop can't be equally good for anyone. The addition of HDMI-out on a rear-facing strip of ports is a small tweak, but a useful one for travelers.

Pricing on the V130 starts very aggressively at $429, which sounds great on paper, but you'll only be getting a Celeron ULV CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and Linux OS. A whopping 21 other configurations are available, climbing at the high end to $1,073 for a Core i5 ULV CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD drive.

At configs costing less than $1,000, the V130 could be a great choice for someone in the market for a super-small optical drive-free laptop. At higher-priced SSD configs, however, some might be tempted to go with the even smaller MacBook Air instead.

Stay tuned for our review, coming later this week.