The Good Offering excellent battery life and processing power in a compact, sturdy design, the Dell Vostro V131 improves on last year's version while keeping a clean look.
The Bad Other 13-inch laptops are even thinner and lighter; the matte screen and mono speaker are weak for a laptop this size.
The Bottom Line The 2011 Dell Vostro V131 succeeds at being an affordable and powerful update to the 13-inch small-business laptop, adding much-needed battery life and processing boosts. At its lower-priced configurations, it's worth a look for budget shoppers.
Dell Vostro V131
Most companies strive to create distinctions between their small-business and consumer laptop lines, sometimes to the point of creating whole new designs that aren't available otherwise. Most of these business laptops aren't of much interest to the average person, but sometimes a sleek design and a good price make a laptop appealing to nearly anyone. 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 Vostro V131 addresses both processor and battery life, with new second-gen standard-voltage Core i-series processors and much better battery performance, while keeping an aggressive price.
Granted, $499 as a starting price for the Vostro V131 doesn't land you a Core i-series CPU; instead, you get a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron ULV 847 processor, which we'd recommend avoiding at all costs. Most people (us included) would choose the $599 model instead, which bumps up to a more reasonable second-gen Intel Core i3-2310M CPU. Our $799 version has a Core i5-2410M processor.
In the field of thin 13-inch laptops, it's hard to find good ones for less than $700. For $599, this slim 13-incher could be a perfect solution for some. At higher prices, it's likely that you'll find equally good options elsewhere.
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