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Dell Vostro V130 review: Dell Vostro V130

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MSRP: $973.00

The Good Slim and lightwight; clean, simple design; decent display.

The Bad You'll have to pay extra for a non-Starter version of Office; mediocre battery life; no optical drive.

The Bottom Line The 13.3-inch Dell Vostro V130 is a decent business laptop that offers a pleasant design, good build quality and workmanlike performance. Its battery life is average, though.

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7.5 Overall

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Can't chat now, we're booked up with power brunches and vertical integration until end of play. You see, the Dell Vostro V130 has made us come over all business-like -- it's a slim, light, 13.3-inch laptop aimed at office types. Like most Dell kit, it's available in loads of different configurations, but our review sample comes with an Intel Core i5 processor and will set you back about £530. So is this laptop a real self-starter, or is it all sizzle and no steak?

First impressions count

The first thing you'll notice about the V130 is that it looks boring. The flat, grey finish on the lid -- it's also available in a more cheerful red -- with matte black highlights doesn't exactly get our hearts racing, and neither does the plain black interior. But looking closer reveals a few niceties. For instance, there's some chrome edging around the trackpad and, when you pick the laptop up, you'll notice it's really thin.

To be precise, it's about 18mm thick, so it's definitely slim enough to slide into your satchel. It weighs around 1.6kg, and feels very light in the hand, so it would be comfortable to lug around all day.

Better still, the laptop's remarkably sturdy. We didn't notice much flex in the screen or the chassis. It doesn't feel like a laptop that would fall apart at the first little bump.

The screen is set slightly forwards from the back of the laptop, leaving a protruding section at the very back. It's a design we've seen on other Dell machines, such as the Mini 1012 netbook. We like it, although we don't think everyone will be a fan.

The battery is sealed inside the laptop, which makes for a cleaner design. Unfortunately, it also means you won't be able to switch the battery for a spare if you need to. 

Matte of the day

The 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which makes everything look pleasantly sharp. The screen has a matte, rather than glossy, coating, so you won't be bothered by annoying reflections while you're using the laptop. Using the V130 outdoors in the harsh glare of the sun is a definite possibility too -- something that's more or less impossible with many shinier laptops.

We know what you're thinking: 'Why doesn't every manufacturer use matte screens then?' Well, there is one downside. Matte displays often look less colourful and vibrant than their glossy counterparts. But the V130 doesn't suffer from this problem too much. We've certainly seen our fair share of brighter, more colourful panels, but this one isn't bad at all. It's fine for most business uses, like sending emails and Web browsing, and videos and pictures don't look too shabby either, so a spot of slacking off with YouTube will be all the more enjoyable.

The trackpad isn't especially big, but both its surface and buttons are responsive. The keyboard is well laid out, but, while each key is quite large, there's no gap between each individual button, unlike on most new laptops. We find that having spaces between the keys reduces the chances of making typos. Still, typing at speed on this machine is definitely possible.

Port ability

The port line-up is decent. There's a multi-format card reader; three USB ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA port; HDMI and VGA outputs; and an Ethernet jack. The laptop also offers a couple of 3.5mm sockets for your headphones and a microphone.

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The rear of the chassis juts out. We like this. You may not.

All the important ports are ferreted away around the back of the laptop, rather than down the sides. At first, we were quite unsure about this layout -- after all, who wants to peep around the back every time they plug in a USB stick? But it does make sense if the laptop is going to be stationary most of the time, as many business laptops are. If you're going to leave this laptop on your desk plugged into all sorts of bits and bobs, you'll be glad the cables are stuck around the back. 

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