Monday, March 7, 2011

Dell Vostro V130 The Glamorous Life

Laptop Review: Dell Vostro V130 specification condition
Don't let the stunning display, great speakers, and glossy finish fool you: The Dell Vostro V130 is intended for business users, although you don't have to be a business user to appreciate this 13.3-inch lightweight's combination of power, understated elegance, and multimedia delight.

The only obvious gotcha, aside from a touchpad glitch on my test machine, is the battery's brief runtime -- two hours in my multimedia-heavy tests. Dell offers no high-capacity/extended-life alternatives, and the battery is nonremovable so you can't carry a spare. So if that's a concern, stop here -- but otherwise, the Vostro V130 is one impressive slimline.

Choices Galore

The 3.5-pound Vostro is available in several models, which Dell's Web site makes incredibly -- bordering on impossibly -- difficult to tell apart without having to click through each one. By way of a cheat sheet, the Ubuntu V130 pairs an Intel Celeron processor with Ubuntu Linux and starts at $429; the Essential model has the same CPU and Windows 7 Home Premium for $558; the Enhanced steps up to a Core i3 processor starting at $628; and the top of the line, with the odd name "New," boasts a Core i5 CPU for $753.

Laptop Review: Dell Vostro V130 new inovasion from dell in picture pic photo image gallery
Options include going from 2GB of DDR3 memory to 4GB ($70); from Win 7 Home Premium to Professional 64-bit ($70); and from the regular Aberdeen Silver to a Lucerne Red finish ($40). My test unit was an Enhanced (Core i3) Vostro V130 with all these extras, bringing the price to a reasonable $808 with a 320GB hard drive.

As with most machines in this size and weight class, there's no internal optical drive. Dell offers an 8x USB external DVD±RW drive for $80 (and you can get good third-party USB optical drives -- and you should have one in your bag of tricks, anyway -- for under $50).

The support options are surprisingly reasonable, with one year's next-business-day on-site service included in the price and three years' ditto costing $190. Dell's accidental damage service ($99 for three years) covers repair and replacement for drops, spills, surges, and breakages (but excludes theft, loss, and damage due to fire, flood or other acts of nature). That's decent coverage for about $100 per year, though you may want to price-shop -- check with your insurance carrier and third-party offerings like

Dell Vostro V130 The Glamorous Life in computer stuff blog
While easy to carry at 9.1 by 13 by 0.8 inches, the Vostro V130 makes room for a good variety of ports and connectors, led by HDMI as well as VGA video outputs and three USB 2.0 ports (one an eSATA combo port). Both 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are standard, as is a slot for a SIM card for mobile broadband.

A Tired Touchpad

Physically, the Dell feels comfortingly solid. The cover opens quickly and simply -- no latch. Unlike one or two other machines I've tried, the V130 "kept on ticking" when I picked the system up and even shook it slightly -- kudos to the disk protection. Boot-up took just under one minute.

As with all machines I test, I spent several days using it for work and work-like activities -- mostly word processing and Web surfing, opening up dozens of windows in Internet Explorer and Firefox, photo editing using Google Picasa and uploading to Flickr, and plenty of multimedia listening and watching.

The keyboard is full-sized, and, for a notebook keyboard, quite good. (My work involves a lot of typing -- and I'm used to using a curved-format ergonomic keyboard.) It's not as comfortable as the best of the Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards, but it's more than good enough.

The touchpad, oddly, punked out after 10 or so minutes in most sessions and stopped working. Rebooting fixed the problem, but nothing short of rebooting would. (A USB mouse worked fine throughout.) A thread on Dell's support forums says this glitch is fixed by installing the latest Synaptics driver, but it's still annoying.

The 1,366 by 768 display is impressively bright and colorful. I did my best to search out challenging content, from high-def movie trailers to high-res image editing. Everything looked lovely.

And I spent a lot of time listening -- using the Vostro as my office radio with mostly either Pandora or NPR. The sound was, quite frankly, the best of any notebook I've tested to date, good enough that I was happy to listen to it all day.

Given the 4GB of RAM and dual-core, Hyper-Threading Core i3-380UM (1.33GHz, 3MB cache) processor, everything ran without any noticeable hesitation. A better indicator of the raw power in this box is how near-instantly software installs went.

But the Vostro's Achilles' heel, as mentioned, is its battery life. The six-cell battery pack is rated at a skimpy 30 watt-hours; it did deliver the two hours that the Windows Taskbar indicator promised, and it's possible that tweaking the settings (or focusing on office rather than multimedia apps) might stretch another 15 to 30 minutes from it, but there's no way you'll get a half day or more of untethered work. As it is, you've got enough juice for a session at a coffee shop or while waiting for an airplane, but you'll want to pack the AC power brick with you.

That said, if the limited battery capacity isn't a showstopper, I recommend this machine without hesitation, especially if you like to listen to MP3s or Internet audio while you work. It scores well above average for both style and performance.

source : here