We're not sure whether Dell believes it's 10 times better or not, but the Vostro V130 is the successor to the Vostro V13, which was a thin and attractive business laptop that suffered from a lack of USB ports and a non-removable battery.
The V130 is a repositioning, reflecting how technology has changed. While it still has the non-removable battery of the V13, the Vostro V130 loses the ExpressCard 34 slot, but gains an additional USB port, making for a total of three. Also new is HDMI out, a Core i5 U470 @ 1.33GHz, 500GB HDD, 4GB RAM and the fact that it runs on Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. It still has the VGA out, eSATA port, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n, Bluetooth, headphone and microphone jacks and SD card reader from the V13, and manages to look nearly identical from the outside.
This isn't a bad thing: at 1.59kg and a maximum thickness of 19.7mm, the Vostro is a reasonably portable laptop for something that features a 13.3-inch, 1366x768 screen. This isn't as svelte as the MacBook Air nor as sexy, but it's more highly featured. The MacBook's major hardware advantage is its GeForce 320M — Vostro users will be on Intel HD graphics only. For a business-focused laptop this is fine, any more is likely overkill.
Business also means matte dominates over gloss, the only glossy areas being the strip around the touch pad, under the monitor that houses the status lights, and the shiny Dell logos. The screen is also pleasingly matte, making it more usable outdoors, although its colour temperature is disturbingly cool, with everything appearing too blue. Being a laptop, you're not given the controls to adjust this.
The back lid comes in silver, but if you'd like red it'll set you back another AU$15.40. Considering the starting price of AU$899, this probably isn't too much of a hit, but keep in mind that this is for the Core i3 380UM, 2GB RAM, 320GB model — our review sample came in at AU$1099.
The last Vostro we reviewed was a single core machine, so it comes as no surprise that the dual-core, quad-thread Core i5 featured in this year's dominated. Intel HD Graphics is a good step up from the GMA years as well, providing a nice boost all around, with 3DMark06 scoring 1148, a good step up, but still not enough to really render any mid-to-recent 3D games playable. This is a business machine through and through, with the PCMark05 score of 4166 being more than competent for general office tasks.
With all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum and an XviD file played back full screen, the Vostro's battery lasted one hour, 35 minutes; a fairly poor showing for a machine with Intel graphics. This is an intense test — casual use would see this lengthen dramatically.
It seems the battery hasn't received an upgrade from the original V13, and thanks to the extra hardware suffers further. For a non-removable battery, it doesn't even begin to approach the longevity of the MacBook Air, although it is a heck of a lot cheaper and comes with more options.
We still like the Vostro as a portable business machine, and the new upgrades make it more capable than before. It's just a shame about the battery life.