Best Mini Laptop Computers – Dell Vostro V131
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Today we talk about the Dell Vostro V131, the revision which came out towards the end of last year. This is a stylish and svelte notebook that comes with more than decent hardware components and fixes the main problem of the previous model, the battery life. Available with an attractive Lucerne Red finish for the aluminum chassis, the V131 has a cool lid which is nice to touch, plus we also appreciate that it resists to smudges and fingerprints.
The lid of this 13-inch laptop is offset by the magnesium alloy strip which has a black matte finish and it runs on the V131’s front lip. Right in the middle of the lid is the chromed logo of the company, while on the magnesium alloy rear that has a black matte finish there’s a Vostro logo. Once you open the laptop you will notice that the finish is a little bit more toned down since it has a gray keyboard which is being surrounded by the black matte deck.
Both the keyboard and the touchpad (with the mouse buttons) are bordered by the slim chrome strips, while the bottom of the screen bezel holds another chromed Dell logo. Wrapping around the laptop is a thin red border, while above the keyboard you will have access to several buttons for Dell Support Center, Windows Mobility Center, Dell Instant Launch and power. Below the keyboard Dell has installed the fingerprint scanner.
The Dell Vostro V131 measures 12.9 x 9.4 x 0.6 – 0.8 inches and it tips the scales at four pounds, which makes it not too heavy or too big for a 13-inch laptop, but we’ve seen more svelte systems in this category. Even so, you won’t have any issues putting the laptop in a regular messenger bag and take it along with you on your trips.
It has been fitted with an island-style keyboard that manages to be very spacious and large as it spans almost on the entire keyboard deck, with only 0.25 inches on both sides. We are dealing with a backlit keyboard that shows some signs of flex and the spacebar as well as the right Shift key are a little bit smaller than they should be, but this is somewhat understandable in order to make room for the arrow keys. We do appreciate these large square-shaped keys as the typing experience is comfortable even after an extensive use.
Below this great keyboard is an impressive touchpad which measures 3.3 x 1.8 inches that performs nicely when doing multitouch gestures like three-finger flick, pinch to zoom or two-finger rotation / scroll. The touchpad manages to be quite responsive, just like the two mouse buttons sitting below which feel a little bit mushy in our opinion. From the Dell Touchpad Control Panel you will be able to handle all the settings of the touchpad.
The Vostro V131 from Dell comes with a 13.3-inch LED-backlit high definition display that features a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. The viewing angles are quite wide while the brightness level is satisfactory, but the contrast is not as good as it is on those glossy displays. As far as the audio is concerned, the speakers are mounted on the laptop’s front edge and are enhanced by the SRS Premium Voice PRO software.
Let’s move on with our Dell Vostro V131 review and talk about the ports and connectivity features that you get with this 13-inch laptop. The right side is occupied by VGA out, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack, while the left spine holds a USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port and an eight-in-one memory card reader. On the laptop’s rear you will have access to the secure lock slot and the power jack.
Dell has also installed a high definition webcam which is capable of taking still shots and recording videos at a maximum resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. The images grabbed by the webcam manage to be quite clear and with a more than decent level of detail. This webcam comes bundled with the Dell Webcam Central.
The Dell Vostro V131 has a second-generation Intel Core i5-2410M processor part of Intel’s previous Sandy Bridge platform. This CPU runs at 2.30 GHz and works together with 6GB of DDR3 memory which allows the system to score about 7,700 in PCMark Vantage. For storage it comes with a speedy 500GB Serial Ata hard drive that runs at a speed of 7,200 rpm and can boot the Professional version of Windows 7 (64-bit edition) in approximately 50 seconds which is a great result for a laptop of this kid.
This certainly isn’t a laptop built to do serious gaming as it comes only with an integrated graphics chip in the form of the Intel HD 3000. Even so, this built-in GPU is capable of handling casual games and can also do 1080p HD video streaming without any problems. If you are a fan of World of Warcraft, you should know that the Dell Vostro V131 can play it at the 720p resolution at a decent frame rate of 40 FPS but to get this speed you’ll have to lower some of the graphics settings. With the settings turned to maximum, the laptop can play WoW at only 16 FPS which is unplayable.
As we were saying at the beginning of the review, one of the biggest differences between this model and its predecessor is in the battery department. Instead of the integrated battery that the old model had, the revised version comes with a removable unit which can last for more than six hours if you run the LAPTOP Battery Test which as most of you know consists of surfing the Internet over a wireless connection. This performance is more than double in comparison to the previous model. However, even though Dell has made some serious improvements in the battery department, there are several other models in this segment that are capable of lasting longer in the same conditions, such as the Acer TimelineX 3830TG which can survive for almost seven hours, while the Toshiba Portege R835 will run this test for about six and a half hours.