March 11, 2011 11:17 am

Flying business class with the Dell Vostro v130

When you think business-class PCs, you think functional. Durable. Powerful. Boring. Dell, however, wants you to think “beautiful”. That’s the vision behind the strikingly thin, surprisingly gorgeous Dell Vostro v130. Part of Dell’s “Vostro” small business lineup of PCs, the Vostro v130 is powerful (Core i5 ULV processor, 4GB RAM, Intel HD graphics, 500GB 7200rpm drive), light (only 3.5lbs) and beautiful (just look at it!)…and starts at an amazing $429. Mine, configured with the specs above, runs about $900.

It’s an impressive little PC that stands out from the business PC crowd like a red dress at a black tie affair. Full review below.

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Look and Feel

The Vostro v130 is the follow up to the popular Vostro v13, which itself is a direct descendent of the original Dell Adamo. It’s remarkably thin – only 16.5mm at it’s thinnest point – and weighs 3.5 lbs. These dimensions make it one of the slimmest, lightest PCs in my inventory, which mean it’s a breeze to carry around all day. The weight, or lack thereof, doesn’t equate to flimsy design, though. The Vostro v130 is entirely built from anodized aluminum so it’s very durable and endured a week of bouncing around in my messenger back without so much as a scratch. And the PC is balanced perfectly; you can open the PC with one hand and the main body stays completely still.  Those of you who read the blog frequently know that this is a HUGE selling point to me as it indicates exceptional levels of thoughtfulness though design. Nice work, Dell Industrial Design team!

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Inside, the Vostro v130 looks and feels more like Dell’s enterprise-grade Latitude line than the at-home-in-an-art-gallery Adamo. The keyboard is soft and well sprung and I found typing on the Vostro v130, even for a several hours while writing this review, was comfortable and strain-free. The trackpad had a good feel to it and I found that I was able to move the mouse with a very light touch, which made long bouts of computing easy and fun.

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The v130’s display is one of my favorite features. It’s bright and crisp, and with a 13” 1366 x 768 resolution you’re able to watch HD video on it, but it has a huge advantage over most other laptops of this size and resolution – it has a matte finish that makes it easy to see in bright sunlight. I wish that this option was available on more PCs. Glossy displays are great for video, but if you need to write or work in bright conditions, like outside, near a window, or even near bright halogen indoor lighting, having a non-reflective display means more comfortable work.

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Performance

The Vostro v130 epitomizes the modern PC for me – it’s not only attractive, but fast. Inside is a Core i5 ULV processor, which doesn’t pack as much horsepower as a full voltage i5 (processor WEI scores run in the mid 5’s vs. high 6’s) but was more than enough to get me through the day. I didn’t notice any performance dip despite running Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, IE9 RC, and Microsoft Lync non-stop for most of the test days. Intel HD Integrated graphics perform well, as they do in most Core-powered PCs, and playback was smooth.

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Fundamentals were good too, and I was really pleased with the sleep and wake responsiveness of the 7200rpm drive. Even though it’s a spinning hard drive – you can see my thoughts on HDDs vs. SSDs in our latest “Ben and Ryan Explain” video – it feels faster than average.

Here’s how the Vostro v130 performed in my usual stopwatch tests:

  • Startup (cold boot to desktop): 48.5 seconds
  • Shut down (No apps open, button press to power off): 12 seconds
  • Sleep (lid close to power off): 11 seconds
  • Wake (lid open to desktop): 4 seconds

Despite its thinness Dell managed to pack a fairly large battery into the V130 which results in surprisingly good battery life. I got about 5 hours of solid work time out of my unit, which was plenty for me to get through most days of off-and-on uptime in meetings without carrying my power cord. The battery is internal, but can be easily removed with just a few screws. (NOTE: I intentionally blurred the Windows Product Key using “retouch” in Windows Live Photo  Gallery)

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Final Thoughts

The Dell Vostro v130 is exactly what an SMB-focused PC should be – beautiful and fun enough to eschew the “suit and tie” trend of enterprise PCs, but with enough business DNA to make it look and feel professional to use. And the price is so low that even the most fledgling business can afford to compute in style.

Have a question about these or any other PCs? Post a comment, hit me on Twitter, or Ask Ben Anything via email!