The Dell Vostro V13 is a slim 13-inch laptop that's unlike any ultraportable we've reviewed for a while. The Vostro V13 is built like a tank and oozes the style and aura of a high-end ultraportable laptop--at a surprisingly low price point.
The 13-inch Vostro V13 is essentially a business laptop in the shell of the slim and stylish Dell Adamo. It has a sturdy aluminum body, curved angular edges, and polished exterior which looks and feels very elegant and premium. The Vostro V13's twin metal hinges aren't situated on its spine (where the screen meets the rest of the chassis), but a little inside. This allows the spine to be used as a handle of sorts -- great example of thoughtful design.
Unlike most laptops and netbooks which are top-heavy these days, the Vostro V13 is beautifully balanced -- its screen can be lifted with a mere finger, without it trying to pull the rest of the chassis along the way. Like the razor-thin Sony VAIO X, the Dell Vostro V13 is one of the best examples of laptop product design. The Vostro V13 measures 0.65-inch at its thinnest point and weighs, despite its all-metal chassis, just 1.58-kg -- around 200-300g more than your standard 10 or 12-inch netbook. It's definitely more appealing than a netbook, the Vostro V13, both in terms of looks and performance (as we'll find out).
The Vostro V13 comes with a 13.3-inch LED-backlit display. It supports a widescreen resolution of 1366x768 pixels, has a 16:9 aspect ratio, and best of all the screen is matte in nature -- a rarity to find on laptops these days. Matte screens are generally better for reading text without the nuisance of reflecting things -- the perennial bane of glossy screens. There isn't a hint of gloss anywhere on the Vostro V13. Its screen is evenly lit, offers decent brightness-contrast levels, and very good horizontal viewing angles. Watching movies went off pretty well, too.
Unlike most laptops and netbooks which are top-heavy these days, the Vostro V13 is beautifully balanced -- its screen can be lifted with a mere finger, without it trying to pull the rest of the chassis along the way.
The Vostro V13's keyboard is very similar to what we saw on the Dell Studio XPS 13 laptop. Despite the 13-inch form factor, the Vostro V13's keys are nice and big, tightly packed, and offer just the right amount of tactile feedback -- we would've liked them to be backlit, however. The touchpad is slightly recessed or shallow but as responsive as any we've seen. The twin mouse buttons are firm and don't make a cranky clicking sound while pressed. There's ample palmrest -- made out of metal and not plastic -- to park your hands on while typing on the Vostro V13. The keyboard and touchpad combo is as good as it gets on the Vostro V13.
The Vostro V13 isn't a powerhouse in terms of internal hardware but does well enough. An Intel Celeron M743 1.3-GHz ULV processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 250GB hard drive are good building blocks for a business machine. It doesn't come with a DVD writer and only has two USB ports on the back panel. There's Bluetooth support, Gigabit Ethernet, ExpressCard slot, multicard reader, VGA-out, and audio jacks distributed along the edge and easily accessible on the Vostro V13. One of the USB ports on the back doubles as an eSATA port, which is great for transferring data between an external hard drive. A 1.3MP webcam and microphone are grooved into its top screen beze, and it also bundles in Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 32-bit edition. A drawback for people demanding more battery life out of the Vostro V13 is its sealed chassis: you can't easily remove the bundled six-cell battery and plug in a nine-cell one, for example.
In terms of performance, the Vostro V13 is average. Its WorldBench 6, PC Mark 05 and 3D Mark 06 scores were roughly double than most netbooks, and very similar to the Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T. This is obviously not meant for gaming, but you can watch stutter-free 720p HD videos on the Vostro V13 without any trouble -- 1080p full-HD videos stuttered a few times. I had no trouble multitasking while surfing the Web, listening to music, and transferring a few gigabytes of files in the background. The screen is good for watching movies, and the speakers (situated under the keyboard) are okay for listening to music, nothing great -- plug in headphones and you're fine. The Vostro V13's six-cell battery life lasted a bit under the 2-hour mark in our benchmarks, which is good. Expect close to 4 hours while browsing the Web on a conservative battery plan.
Things get really interesting with the Vostro V13 when it comes down to its price. Our review model, based on the Intel Celeron 1.3-GHz ULV processor, retails for Rs. 36,000 -- which is a steal! But we would recommend the slightly better version which Dell features on their website, which sells for Rs. 37,900 (+taxes).
Sure it has only two USB ports and no DVD writer, but the Dell Vostro V13 is a great option if you want a slim, light, extremely well built, sufficiently powerful laptop with a nice matte screen and a very good keyboard. We highly recommend it for people who aren't fully convinced with some of the compromises of a netbook and who don't want to spend big bucks for a high-end ultraportable.
More on the Dell Vostro V13.