The 13.3-inch Dell Vostro V131 is a solid small-to-medium business notebook with exceptional battery life, a backlit keyboard, a business-friendly matte display, and plenty of power to handle any office productivity task you throw at it. Keep reading to find out if this is the right notebook to purchase for your office.
Build and Design
The Dell Vostro V131 has a clean, business-casual design wrapped in black surfaces and silver accents. The notebook is mostly encased in matte, but has a few glossy silver lines around the touchpad and keyboard. The lid is a bit more stylish; it's mostly silver and has a design that is close to glitter in appearance. There is a trademark Dell logo in the center, also glossy silver, and you can see the screen hinges on the lid.
It's one of the thinnest notebooks I've reviewed to date, at .63 of an inch thick if measuring the thickness from the front and .83 of an inch if measuring from the back. It's a bit thicker from the back because the battery is of a higher capacity and it sticks out; but that's OK, we'll take more battery life over a thinner form factor. Its full dimensions are 12.96 x 0.63 (F)-0.83 (B) x 9.36 inches and it weighs 4.03 pounds.
The build quality is about average for a small-to-medium business notebook, with a few weak spots. The chassis backbone is much more solid in some places than it is in others. For example, when the palmrests are pressed down upon, they hardly flex; when the keyboard is pressed down upon from the center it folds easily. The notebook also bends inward slightly when you twist the corners. Ripples form on the display when you bend the corners of the display; it seems cheaply made. In the end, the design is stylish and works for business purposes; while the build quality is average and lacking a harder structure, even if it is brushed with aluminum on the outside.
Users can reach the RAM and hard drive by removing one screw on the bottom panel and pushing the panel toward the back. That sounds easy in theory, but it took two of our editors and a lot of innovation to actually remove that panel (even though it has tiny springs that were supposed to help with its removal). We had to pry a credit card along the panel's crevice and press with so much force that we were afraid we might break something in the process. Although the memory and hard drive may be upgraded after removing it, since we were afraid of harming the laptop while we got to the hardware, we recommend purchasing the final hardware that you'd like to have rather than purchasing and installing it later. Up to 6GB of memory can be installed in total.
Ports and Features
The V131 has a very good array of ports. It not only has one USB 3.0 port, but two; it also has HDMI, an 8-in-1 card reader, one USB 2.0, and VGA. I would've liked to see another USB 2.0 port - or at least a docking station port so users could have the option of more. Other than that, some potential buyers might be put off by the lack of a SmartCard reader, but this notebook does have a fingerprint reader - so that might replace it in some terms, such as general notebook security. The notebook is also missing a DisplayPort - which may or may not be a big deal because it has VGA and HDMI instead.
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