Dell's Vostro V130 business laptop offers a lot more punch for your pound than its predecessor, the Vostro V13, when it comes to performance, and it now also includes a digital video output. Update: Dell has revamped the V130 with a new processor. See review of the new Dell Vostro V130
The Dell Vostro V130 is well worth a look if you want an ultraportable laptop that's inexpensive, easy to type on and also quite well built. It now runs an Intel Core i5 ultra-low-voltage CPU with decent power for office work and multimedia tasks. It tends to run a little warm and its sealed battery design is also a drawback.
The 13.3in Dell Vostro V130 is the successor to the Dell Vostro V13. The Dell Vostro V130 doesn't look very different to the V13, but on the inside significant changes have been made.
The CPU has been upgraded from an Intel Core 2 Duo ultra-low-voltage model to an Intel Core i5-470UM, which has two cores, Hyper-Threading and runs at a frequency of 1.33GHz. Also fitted are 4GB of DDR3 RAM, an integrated Intel HD graphics adapter and a 7200rpm, 500GB hard drive.
Dell Vostro V130: Performance
It's this processor configuration that makes the Vostro V130 a leap and bound better than the Core 2 Duo–based Vostro V13. Even though the Core 2 Duo-based Vostro V13 ran at 1.3GHz, the 1.33GHz Core i5-based Dell Vostro V130 is a lot more efficient when it comes to processing data.
In the PC World Australia Blender 3D rendering test, the V13 notched up a time of 1 min 47 sec, which is 30 per cent faster than the time taken by the Dell Vostro V130.
In the iTunes MP3 encoding test, the Dell Vostro V130 recorded a time of 1 min 40 sec, which is 60 per cent faster than the V13.
What all this means is that the Dell Vostro V130 will handle productivity applications with ease, and if you were really dedicated, you could also use it for some media creation and encoding work.
A fast 7200rpm, 500GB hard drive is installed in the Dell Vostro V130: it recorded an average transfer rate of 35.33 megabytes per second in our tests, which is an identical rate to that we received from the Vostro V13.
There were no such similarities in the graphics tests, in which the Dell Vostro V130's Intel HD graphics recorded a score of 1153 in 3DMark06, double the score of the Vostro V13 with its Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics.
Dell Vostro V130: Design
While the performance of the unit has improved markedly as the price of the unit has come down, the 13in Dell Vostro V130's design remains the same.
The Dell Vostro V130 has a similar magnesium alloy palm rest to the V13, similar metal hinges, and it has a sealed chassis design in which the battery is trapped and can't be easily replaced. This is one aspect of the Dell Vostro V130's design that we find hard to tolerate, as we like to be able to carry a spare battery on long trips.
But the snugly fitting battery inside the chassis is one of the reasons why Dell has been able to make the Dell Vostro V130 as thin as it is – it's around 20mm thick with the lid closed, and this thickness doesn't vary much from the front to the rear like it does with a MacBook Air, for example, which measures between 3mm and 17mm.
The Dell Vostro V130 tends to get warm after a while. You can use it on your lap for a short time before it starts to warm up and feel uncomfortable.
The heat seems to come primarily from the 7200rpm hard drive, but that could be remedied with the fitting of an optional solid-state drive. There are vents on the rear through which the accumulated heat can escape.
We think the screen on the Dell Vostro V130 could be better. It has a native resolution of 1366x768 and a LED backlight, but its poor contrast and colours make it less ideal for scrutinising photos and videos.
The keyboard of the Dell Vostro V130 is comfortable to use. The only part of its layout that we don't like is the column of Page Up/Page Down, Home and End keys, which reside to the right of the Enter and Backspace keys. This is similar to the design of the Fujitsu LifeBook SH530 (the Dell is a little better in that the Delete key is placed in the top-right corner).
The touchpad is reasonably large (80x44mm), and it has soft left- and right-click buttons, but its multitouch software wasn't reliable in our tests.
After we enabled multitouch scrolling, the gesture would sometimes cause the pad to stop responding but the buttons would continue to work. We had to reboot the Dell Vostro V130 just to get it working again.
Dell Vostro V130: Connectivity
Around the edges of the Dell Vostro V130 you'll find almost nothing; it's at the rear where all of the ports make their home.
You get three USB 2.0 ports (one shared with the eSATA port), VGA, gigabit ethernet, and there’s also now an HDMI port. One of our criticisms of the Vostro V13 was its lack of a digital video port, so we're glad this has been rectified on the Dell Vostro V130.
There is no built-in optical drive, nor is there an expansion slot (unlike on the Vostro V13), but you do get an SD card reader on the right side of the unit. A webcam, Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi are also present.
Conveniently – especially for business users – the Dell Vostro V130 can also be fitted with a built-in 3G modem (Dell Wireless 5540 HSPA Mini-Card Network Adapter) and a SIM slot is located at the front of the unit.
To insert a SIM card, you'll have to first find a thin screwdriver or pin with which to pry the slot open.
Dell's Mobile Broadband Manager software was installed on our system; however, we weren't able to test the 3G capability of the laptop in Australia as our review unit shipped with UK Vodafone profiles that we couldn't change.
Dell Vostro V130: Battery life
The sealed 6-cell battery inside the Dell Vostro V130 lasted just 2hr 7min in the PC world Australia rundown test, in which we disable power management, maximise brightness, enable Wi-Fi and loop an Xvid-encoded video.
This is a few minutes better than what the 1.3GHz Core 2 Duo–based V13 recorded in the same test, but it's a little short of the 2hr 25min that the 13in Fujitsu LifeBook Sh530 recorded, and shorter again than the 2hr 51min of the Samsung Q330-JS03AU.
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March 15 2011 update: Dell Vostro V130 (Core i5-470UM) review