Last year Dell launched its small business orientated Vostro brand, but at the time its laptop line consisted entirely of repurposed Inspiron machines. This may have sufficed in the short term but if large businesses could benefit from purpose designed laptops in the Latitude range, why not small businesses as well? This was clearly the view taken by Dell and earlier this year it launched a new range of bespoke laptops for its Vostro line.
This new line includes the Vostro 1310, a 13.3in portable laptop and the subject of our review today. This form factor has become incredibly popular over the last year, a trend fuelled largely by another of Dell's laptops, the excellent XPS M1330. It's a great form factor, allowing for weights around 2kg or less without sacrificing too much in terms of screen or keyboard size. This makes it relatively comfortable for long sessions without being too heavy to carry around every day - or at least that's the theory, does the 1310 deliver on this ideal?
Aesthetically, the 1310 is everything you might expect from a "business" laptop. Finished entirely in black, its only attempt at flair is the glossy black section of the lid and around the edges. Otherwise it's all solid matte black plastic and though it doesn't make the 1310 a very exciting machine to behold, it does make it strong and durable. This makes it a good choice for the road-bound sales rep or home office worker, who needs a simple and long lasting machine for both in or out of the office - it might even be a great option for a student, too.
Another by product of this design is that it's cheap to make and this saving is passed onto the customer. Our sample specification of a 2.1GHz T8100 Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, 160GB 5400rpm hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, 1.3-Megapixel camera and a six-cell battery will set you back just £575 exc. VAT (£675 inc.), a very handsome set of components for the price.
Moreover, if you opt for the cheapest dual-core CPU and do away with the WebCam, you're looking at just £420 before tax, and £493 after it. This is all with integrated Intel X3100 graphics and though an nVidia 8400M GS is an option, it's hard to see why anyone purchasing such a machine would need it.
Any price will also include a standard One Year Basic Warranty, though unlike those on consumer notebooks this is a Next Business Day Onsite package rather than Collect & Return. This can naturally be extended to two, three or even four years, or you can upgrade to a ProSupport package. This is quite an expensive upgrade but does give you a few advantages, such as the ability to bypass "basic troubleshooting" (i.e. "have you tried turning it off and on"), faster escalation and Microsoft OS and application support. If you're very short on IT nous this might be worthwhile, but others should find the basic warranty sufficient provided all you need support for is hardware failure.