If you want a durable but stylish laptop, your best bet is often to go for a business-oriented model. As a rule, these have always emphasised form over function, but in recent years they've become more design-conscious too. A prime example of this was Dell's Latitude 13, which sported a premium metal shell, minimalist slim chassis and elegant overall design. The only things that Dell wasn't so hot on was specifications and battery life, so today we're looking at a 13.3in laptop from the US company with far more potential, its Vostro 3350.
This is a versatile laptop with all the connectivity you could want and some serious power under the hood, including options like latest-gen Core i7 CPU, 6GB of RAM, dedicated Radeon graphics and a fast, 750GB hard drive – all without compromising on rugged good looks or battery life.
The Vostro sports a durable and attractive aluminium outer shell, minimalist aesthetic, and edgy lines. The standard silver aluminium finish looks great, of course, but those with a hankering for a little more colour can go for Lucerne Red or Brisbane Bronze finishes on the metal bits instead, and both look very attractive indeed. In a minor but nice touch, your default wallpaper will match your colour of choice.
This Vostro's design is very reminiscent of the older Latitude, just a little bulkier. In fact, with the optional extended 80Wh/5240mAh battery that's attached to our review model, make that a lot bulkier. Frankly, it's stretching to the point of ridiculous the label of 'ultraportable' being attached to this laptop - the additional weight of all that metal adds up to a total weight of just a few grams short of 2.2kg, while the extended battery makes it nigh-on impossible to pack the machine in a normal laptop sleeve or carrying case without removing it first.
Thankfully, the 3350's build quality is just as solid as its weight suggests. The plastics used are thick, matt and very hard-wearing, while the matt aluminium finish feels like it could easily withstand the demands of your average road warrior. In this regard it almost matches up to the best of the rest, and were it not for the flex in its lid, would be as brick-like as the likes of Lenovo's Thinkpad range.
Connectivity is also excellent, and we don't think many will bemoan the lack of an ExpressCard slot here. On the left you'll find twin USB 3.0 ports for hooking up fast external storage and high-bandwidth peripherals, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a tray-loading DVD rewriter with cleverly recessed eject button to prevent accidental opening.
At the front is an SDXC card reader, while to the right you'll find VGA and HDMI for video, headphone plus microphone jacks, and a combined USB 2.0/eSATA port which allows for maximum speed with older external drives. Wireless connectivity is also very well catered for with Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 3.0 and optional mobile broadband.