Dell Vostro 1310 Review: Keeping Road Warriors in Mind

True to the promises Dell made last summer when it introduced its Vostro line of desktops and notebooks, the company continues to update and expand the family of PCs designed specifically for small business tech buyers. The Dell Vostro 1310 is thinner and lighter than previous Vostro notebooks, and it’s more in tune with what a daily traveler needs out on the road.

Unlike previous models, which used 14.1- or 15.4-inch screens more suited to desk duty, the Vostro 1310 employs a 13.3-inch wide-screen LCD that has become the display of choice for road-going pros. It allows for a more comfortable viewing experience than the 12-inch (or smaller) screens found on many “ultra-portable” laptops, while still keeping the size and weight manageable for daily travel.

Attractive Design and Features

Weighing about 4.5 pounds, the Vostro 1310 is easy to slip into a bag or tote around the office. Its angular chassis sports a glossy lid with a black metallic-flake automotive finish that lends visual interest while still being subtle enough not to draw stares at a client meeting.

Flip open the lid, and you’ll find a roomy, comfortable keyboard. A responsive touchpad makes for smooth mouse control, and the mouse buttons are easy to press while also delivering the right amount of tactile and audible feedback. We also appreciate the touch-sensitive multimedia and volume control keys above the keyboard, which makes it easy to adjust the volume or switch tracks or chapters on a CD or DVD. (A mute button would have been nice, though.) Certain models include a 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the screen, ideal for videoconferencing, video chats and even quick snapshots.

 The Dell Vostro 1310
The Dell Vostro 1310 delivers sharp looks and plenty of features for a bargain price.

The 13.3-inch screen’s 1,280×800 resolution makes for crisp, readable text. The screen has a matte finish, not the mirror-like glossy surface that has become the norm in recent years. While the matte coating diminishes the vibrancy of images somewhat, it also minimizes the glare and reflections that plague glossy screens.

One weak point we found, however, is the Vostro 1310’s underpowered, low-quality monaural speaker. Sound quality is tinny and thin, and the volume is adequate only for one or two listeners; if you plan to present to a group around a conference table with the Vostro 1310, bring external speakers.

We’re happy to see an integrated fingerprint reader that you can use to prevent unauthorized people from accessing the machine’s hard drive. Simply use the included software to register your fingerprints, and when Windows boots it will ask you to swipe your finger to log on. It’s an extra layer of protection for your data that we feel any business laptop should offer.

Speaking of extra data protection: The hard drive is equipped with an accelerometer that parks the hard drives heads should the device sense the machine is falling. That keeps the heads from coming in contact with the platter, which is a leading cause of irrecoverable data loss.

Another trick feature is the slot-loading multi-format DVD burner. Like the CD player in your car’s dashboard, there’s no tray that pops out, you just slide in the disc. Dell also included all the ports you’re likely to need—except one. You get four USB ports, a FireWire connector, memory card and ExpressCard slots, a VGA-out port and a wired LAN jack to augment the integrated Wi-Fi. Oddly, however, Dell opted not to include a good old modem jack. So if you sometimes find yourself in motels that just offer dial-up connectivity, you’ll have to purchase and carry an external USB modem.

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