Dell Vostro V13 Hands On: Bruce Wayne's Laptop

Magnesium alloy. Aluminum. Zinc. That's what Dell's Vostro V13 is built with. It's as thin as Dell's primo Adamo at 0.65 inches, but it weighs less, 3.5 pounds. Yet somehow, it's $450.

Well, part of the somehow is that the default $450 configuration uses a Celeron processor and comes with Ubuntu. You don't play in Windows land 'til you hit $600, and don't reach ULV Core 2 Duo brains—which ain't exactly heavy duty—until you drop $650.

The V13 is a collision of high end—the design, angled and thin, heavily echoing the original Adamo's silhouette, and build quality, as sturdy as any non-unibody laptop we've tried to bend—and low rent—the keyboard is straight off Dell's budget Inspiron line and well, I already told you what's inside (there's other spec sparseness as well, like 2GB RAM, VGA out and 2 USB ports, one of which is a combo eSATA number). The 13.3-inch, LED-backlit, anti-glare display is nice enough though, at a resolution of 1366x768. The 6-cell sealed battery is rated for 4 hours and 42 minutes, according to Dell, but expect less actually using it, obviously.

Still, at $650, let alone $450—netbook level—you expect some compromise, and if it wasn't at the expense of the design and materials, it had to cut somewhere. (Conversely, you can buy raging monsters from Asus, filled with blistering silicon, but it's powering machines that are ugly, bloated plastic.) Un-compromise is expensive, but the V13 straddles the line fairly skillfully, erring on the side that most don't, and that's something that's commendable. If the Adamo was Batman's laptop, this more human and vulnerable rendition for suits is Bruce Wayne's.

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[Dell]