Wifey wanted a machine of her own to fulfill her computing needs. Her work notebook is a hulking 14.1″ Acer machine, which is really too heavy for her to carry to-and-from the office everyday. I suggested she get something a little smaller, without sacrificing screen real-estate and with a proper keyboard, as she wants to do her work on it too besides just web-surfing. So I guess netbooks are out.
I did a little research and it wasn’t long before I came across the Dell Vostro v13. A 13″ light ultraportable with a thin profile meant for office use. One look and I told myself, this would really make a nice notebook for her.
The Vostro v13 looks like the offspring of the Adamo, which is Dell’s latest premium notebook line. It comes in a variety of flavours, from the low end Celeron 743 to the higher end SU7300. We opted to get the lowest configuration setting, since she doesn’t really need much horsepower anyway. I’ll probably head over to my favourite PC parts shop and shove in a 2GB ram stick in there, something that manufacturers usually overprice a lot on. The lowest end also comes without a Windows license, which is also fine, since I’ve got one.
The thing that impresses me most is how sturdy it feels despite being thin. As you can see, it’s much thinner than the MacBook. It’s like a bar of chocolate and I can bite it off. The metallic brushed aluminium feels very sexy, even more so than my MacBook. Now I really want a MacBook Pro for its aluminium enclosure! I would expect such a thin notebook to be light, but it certainly feels heavy for its size. It’s not as heavy as the MacBook of course, but I feel as though it’s much denser because of its weight.
I love the 1366×768 LED display on the 13.3″ screen, and the full-sized keyboard has keys big enough for those with massive german sausage fingers like mine. Typing is not a very WOW affair, but the “clickiness” is pleasurable enough for extended typing sessions. Touchpad is bigger than what I usually see on most notebooks too, which will be a boon to those who has yet to experience the MacBook’s awesome trackpad. But I like the fact that it is a bit recessed into the notebook, so it’s easy for me to scroll by using the sides as a guide (again, for the MacBook trackpad-illiterate).
There are a few caveats about the notebook though. I have yet to find the perfect notebook. Or maybe there’s no such thing. Then again, I have yet to own a MacBook Pro. With the aluminium unibody constuction, the backlit chiclet keyboard, the glowing Apple logo. But I’m digressing here. Where was I? On yeah, caveats! The first thing I winced when I booted it up is when I press the power button. It’s really not up to par with the rest of the machine. It’s a bit too “mushy” for my liking. I prefer a sturdier power button with a nice “clicky” feel to it. Because of the mushiness, one may accidentally press down on the sides as well, and I’m just scared that it will crack one day. Thin ultraportables like this usually have massive battery life, but the v13 somehow misses the mark. Similar offerings from the Asus UL series and the Acer Timeline series push the battery life to ridiculous heights, which I find the v13 taking a backseat. Speaking of the battery, it is not user-replaceable. Dell decided to go all Apple on the battery and shoved in into the internals, presumably to save space and maintain that super sexy thin look. It’s not a big deal for me, since I’m not a fan of carrying batteries anyway. All my toys which have non-user-replaceable batteries (MacBook, iPhone, DSLite, PS3 controllers, etc) have yet to die on me when I use it. But some may find this an anathema for them. There is also no feedback as to whether or not it is plugged into the wall. There are no light indicators on the notebook to tell the user that it is charging properly. There is an LED indicator on the charging cable, but it simply indicates whether the adapter is plugged, not the notebook. The only way one can tell is by booting and going into the OS. I know it may sound silly, but this seems like a big oversight on Dell’s part. Updated: Oops! Saw that the light indicator is at the front left, right at the corner. Just managed to find it!
At the end of the day, what matters is that wifey is very happy with it. Just the perks of having a geek for a husband.
Going off-track: This marks the first post where I’m trying out the “more” tag.