Dell Vostro 1520 notebook
This 15.4in Dell laptop has built-in 3G connectivity
- Built-in 3G modem, good performance, relatively light, good battery life
- Doesn't have a digital video output port, we couldn't connect to the 3G network in our area
Dell's Vostro 1520 is a 15.4in notebook with a 9-cell battery, yet it weighs a reasonable 2.7kg. With a built-in 3G modem and a powerful CPU, it's a great workhorse for the business user who wants a mid-sized notebook that's comfortable to work on.
Price$ 2,048.00 (AUD)
The Dell Vostro 1520 is a 15.4in notebook that can be described as a workhorse. It's primarily aimed at business users, so it doesn't have a lot of fancy ports such as HDMI and eSATA, but it does have lots of network connectivity options.
Not only does this laptop offer Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n dual-band wireless networking (Intel WiFi Link 5300) and Bluetooth, you also get a built-in 3G modem (Dell Wireless 5530 HSPA Mobile Broadband Minicard Modem) and SIM card reader. The SIM card reader is located in the battery compartment and according to Dell it is unlocked, so it can be used with the provider of your choice. However, Dell only provides official support for Vodafone accounts. Unfortunately, we didn't have much luck getting a connection. The Vostro 1520 recognised SIM cards from Vodafone and Telstra, and gave us the option to choose a preferred network from those carriers, but it failed to actually make a connection despite multiple attempts.
Under the hood, the Dell Vostro 1520 has an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 CPU, which runs at 2.4GHz. It supplies enough grunt for everyday office applications. This was shown in our WorldBench 6 benchmark where it scored 96, which is almost as good as a laptop with a 2.53GHz CPU. It's also powerful enough to run 3D rendering programs (it recorded a relatively zippy 1min 15sec in Blender 3D) as well as encoding tasks (it took 1min 10sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s in iTunes). You also get 2GB of DDR2 RAM, integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS graphics and a 250GB, 5400rpm hard drive (Seagate ST9250424ASG). The hard drive can be encrypted with the supplied software from EMBASSY systems, which works in conjunction with the trusted platform module (TPM) in the BIOS (this feature can also be found in the Dell Vostro 1720).
The screen has a native resolution of 1280x800, so icons and text appears large on the screen, and it doesn't have a glossy coating, which means it will be easy to read in a well-lit office. The vertical viewing angle of the screen is a little narrow: the screen can look either too pale or too dark depending on the angle and how you are sitting.
Despite being a business notebook, multimedia features haven't been omitted; you still get media player buttons across the top of the keyboard. They're touch buttons, but we found that the volume controls required pressure to activate. There are speakers either side of the keyboard. Although they aren't powerful, they are useful for watching videos and casual music listening.
The keyboard has full-sized keys and feels good to type on for the most part, but the keys could use a little less resistance. The touchpad is large and responsive, but it comes with 'drag lock' enabled, which can be annoying during drag-and-drop operations and when browsing the Web. It can be disabled through the Dell Touchpad Settings in the Mouse applet in the Control Panel.
Taking the Dell Vostro 1520 out on the road isn't difficult. It weighs 2.7kg, which is reasonable for a 15.4in notebook with a 9-cell battery, and it has dimensions of approximately 358x280x45mm (WxDxH). Its battery lasted 3hr 25min in our video rundown test, which we conduct with the screen brightness all the way up and the wireless radio enabled. It's a good result for a 15.4in laptop such as this one.
The notebook feels quite solid and its underside doesn't get too warm even after it has been running for a few hours; some heat does travel up through the palm rest. The screen's hinges are stiff and hold the LCD panel firmly in place at your desired angle. The bezel is 1cm on the thick left and right edges, but 2.4cm thick at the top in order to accommodate the webcam and the antennas from the wireless networking, Bluetooth and 3G modules.
The Vostro 1520 lacks niceties such as a keyboard light or Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, and it also doesn't have HDMI or eSATA ports, but it does have FireWire, four USB 2.0 ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot, a fingerprint reader and good networking features. These features, along with its good battery life and reasonable weight, can be bought for a competitive price of $2048.
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 2 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 3 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
- 4 Microsoft Surface Book review: The verdict on Microsoft's first notebook
- 5 Telstra Wi-Fi 4GX Advanced III review: Testing the world's first 600Mbps wireless hotspot
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft's pricey Surface Book is getting stomped by the ancient Surface Pro 3
- Alienware's tiny Alpha gaming PC gets bigger muscles... in the US
- Why Apple's new MacBook Pro needs more than just one USB-C port
- Asus ROG teases a massive gaming notebook that outperforms Titan X
- Chromebooks beat Mac notebooks 1.4-to-1 in U.S.
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCProduct Solution DesignerVIC
- CCNational Project CoordinatorNSW
- FTProject Manager - Insurance experience neededNSW
- CCArchitect (AWS)NSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (J2EE/JAVA/SQL) 160621/AP/082Asia
- CCAnalyst Programmer - C# FocusNSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/SQL) 160617/AP/623Asia
- FTProject CoordinatorQLD
- CCIT Assistant (Office Automation/Windows) 160615/ITA/922Asia
- CCSenior Business AnalystACT
- FTTechnical/Solutions ArchitectNSW
- CCPMO AnalystVIC
- CCProgrammer (IT Security/Website Administration) 160711/P/565Asia
- FTSolution Architect - Data/ InformationVIC
- CCLead UX DesignerNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst - Asset ManagementNSW
- CCSystems Engineer | Experimental military technology | NV1ACT
- CCSenior Java DeveloperACT
- FTNetwork Engineer | Canberra | NV1 NV2 clearance | Defence projectsNSW
- CCApplication Support Analyst and Database AdministratorNSW
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- CCWAN Contract ManagerACT
- CCSenior Applications SpecialistQLD
- FTAppian Developer/ArchitectVIC
- CCMulesoft Integration DeveloperWA