Dell Vostro 1510
Elegant and fully-featured business notebook with great battery life
- Sturdy and good looking design, slot-loading optical drive, fast performance
- Touch buttons are sometimes slow to respond, doesn't have draft-n wireless networking
This notebook is ideal for business users who want a big screen, good connectivity options and above all, a solidly built unit for the road. There's not much wrong with it at all.
Price$ 1,639.00 (AUD)
Business users want a big screen, plenty of storage space and a fast dual-core CPU; and they're willing to pay for it. That's what Dell has learned from its biggest ever research project into the small business market, and it has incorporated all these things into the Vostro 1510. The Vostro is a complete redesign for the SMB market, and takes into account business users' desire for better looks and more functions.
To this end, the Vostro 1510 is quite thin — its base measures 15mm at the font and about 22mm at the rear. It has a glossy lid and a magnesium alloy chassis with a graphite design. It looks good and it also feels very sturdy. The chassis doesn't bend when you lift it with one hand from either corner, and its lid is very strong and won't flex easily. It has an elegant-looking slot-loading optical drive, which can be controlled using touch buttons that reside just above the keyboard. (One of these the eject button; there is no physical eject button next to the drive.)
On the inside, the 1510 packs plenty of grunt: it has an Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 CPU, which runs at 2.4GHz, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 160GB hard drive, which spins at 7200rpm. These combined to produce a score of 94 in our WorldBench 6 benchmark, which is a fast score. Its score of 1min 9sec in our MP3 encoding test is also faster than we were expecting. It will easily accomplish office tasks, as well as more taxing jobs such as photo editing; it will even do a reasonable job of 3-D rendering. Its GeForce 8400M GS graphics card isn't a powerhouse, but with a score of 1669 in 3DMark06, it's not too bad for running older games and perhaps even some new ones at low quality settings.
The 1510 has a 15.4in widescreen display; it has a 1440x900 resolution, which is convenient for lining up windows side by side, and it doesn't have a glossy coating. This means you won't notice any glare if you use it under fluorescent lights in your office. It has good contrast, adequate viewing angles and it isn't overly bright. A webcam is built into the top bezel, next to an array microphone (the notebook also has a separate microphone port), so it's well equipped for online conferencing and taking memos. The speakers either side of the keyboard do a decent job, but they aren't overly loud and they struggle to reproduce a full range of sound. Their volume can be controlled using the touch buttons, but the response is a little delayed. After using the 1510 for many hours, we found its keyboard and trackpad to be very comfortable. The keys provide ample travel, and the trackpad is precise, feels smooth, and doesn't stick. Heat also isn't a problem after prolonged use and the notebook's exhaust fan isn't annoyingly loud. Its weight of 2.7kg (without the power supply) means that it can be a little awkward to lug around, but it's actually quite light for a 15.4in notebook.
We were very impressed with the 1510's battery life, which, in our worst-case scenario test, lasted 2hr 39min. With a sensible power consumption profile, it will last much longer, making it ideal for long plane trips within Australia. The battery is a nine-cell model and has a rating of 7800mAh, and it's quite big — it sticks out of the rear by approximately 2cm.
When you first boot up the 1510, it will take 57sec before it's ready to use in the Windows Vista Business environment, and that's with all of Dell's pre-loaded utilities enabled. It will recover from 'sleep' mode in under 3sec. It doesn't ship with any pre-installed trial software, for which we're thankful. For security, you can use the built-in fingerprint reader, and the unit also has a Trusted Platform Module.
The unit has good connectivity options: four USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, Bluetooth 2.0, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an EpxressCard/54 slot, an SD card reader and a D-Sub port, and we're pleased it doesn't include a built-in modem. However, we wish it had 802.11 draft-n networking, which would nicely complement the notebook's other powerful features.
Note: the price of $1639 is for the model that comes with the 6-cell battery, not the 9-cell.
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