By David Flynn, August 11 2011

We’re not going to pretend that Dell’s new Vostro V131 slips neatly into the ‘thin and light’ basket.

Our official Australian Business Traveller definition of ‘thin and light’ for notebooks tops out at 2cm around the waist and 2kg on the scales. Too far above that and you're more porker than portable; head in the other direction and you're becoming the perfect travel notebook.

The Vostro V131 is lineball in that 2+2 spec, but it’s still thinner and lighter than the average business laptop.

More significant is that Dell has packed in a full-power Intel processor instead of settling for a low-voltage module which can handle everyday tasks but lacks the muscle for dealing with heavy-duty jobs.

Your choice of chips ranges from the entry-level yet surprisingly capable Intel Core i3 to the workhorse Core i5 and the powerhouse Core i7. (The same philosophy applies to the V131's also newly-announced consumer siblings, the Inspiron 13z and 14z).

The Vostro comes standard with a six-cell battery rated at up to 9 hours between recharges.

In some countries Dell will sell the V131 with a four-cell battery and offer the higher-capacity unit an an option, but the Australian model turns this on its head: you can downgrade to the four-cell battery, but why would you bother?

And unlike its V130 predecessor, the Vostro V131 has a removable battery, as well as upgraded internals and airflow channels to keep things running cool.

In typical Dell style there are plenty of other options on the tick-a-box menu, even though the basic model starts at a low $899 – a price tag that'll prove hard to resist for the smallest of small businesses.

Want mobile broadband on the move? $100 gets you an inbuilt 3G modem suitable for the Optus, Telstra and Vodafone networks, rated at a peak 21Mbps speed.

For $250 you can swap out the standard hard disk drive for a 128GB solid state drive which delivers faster performance, less heat and noise and greater reliability.

And If you’re hankering for a true thin and light notebook, Dell also has what it calls an ‘ultrathin’ up its sleeve – but that’s still a few months away and details are sketchy at best.

Dell Asia-Pacific product manager Rainer Noack told Australian Business Traveller that “Dell will have something in the ultrathin space”, and also confirmed the company is “definitely looking at” the Intel-backed ultrabook concept.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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