Exactly 4 years ago (as I write this), I published the article “How I get laptops and plasma TVs for free“, wherein I detail my method for scoring free stuff from those spammy/scammy looking emails we all get.
Well, here’s your chance to win a free Dell Vostro V130 laptop from me (via Dell)!
That’s right, one of my readers is going to get a laptop valued at about $800 just for commenting (see rules below, after my review). Why am I doing this? Well, Dell gave me my own Vostro V130 to review and keep, and offered another one just like it to one of my readers as part of their PR campaign to highlight one of the newest models in their stable of small business laptops.
But first, my unbiased review:
Dell Vostro V130: A good buy?
First, I’ll reiterate that this is meant as a “small business laptop” and isn’t one of your cheapy netbooks. Why should I care about small businesses? Because I’m a small business owner myself! My portfolio of websites don’t manage themselves you know!
While I have a day job at a large company, I also work for hours at night on a laptop. In fact, I have 2 Sony Vaio, 1 Asus EEE PC Netbook, and 1 Dell supercomputer (it’s what I call my day job laptop) at home now, and until recently a business HP laptop as well, so I’m familiar with a range of laptop brands and styles (except a Mac because I have no need for one as long as I have PCs provided to me!).
I was actually surprised with the specs of the Vostro that Dell sent to me. In fact, I didn’t even know they had a range of laptops specifically for the small business market as I’ve mostly been familiar with their home and large business models. Here’s some specs os my specific laptop (and I believe the one you can win too):
- Intel® CoreTM i3 380UM (1.33GHz/800Mhz FSB/3MB cache)
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (versus the 32-bit version. Big difference!)
- 13.3 inch HD WLED Display (1366×768) with Anti-Glare
- 4GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
- 320GB SATA hard drive (RPM) (7200RPM)
- Anodized Aluminum shell in Lucerne Red (sexy!). Also available in gray (see image at top of article)
- 2.0 megapixel webcam
- Wireless-N capable card (also supports B and G routers)
- HDMI, VGA, 2 USB, 1 eSATA and 1 SD ports and standard Bluetooth
- 6-cell integrated battery (see complaints section below though)
What I like about the V130:
When I unboxed the laptop, I was surprised at how thin it was. It’s no Macbook Air, but it’s thin and light, yet has a sturdy feel to it thanks to the aluminum casing. As a guy, I’ll be honest I was disappointed to get a red one, but I’ll say it’s grown on me, and I don’t see the color when I’m using it anyway.
Next, as I’ve recently been upgraded to a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit laptop for work, I can appreciate the reason for having the more powerful operating system for a small business. My line of work requires the use of VMWare for testing software and running demonstrations, and the 64-bit OS is the way to go. Granted, Microsoft and PC hardware providers should have moved platforms YEARS ago and 32-bit shouldn’t even be an option anymore.
The display is excellent, even though it has just a standard graphics card, and the sound is surprisingly good too, considering it only has one mono speaker. I watched some Netflix HD video, and while it looks better on my “super-Dell” from work, it was perfectly adequate on this laptop. Remember, though, this is not an entertainment or gaming laptop. but rather one for doing small business work. Also, if you’re doing graphics or video work, you’d probably own a Mac already. I won’t argue that one.
It’s not a supercomputer with its processor, but I experience no lag in the bit of time I’ve been working on it. I haven’t loaded up VMWare (as I don’t have a license), but I suspect it would have no problem keeping up with my work Dell unless I had to run 2-3 VM images at once (in other words, have multiple virtual servers all using the resources off of my one laptop).
The design is perfect for travelers, as it is lightweight yet powerful. The question is, though, where does it fail as a small business laptop…
What I dislike about the V130:
As a blogger, I can use, and have been using, a much cheaper and weaker PC for my work. However, as a professional who travels to trade shows, conferences, customer sites, etc. to show product demonstrations and presentations, if I were to be an independent consultant who buys my own hardware, the Vostro would be in my target zone. Therefore, I can’t knock it for its pricing because I can appreciate the target audience.
The biggest problem I would have with the Vostro is battery life. I saw online it has a 4-cell option, but I got the 6-cell in my configuration. I’ve had 6-cell batteries before in my HP and Dells, and both of those gave about 3-4 hours of life, while the Vostro’s battery only gives about 2-2.5 hours of life. That’s unacceptable from a mobility point-of-view. In addition, because of its sleek design, the battery is embedded, which means you can’t swap it out for a bigger/better battery with more juice. Therefore, you always have to be close to a power plug when you’re on the go.
Other than the battery, I only have minor complaints, like the menu key next to the cursor keys on the keyboard. I keep hitting it instead of the left arrow, and I don’t see the point of it being there. Also, the touchpad scrolling needs to be smoother, but I found settings to at least slow it down. I also found that it allows pinch-zoom (like iPhones and Droids) as it has multi-touch capability, so that’s a cool feature at least.
The Final Verdict:
So would I buy one? Well, if I keep getting free laptops… But really, as a blogger, no. But if I have a crew of travelers working for me, and they need the processing power, I would consider the Vostro, but there’s some other very competitive alternatives on the market, each with their own pros and cons (check out CNET’s review of the Vostro for more information). I think the battery life is the deal-breaker for me because it’s meant for mobility, and I need something that lasts at least half a workday before a charge. The 6-cell battery in the Vostro wouldn’t even last for half a flight from NY to San Francisco. Otherwise, it’s the first sexy Dell I’ve seen and has a lot going for it, but it needs a better battery! C’mon Dell! For more info on the V130, check out theVostro V130 microsite and Dell’s Trade Secrets Facebook.
Now, for the good stuff.
How to Enter to Win a Dell Vostro V130
I’m going to do something similar to J. Money at BudgetsAreSexy.com (you can enter his contest too!) and ask you 2 questions. You have to make an attempt to answer them or else I’ll toss out your entry. I won’t judge content, but I’ll judge effort.
First, some rules and such:
- You have to be 18
- You have to be in the U.S. (sorry rest of the world)
- Only 1 entry per person
- You have until midnight Eastern this Thursday, March 10, 2011 to enter
- You’ll have to be willing to fill out a W-9 tax form (and pay taxes) on the prize. I had to do it to receive my free laptop, so you have to also
- I’ll draw the winner Friday using a random number generator to pick the winning comment. If you don’t reply within 48 hours of contact, or if you won’t submit your W-9 (to Dell, not to me), I’ll draw a new winner.
Alright, now to the 2 questions! I’m really looking forward to your responses, so get commenting!
1) What small business do you own/would you own (if you don’t own one)? 2) What do you think your biggest challenge is/would be as a small business owner?
Come back on Friday to find out the winner!
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