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The Dell Vostro has been my student laptop for nearly two years now. It's never let me down if I'm honest, and in all my experience with Dell products, they are reliable and well worth the money. The laptop came with the basic programs, but I did need to buy Microsoft Office, the student version, for me this is essential as they programs they offer with this laptop do not cover it.
In terms of looks and appeal I don't think this laptop is anything special, in truth is quite boring and if I was going to use this laptop on the move, I'd be using something smaller and better looking. However, as I have previously mentioned, this dell is reliable and well made. With that in mind, I think its well worth the price, the other positive is that Dell gives you the opportunity to customize your laptop with additional performance and visual features.
That reminds me, the battery life is one disappointing aspect, mine usually lasts for around 2hours when disconnected from the charger.
This laptop is very easy to use and, if you're buying one new, plenty of extra add on features come with it for office and business use. Visually, the whole layout on-screen is well designed, and the standard, classic formatting means anyone should be able to use it. As a bonus, the battery life is a vast improvement on previous dell models, meaning you can use this laptop fully charged for hours without having to plug it back into a power charger. Reliability may be its only real weak point - I've had my laptop for under only two years now and already its starting to become slow with a tendency to crash under pressure. This may, however, be due to the abundance of files I have stored on there, which is not to say the Vostro has a lack of space. On the contrary - for general use, the amount of memory space on the laptop is more than enough.
I got this laptop before I went to uni. It is perfect for this as it is relatively cheap, light and has all the features you could possibly want for uni. I got it with a truelife screen for only an extra ten pounds which I would recommend as it makes watching films on it great. The Vostro 1400 is fast, good-looking and a standard good laptop. I use this for everything, it does not get too hot and I use it everyday to work on it. I could not live without this laptop now. It is also quite robust so if you drop it it does not break. There are lots of features you can pay extra to get on the laptop so it can be made custom to you. This laptop is great, especially for uni or school students and even just as a family computer. It does the job well.
I decided to get the Vostro 1400 as it had the 120mb hard drive and the 2mb memory, plus many other features but it was also less than the Inspirion.
A friend also advised me that Dell laptops are a very good choice as they include a warrenty whereby a technician will usually fix any problem at your home within a day or two.
I did wonder whether the 14 inch screen would be noticably smaller than the other 15 inch but it really wasn't. The core 2 duo processor really seems to make a difference as I can open many pages at once without any problems unlike my older desktop Dell.
The laptop comes without a lot of the packages that the inspirion has but this was a benefit to me as I really don't need them and they just take up so much memory. Also Windows vista takes up about 1mb of memory so you really have 1mb left which is plenty but not if it's taken up with packages you never use.
The style of the laptop is basic black, which is fine especially when you think that it's packed with more than a normal desktop. It isn't as flat as the new version of laptop but a perfect size for your lap.
The touch mouse is ok, you can scroll up and down and side to side and with a tap you can select what you want but it all takes a little practice.
My one problem with the laptop is that there are constant error messages which switches the computer off. This is apparently to do with Vista though there are no solution as yet. The computer does however come with a support facility which allows you to check for solutions. You can opt to have windows XP though it is an additional cost but I would advise it.
The battery never lasts as long as it tells you. And when charged it really only seems to go for 2hrs. But you can opt for a better battery at additional costs.
On the whole I would definately get the same laptop again!
I got this laptop to replace my old broken laptop that was 5 years old and weighed more than a brick. Because I was out of the laptop market for so long I wasn't sure what to expect at what price. After searching high and low, I found this gem by Dell. Firstly, it is dirt cheap if you purchase creatively. At the time, Dell were offering free delivery if you purchased a laptop for £299 minimum (thus automatically shaving off £50). Secondly, even though it is marketed for 'small businesses', it is just as good if not better for the home as well.
When it arrived it was well packaged and I was surprised how good it actually looked. From the photos on the Dell website I knew that this machine wasn't built for aesthetic reasons. But I was shocked at how much better it was in person, a nice jet black with the silver logo on the lid. It isn't the lightest machine in the world for a 14" but it isn't heavy either. I'm a firm believer in 14" wide screens, one of the principle reasons for getting this model. 15" are a bit too big and heavier.
When I opened the lid, I realized there was no safety latch, relying instead on what must be a magnetic strip and strong metal hinges; it is very neat for a budget laptop. Unusually for a business designed laptop, there was a SD/MMC card slot which I found extremely useful for transferring photos. Next to the SD slot is a Wifi switch with the useful Wifi catcher which notifies of hotspots if in a public place and any other strong private wireless zones. Another bonus was having 4 USB ports on a 14" laptop. I have searched for a lot of laptops and the average USB ports is around 2-3, so having 4 is extremely good and means less wires for a hub. On my model, there were two USB ports on either side, leaving the back solely for the battery and Ethernet port.
Another plus was having the multimedia buttons above the keypad which even though sometimes is taken for granted, I know I would have found it annoying adjusting the sound in Windows all the time. Dell have also been heavily advertising their 'media direct' button which instantly boots up the computer if you just want to view multimedia files such as a DVD, use the laptop as a hifi or view photos, saving time in waiting for Windows to fully boot up. Although this is a useful plus point, I hardly use it and it did not influence my purchase. The two small speakers seem sufficient for listening to music and the odd DVD. The trackpad is very good too and the mouse buttons hardly make that annoying clicking sound which is good. They keyboard itself is a pleasure to type on. When I first used it, the keys were really hard and you needed a bit of force to type but now they have softened up and it is so much better to type on. I actually enjoy typing up my essays now!
The good thing about this laptop is that it is built for occasional travel and therefore it does not heat up or make much fan noise. My old laptop had a huge and loud fan so initially it took getting some used to having such a quiet machine! My computer came with Windows Vista and so far it is working ok but it did have some teething problems, but nothing major. You do get used to it after a while and hopefully as time goes by it would become just as stable as XP.
Overall I think this is an excellent laptop for the price and I heavily doubt you would beat it. It has all the basics that you would expect from an IBM thinkpad, obviously not as good as a Thinkpad but you wouldn't expect that coming from a laptop that has a starting cost of £200. At the end of the day you are not going to go wrong with spending a small amount of money on a laptop that has a good amount of potential.