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Dell Vostro 3500 Review : Cheap & Capable

It has not been clear who Dell's previous laptops have been targeted at. However, with it's new design and Intel’s Core i5 processors, it becomes apparent that Dell's Vostro range is aimed at Small and Medium sized businesses.

When comparing this model to its predecessors, it is clear that the design has had a huge overhaul. Although the vast majority of the chassis is matte black plastic, reminding us of the 20th century, Dell has now added aluminium backing to draw the attention of the eye, and some much needed durability.

As for connectivity, Dell has bundled in fair few of ports for a low budget computer. Starting with an Express Card Slot, Firewire, eSata/USB Combo, HDMI, VGA, 3x USB as well as the standard audio ports.

Like most of Dell's laptops, I am generally happy when using the keyboard. With its chicklet styled design, borrowed from the v13 and MacBook, you get a real sense of touch typing and a pretty good speed. You wont be breaking the typing speed record though.

There is just one small thing that really lets the aspect of the keyboard down - when using the outer edges of the keys it is very apparent that the keyboard is flexing, which, to me, just screams poor build quality.

The trackpad is a respectable size and very easy to use. It does include multi-touch features, but you will spend more time trying to use them correctly than it would take to just use the buttons. So, in my view, they are poorly implemented.

The Display on the 3500 can only really be described as okay. With a relatively low resolution of 1366x768, you do find that when working with multiple applications things do seem to feel very cramped. Things have obviously changed when compared to the older models.

Dell have ensured that the machine can be used in all environments by giving the screen a non-reflective coating that copes very will in direct sunlight.

Now in terms of battery life, I can honestly say that I haven’t got more than 4 hours out of it when just carrying out general every day tasks.

The high performance Core i5 processor could be the culprit for the short charge. Dell does offer a 9-cell battery option, but this is a very bulky way to go about improving battery life.

To deliver performance in a small package Dell has used Intel’s Core i5 processors and high speed DDR3 memory. To add to this, Dell has included a 7200RMP drive that allows for fast boots and data access. Coming with 320GB you have adequate space for your files.

The effect of all these hardware components is impressive with the 3500 speeding through every day tasks and light gaming.

Overall Dell has competitively priced their Vostro 3500, starting at £399, while our model costs £495. For the features bundled in for free, this really is great value for money. For the top line model you are expected to pay £799 which brings you a 17” screen, discrete graphics and the core i7 processor.

So by replacing the bland design of the previous versions by a slightly toughened and modernized look, Dell has vastly improved its new range. With the incorporation of the Core i5 processors I can see this being a huge success for businesses and casual home users.