I have a love/hate relationship with Windows laptops. All of the ones I’ve experienced have ran perfectly fine for around 6-12 months, and then they just completely kick the bucket or get bogged down with so many issues that they’re just not enjoyable to use any more. So when approached to review the Dell Vostro 14 5000 Series, I was a little apprehensive, but I’m glad I took the opportunity as I was impressed with Dell’s mid-range notebook.
Priced at around the £500 mark, this is probably one of the more expensive laptops I’ve had to use, and it’s something I could almost immediately tell when I unpacked the notebook. Encased in a high quality metal chassis, the Dell Vostro 14 screamed of quality, and even more so when the back-lit chicklet keyboard lit up as I powered the device on. One thing I also noticed was that, despite its metal chassis it was quite light, which made it comfortable to carry around.
My only niggle with the laptop itself was that it looked a little dated. It was a lot more squarer than I expected, though being used to wide-screened laptops maybe it was just a little out of the norm for me.
Aimed mostly at the business sector, my time with the Vostro 14 was spent mostly doing work on n3rdabl3, and for the most part it performed really, really well. It was comfortable, fast, and the keyboard layout was comfortable to type on for prolonged periods of time. However the most impressive part of the laptop was its speakers.
The Dell Vostro 14 comes with Wave’s Maxxaudio built-in offering incredibly well-balanced sound, especially considering it was coming out of some pretty small laptop speakers. Usually, laptop speakers aren’t considered the best, especially when listening to music or watching films, but Wave’s technology made it almost a pleasure to listen to music and watch Netflix on.
Though it’s marketed mostly at businesses, I could easily see the Vostro being used for pleasure too. With the lower-end of the series still running an Intel Core i3, these laptops are more than capable of running most indie games without spontaneously combusting. The higher-end of the series may even be capable of running more with its 8GM RAM and i5 processor, though I wouldn’t guarantee that.
One of the more impressive things about the Vostro is its ability to be expanded with more storage and memory when needed allowing you to have a bigger hard drive, or even dual drive HDD + SSD if needed.
The Dell Vostro 15 was however a little on the thick side compared to other laptops at a similar price range, while this wasn’t a huge issue, for those who commute to and from work having that little less space in their bags might be a deal breaker.
The laptop’s backlit display was another disappointing area, which is a pretty big deal considering this is what you’ll be staring at constantly. While it was nice and bright in both daylight and night use, it was incredibly low in saturation and required lots of adjusting in order to get a decent picture. Of course for a laptop you’ll often be moving it around from desk to lap depending on use, so having to fiddle with the display each time became a little tedious.
Oddly, the display wasn’t the most highest resolution either at only 1,366 x 768 which meant working several applications at the same time was a little awkward.
That aside, the laptop performed pretty well with every day use and a little bit of light gaming. The battery lasted a solid 5-ish hours and really only needed to be charged near the end of the day. The charging cable was however one of those annoying straight inputs, which many will know don’t last the longest time, but other than that, the laptop was an enjoyable bit of kit to use.
Could I see this one lasting a little longer than the sub £300 models? Possibly. The laptop’s durable metal chassis would be a lot more forgiving when being tossed in and out of bags, and the 7th-gen Intel i3/i5 would certainly be more future proof than other chips out there.