As with all of the Vostro line, the hardware is only half the story. Its the software and utilities that Dell includes that set the Vostro 1310 apart from other laptops for business buyers. For example, Dell includes a one-year, 10GB subscription to its Dell DataSafe Online backup and recovery service. When activated, DataSafe automatically backs up your data files to a secure remote storage site via your Internet connection. That means your files are recoverable should your laptop get lost, stolen or damaged.
You also get a one-year subscription to Dell Automated PC TuneUp, a preloaded utility that performs periodic system maintenance to keep your machine running properly. It can also scan the system for malicious files and cookies and set security settings to the appropriate level.
The Dell Network Assistant, meanwhile, helps simplify setting-up, monitoring, troubleshooting and repairing your network. Easy-to-follow wizards help you configure, monitor and repair wireless devices; share folders and printers; auto-connect to wireless networks and more.
Even better is what Dell has elected to leave out: all the trialware (the polite term) and preloaded advertisements that tend to litter the desktop of consumer PCs. In addition to the annoyance, such software robs you of valuable hard drive space and can negatively impact performance, since some of the applets add themselves to Windows start-up routine and sap memory and CPU cycles.
As for support, Dell backs the Vostro 1310 with 24/7 technical support from technicians specially trained to handle small-business issues. The laptop also includes DellConnect, an online-access tool that allows a Dell service tech to access your computer through a remote connection, diagnose the problem and repair it. Dell also offers its free Dell Small Business 360 Web site, which provides articles, insights and advice on IT solutions, business resources and other topics pertinent to small business owners.
The Dell Vostro 1310 starts at $749, which is an aggressive price for a current-generation laptop with these features. The entry-level model is powered by a 1.8-GHz Intel Celeron M 540 processor and 1GB of RAM, and includes an 80GB hard drive, a CD burner/DVD reader combo drive and 802.11g wireless (but no Webcam). Its specs are good enough for running the included Windows XP Home operating system and simple productivity apps,
For more power we recommend stepping up to the $844 model that features an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of RAM. That configuration also includes a 160GB hard drive and DVD burner, which make more sense in todays multimedia-centric world.
Take yet another step up and for $1,017, you get a 250GB hard drive, fast 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity and the Web cam.
Of course, Dell being Dell, you can also configure your own Vostro 1310 to your liking. A one-year warranty with mail-in service comes standard on entry-level models; an on-site warranty is available as an upgrade, and is included with the top-of-the-line configuration. Either way, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee with no restocking or return shipping fees.
Given its combination of looks, portability, features and software, its hard to find fault with the Dell Vostro 1310. If you need a smaller notebook as a traveling companion, you wont do better for the price.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
This article was first published on SmallBusinessComputing.com.