Dell Vostro 3360 review
It’s rare for a business laptop to set the pulse racing, but Dell’s latest addition to its Vostro range, the Vostro 3360, is a little bit special. This compact 13.3in laptop crams an Ivy Bridge processor into a sleek, brushed metal chassis and rounds it off with an unusually sensible price tag. If you’ve been fighting the temptation to sneak an Ultrabook through on expenses, this business-friendly lookalike could be just the ticket.
Measuring 21mm thick and weighing in at 1.63kg, the Vostro 3360 is just a mite too chunky to make the official Ultrabook grade. It’s still portable, though, and rather lovely to look at. The slim silver and grey chassis looks smart and understated, and the metal lid and base make for a laptop that feels far pricier than you’d expect for £599.
Dell has taken full advantage of the Vostro 3360’s slightly chunkier body by including plenty of ports and sockets. There are three USB 3 ports, D-SUB and full-sized HDMI outputs, Gigabit Ethernet and an SD/MMC card reader. Flip the Vostro 3360 upside down, and you only need remove a single screw to gain access to the two sticks of RAM, the Wi-Fi chipset, BIOS battery and an empty mini-PCI Express/mSATA slot. The only thing lacking is an optical drive.
Despite the lean physique, the Vostro 3360 is no slouch. With one of Intel’s low-voltage Ivy Bridge processors at the helm, not to mention 6GB of RAM and a 7,200rpm 320GB hard disk, it has a healthy performance kick. The processor in question is a 1.7GHz Core i5, capable of boosting up to a heady 2.6GHz, and this helped the Dell return an overall score of 0.65 in our Real World Benchmarks – highly respectable for a 1.63kg laptop.
With no dedicated graphics to sap the Vostro’s stamina, it lastS. The battery is sealed away inside the Vostro’s chassis, so requires dismantling to replace, but in our light-use battery test, it survived for 6hrs 54mins. That’s some way short of the best Ultrabooks, but it’s ample for most purposes.
There are disappointments, however. The 13.3in display is the first, with a bog-standard resolution of 1,366 x 768 and a TN panel that delivers average image quality. Colours appear muted, vertical viewing angles are narrow and brightness reaches a mediocre 201cd/m2. Contrast isn’t a forte either, with a measured contrast ratio of 214:1 producing blacks as a dull grey. It’s perfectly usable for business duties, but those after a top-notch display will need to look elsewhere.
The Vostro’s ergonomics are equally middling. The Scrabble-tile keys have a nice light spring to each stroke, and there aren’t any unduly shrunken keys to worry about. Carry on typing, however, and the right-hand side of the keyboard bounces noticeably with each keypress, giving the keyboard a rather spongy quality. The touchpad works well, but we can't help wishing it was a little larger.
Yet, despite its average ergonomics and display, the Vostro 3360 is a solid all-rounder. Good performance is married with reasonable reserves of stamina, and the asking price is low for a laptop of this specification. Small businesses, students and just about anyone seeking an inexpensive ultraportable would do well to put the Dell Vostro 3360 on their shortlist.