Can The Vostro V13 Laptop Get Dell Back In The Game?

The 13.3-inch Dell Vostro V13 laptop, which emulates Dell's Adamo design, is 0.65 inches at its thinnest point and starts at 3.5 pounds. Pricing for t he Vostro V13 begins at $449 and is essentially the same style of laptop as Dell's more expensive Adamo luxury model, which starts at $1,499, but is about a pound lighter and has a slightly smaller screen. Unlike many cheaper laptops that come with plastic cases, the V13 has a brushed-aluminum case.

The base V13 package comes with Ubuntu Linux 9.04 and Intel's Celeron processor, along with 2 GB of memory, a 250-GB SATA hard drive, and a six-cell lithium-ion battery that offers five hours of runtime. The base model also comes with 802.11b/g wireless and Bluetooth capability, but it lacks an optical drive.

Users can upgrade to the $599 Productivity Package with Windows 7, an integrated Webcam, a 320-GB hard drive and a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 ULV (ultra-low voltage) processor. A $649 Performance Package also comes with Windows 7 and a 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 processor along with 802.11b/g/n wireless capability. The Performance Package can support 4 GB of RAM and a 500-GB hard drive.

Dell is targeting small-business customers with road-weary travelers and is positioning the V13 as a sleek-looking but cost-effective alternative to more expensive ultrathin laptops like Apple's MacBook Air.

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"Not long ago, business travelers like me had to choose mobility and affordability at the expense of performance. That's no longer the case with the V13," said Sam Burd, global vice president, Dell Small and Medium Business, in a statement. "This 13-inch small-business laptop is in a category all its own as entrepreneurs now have quality performance, battery life and security combined with a thin and lightweight design sturdy enough for today's business."

The V13 could play a significant role in helping Dell rebound from declining market share and disappointing financial results. The computer maker's revenue fell 15 percent in the recent third quarter, but Dell executives have been upbeat about the company's growing channel business.

While much of Dell's channel success in recent years has come from the enterprise market, the company says it plans to focus more on the SMB market. While the V13, like all Dell products, will be sold directly by the company, the new laptop model could give solution providers an attractive " and attractively priced " product to offer SMB customers.