Keyboard & Touchpad / Upgrade Options
Keyboard / Touchpad
The V131’s spill resistant keyboard with its subtle touches of chrome and glossy backdrop could easily be mistaken for the one on a much higher end product. The grip enhancing finish used for the palmrests also conveys a sense of quality which belies this notebook’s budget friendly price.
While it is certainly refreshing to see a full sized chiclet style keyboard on a sub $800 13.3” notebook, Dell actually takes things to the next level by also including a variable backlight. However, due to the V131’s form factor, some sacrifices had to be made. The inclusion of full sized arrow keys necessitated the use of a smallish space bar and the keys themselves are rectangular rather than shaped like squares so typing may take some getting used to.
A fingerprint reader has been included in a logical spot on the keyboard’s bottom right edge so straying fingers or palms won’t inadvertently set it off. Above and to the left of the main typing surface is a trio of quick launch buttons for Widows Mobility, Dell’s Support Center and the installed Launch Manager software.
Throughout typing this article on the V131, it constantly surprised us with well spaced keys, excellent feedback and tactile surfaces, all things that aren’t normally seen on lower priced mobile platforms. Granted, the experience wasn’t perfect due to a slightly undersized spacebar and a minimal amount of center keyboard flex but we feel that Dell nonetheless hit the nail on the head. Seeing this kind of typing surface on an inexpensive notebook gives us some hope that the competition is taking note and will bring their keyboards up to the new standard set by Dell's V131.
The trackpad follows in the keyboard’s footsteps by being one of the best we’ve come across. From well defined buttons with just the right amount of travel to a surface that’s perfect for any gesture regardless of how small, it is simply everything a trackpad should be. The finish Dell used is just a bit slippery while offering sufficient grip for more fine grain cursor movements. There’s also a small, handy LED light which glows a muted orange when the trackpad is disabled.
Unlike quite a few other ultra portables, the V131 is easy to upgrade through a flush mounted door that can be removed for access to the hard drive caddy and memory slots. On the 4GB model, one of the slots is left empty so the system could be potentially upgraded to 8GB.
Dell also includes a SIM card slot behind the battery compartment for the included 3G / 4G WiMax module. Unfortunately, the broadband communications module is only included in US models.
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