Dell Vostro 1510 Review

The Dell Vostro 1510 is sold by Dell as a small business targeted laptop. It has a 15.4″ widescreen display, relatively thin design, and has a black glossy finish. The Vostro 1510 is available in a wide variety of configurations, with processor configurations ranging from a slower Intel Celeron to speedy Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz, optional dedicated graphics, and storage options of up to 320GB. While the Vostro 1510 is sold through Dell Small Business, it is a laptop that could suit students or indeed anyone looking for a durable well appointed machine that also comes at a very reasonable price and backed by good support.

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Specifications of Review Laptop

The Vostro 1510 comes in a wide variety of configurations, the one under review is a budget variety with middle of the road to lower end component choices. Because of this the price was only $730:

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T5870
  • Graphics: Intel X3100
  • Hard Drive Storage: 160GB 5400RPM
  • Screen: 15.4″ WXGA
  • Media: Slot loading DVD+ / -RW
  • Battery: 6-cell 56WHr
  • Wireless: Intel 3945 802.11 a/g
  • Ports: 4 USB 2.0, VGA out connector, Ethernet, Modem, 8-in-1 media card reader, 54mm ExpressCard slot, FireWire (IEEE 1394)
  • OS: Windows XP Pro

Below is a table comparing the Vostro 1510 to comparable notebooks.

Notebook Weight
Dell Vostro 1510 (15.4″ screen, 6-cell battery) 5.66lbs
Dell Vostro 1500 (15.4″ screen, 6-cell battery) 6.75lbs
Dell Inspiron 1520 (15.4″ screen, 9-cell battery) 7.4lbs
Sony VAIO FZ (15.4′ screen, 6-cell battery) 5.62lbs
HP Pavilion dv6500t (15.4′ screen, 6-cell battery) 6.10lbs

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Above you can see the glossy finish of the Vostro 1510 lid is quite reflective, so you can imagine the problems it has with showing greasy fingerprints. The previous Vostro line had a matte finish that was admittedly bland, but easier to keep looking clean.

The slot loading optical drive is a nice touch, it also contributes to the laptop looking a bit cooler than just the average small business machine.

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With the lid open you can see there are touch sensitive button controls along the top of the keyboard and the interior thankfully has a matte finish so it’s easy to keep looking clean. Speakers are aligned along the left and right side of the keyboard.

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One accent the design folks at Dell gave the Vostro 1510 were illuminating buttons that respond to touch. They look nice, but in use are a little annoying. For instance, to turn up volume you have to keep tap, tap, tapping with touch sensitive volume up button and it’s slower to do than a regular button would be.

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I like the 1510 look more than the 1500, it’s more up to date looking, but it’s by no means stunning and won’t win any awards. For business users you’ll appreciate the thinner and lighter style, it’s much better for on the go. Students will appreciate the fresher look and the extra mobility will be great for ease of carrying around campus.

Ports and Features

The Vostro 1510 has a decent range of ports. Four USB ports is certainly enough, FireWire is good to have and other than that everything is pretty standard as far as what’s included. The web camera and fingerprint reader are optional. For students the web camera would be a nice option to get ($50 upgrade), I’m not so sure the fingerprint reader is necessary unless you like to have that for easier logins. Missing is any type of higher resolution display output such as HDMI, DVI or even S-Video. If you don’t plan on giving presentations or using a large external LCD screen this won’t be a problem.

vostro_1510_ports_front

ports_back_right

There is no dedicated docking solution for the Vostro lineup, though you can get a USB based port replicator if you want to add more ports (just as you can with any laptop).

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is of course full sized on the Vostro 1510. As far as feel of the keyboard, it is decent as far as key spacing and look, but suffers from some flexing in the middle. If you’re a heavy typer you’ll notice this. The touch sensitive buttons for media control look nice at the top, but to be honest I’d rather have regular old push buttons as they are easier to use. Also, it’s pretty annoying that the Home and End keys require use of the Fn key. The Page Up and Page Down keys seems flipped to me, intuitively the PgUp should be on the right and PgDn on the left. The volume up button is Fn + PgUp and volume down if Fn + PgDn, again you would think increasing volume is the right button and the left button is down, but it is the reverse.

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Below is a close-up of the area I found to be confusing, it seems the PgUp should have been to the right and the PgDn to the left:

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The touchpad works fine, it could be a little bigger though. The mouse buttons actually have a nice tactile feel providing good feedback. You can get an optional fingerprint reader for an extra $25. This can be used to login to both Windows and save logins for websites that you access, so saves on time.

Performance and Internal Components

Performance of course varies depending on the configuration you select at Dell.com. If you don’t have demanding needs than an el cheapo Intel Celeron processor could be fine, but the middle of the road is usually the best place to be in terms of processor selection. I recommend a Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz processor at the current time. You can get an Intel Core 2 Duo T5870 2.0GHz or T7250 for $75 more right now. The T7250 apparently has a few more features, such as virtualization technology, that are useless to the average consumer (if you don’t know what Intel Virtualization Technology is, chances are you don’t need it!).

The Vostro lineup offers up to a 320GB hard drive, you know what you’re storage needs are, so get what you need to store all the files you need when on the go. Don’t forget that external storage becomes cheaper and cheaper and it isn’t necessary (or even wise) to store all of your documents right on your laptop, just the files you like to have within easy reach and that go with you everywhere. You should be backing up to an external drive and store really large files there. It might be better to opt for a faster 7200RPM hard drive with less storage if speed is more important to you than actual capacity. A 160GB – 250GB internal hard drive should probably be more than enough for most students. No expensive yet speedy SSD (Solid State Drive) is available with the Vostro 1510, which makes sense since this is a budget computer.

If you plan on playing games the Vostro 1510 isn’t for you. Dell only offers up to an Nvidia 8400M GS graphics card, this will allow for older 3D games to be played, but will not support running more recent high-end games such as Bioshock or Crysis. If all you plan on doing is productivity work and a few light games, then just going with Intel X3100 integrated graphics will be fine.

With the specifications for the Vostro 1510 under review I got the following results in PCMark05, a benchmarking application that tests the system as a whole: 3,783 PCMarks

pcmark05

Obviously the more you pay for better internal components the better performance you will get, but for most tasks except gaming your average student will have ample power with this configuration. If you’re an engineering student and need a computer for CAD design you will also need to consider getting a laptop with a more powerful graphics options.

Screen

Dell gives quite a selection of screens you can configure with the Vostro 1510. You can choose the following resolutions:

  • 15.4″ Widescreen WXGA (1280 x 800) Display
  • 15.4″ Widescreen WXGA+ (1440 x 900) Display
  • 15.4″ Widescreen WXGA+ (1440 x 900) Display with TrueLife
  • 15.4″ UltraSharp Widescreen WUXGA (1920 x 1200) Display with TrueLife

“TrueLife” means a glossy screen finish, most will prefer this as it does make colors look brighter, if you’re in an office setting with bright lights it’s not so great though because glossy screen equates to a lot of reflection of lights. Since most students aren’t working in an office and will also use a laptop to double as an entertainment machine, glossy is the way to go.

The standard resolution of WXGA is the most comfortable for viewing, but if you like to fit more on a screen, which is important for design or computer science students, then a higher resolution is better. The WUXGA is almost too high of a resolution because text will be extremely small on the screen, so unless you know you really want that resolution level be warned most will not agree with it.

The brightness of the Vostro 1510 screen is good, right where it should be. Below are a few pictures of the screen, note that it is a matte variety on the configuration under review so colors are not as bold as they would be with a TrueLife screen:

IMG_3573-1 IMG_3574-1
IMG_3575-1 IMG_3576-1

Battery Life

Dell gives you the option of getting a standard 6-cell battery or an extended life 9-cell battery. The 9-cell of course adds extra weight and will stick out a bit from the back. Under normal usage, wireless on and screen brightness two notches below full I was able to get 3 hours and 8 minutes of life out of the 6-cell battery, which is actually really quite good. Unless you know you need longer battery life for a marathon lecture the standard battery would seem to be just fine.

Vostro Warranty

The Vostro 1510 comes with a standard 1-year limited warranty, you can of course get various upgrades. The really nice thing about buying a Vostro is that Dell offers a 30-day return window in which you can return the laptop without incurring a restocking fee if you are not satisfied with it for any reason. This is great since on the purchase of an Inspiron you will be generally charged about 15% restocking fee, so if you buy a $1,000 laptop you lose $150 just returning it. This is why I think many students as well as small business buyers will find buying from the Vostro series attractive.

Buying Advice

When buying through Dell Small Business there is no student discount such as is offered on the Inspiron and XPS line. Rarely will you see coupon codes on the Vostro line either, so you just have to keep an eye on the different marketing offers Dell runs on the Vostro, usually they refresh the offers to something different on a Thursday.

If you configure the Vostro 1510 to be over $1,200 it’s probably worth considering an extended warranty to protect such a large investment. If you get a budget configuration skip the expense of an extended warranty. Also keep in mind that if you use an American Express card to make your purchase then American Express will automatically double your warranty with a max of one extra year coverage, effectively making your 1-year warranty a 2-year warranty or turning a 2-year warranty into a 3-year warranty — it certainly makes getting an Amex card worth it.

Conclusion

If you just need a basic notebook for school that will certainly last you for 3-years and don’t have a huge budget then the Vostro 1510 can be a good choice. If you know you’ll be moving around campus a lot and want to take a laptop to class, you might want to consider down-sizing to something smaller — a 15.4″ screen notebook will not fit on some smaller size desks and could be a little cumbersome. The smaller 13.3″ screen Vostro 1310 would certainly be worth a look if you know smaller is more your thing. However, if you’ll be using the Vostro 1510 mostly in your dorm room or apartment, then it’s a great size to have and easy just to carry around your living space or back home. You probably won’t get any kudos or double takes from passers by due to the design of the Vostro 1510, and other kids using a Mac will probably be considered cooler than someone with a Vostro, but if getting attention isn’t your goal but rather practicality and price are more important, the Vostro 1510 is worth considering as an option for college.

Click to Buy the Dell Vostro 1510 Direct from Dell Starting at $599



Filed Under: Feature Articles, Student Laptop Reviews

About AJ

I'm a big believer in the importance of technology usage in education, but not just having blind faith in technology gadgets and using them in a school setting for the sake of it. I review and write about technology devices such as laptops and tablets that have a clear purpose and provide a learning advantage for students.

28 Responses to Dell Vostro 1510 Review

  1. Rob Jones June 9, 2008 at 12:49 am #

    Holy backlight leakage batman, that display looks horrible!

    And I’m not exaggerating, that has got to be one of the worst notebook displays I’ve ever seen. What’s the display manufacturer? If that’s what people can expect from the Vostro 1510, damn, that’s bleak. My 1500 has an LG/Philips display that’s absolutely gorgeous, I couldn’t imagine having that display.

  2. AJ June 9, 2008 at 7:57 am #

    Well, to be honest the backlight leakage isn’t all that bad. I’m afraid those pictures do sort of over emphasize the amount of leakage on the screen, mostly because it was taken in a dark room and the borders on the screen are black. A camera tends to exaggerate this effect as well. To the human eye when viewing a normal screen the leakage is almost non-existent, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

  3. Don June 9, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    What about the audio quality?

  4. AJ June 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    @ Don – Sorry I left out coverage of the audio. The speakers are middling, there’s little bass and when the volume is increased the tinny qualities start to show through. The front located headphone port can be put to good use with a decent pair of headphones though, no issues with audio there :)

  5. Rob Jones June 10, 2008 at 12:58 am #

    @ AJ

    http://img144.imageshack.us/img144/8457/dsc02173qz7.jpg

    Picture of my LG/Philips Vostro 1500 display, with a black border (It’s running the My Picture slideshow screensaver), in a darker room. Should be the same conditions if not *more* visible back light problems, if they were present. The only leakage is a very small amount on the bottom of the display. Clearly the 1510 has a poor display. I’m not trying to rain on your parade, it just seems like Dell dropped the ball on this one.

  6. AJ June 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    True, it could be better in terms of light leakage. Still, it’s hard to make a blanket statement in a review that the screen stinks when we know that if you’re buying a Dell such a thing can vary based on which parts manufacturer you happen to get. Those that are picky can certainly contact Dell if they are not satisfied with a screen part that they get. Those that are less savvy probably won’t know any difference.

  7. Angie July 1, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    I have not seen this mentioned in any reviews of the Vostro 1510, but the touch-pad does not appear to have scroll bars. If they truly are missing, does this irritate those who purchased the system?

  8. Mark July 6, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    Aloha All,

    Noticed on DELL’s site that a few reviewers commented on some heat issues.
    I plan to have this on a diagonal dock port stand. Found with my wifes HP it reduced a the overheating allot.
    Screen issues: This is the first I’ve read about screen questions. You might want to consider how each photo was shot, type of camera, lighting, graphics card, and other related factors. Not taking sides. Just points to concider.

    I’ll be using this to increase mobility, moderate graphic use with site development & retooling, for MY use only. Yup, kids using my primary system has promopted me to look at this.

    Concidering upgrading to the 2.1 or 2.5 Intel CPU, 256 GForce 8400, and later increasing RAM. RAM will continue to come down in price, so why spead more at time of purchase.

    Recommendation to all. Stick with XP, do all your updates, Dump Norton &/or move to AVG 8.0.1. Since AVG made their free version more customizible, it’s worth checking out again.

    Look forward to any feedback.

    Much Mahalo, Mark

  9. Mark July 6, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    Aloha all,

    Just thought I’d pass this review I just found.
    Sounded like a fair reivew.

    http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=4444

    Mahalo, Mark

  10. Nijat July 17, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    Hey guys,

    I have got that Vostro 1510. It is quite nice maschine, but my screen reslotion is 1900-1200, which actually may sound nice, but when I change the resloution, because in original everything is quite small, desktop becomes gloomy. Do you know how can I fix it?

    BTW, when I leave it on 1900-1200, and change font scale and icons, it lokes really ugly and makes it hard to work with. So if u know how can i sharpen the 1200-800 (when it is gloomy), I would apreciate.

    Thanks

    Nijat

  11. Keaton August 11, 2008 at 12:34 am #

    Hey guys, I might get a 1510. Does this laptop seem to thick and does it seem to be long enough?

    Thanks

  12. Chris September 5, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    Angie, it does have a scroll bar on the touch pad. Not explicitly marked but when you swipe your fingers over the touch pad right side, window is scrolled up/down accordingly.
    CU,
    Chris

  13. Qaasim February 3, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    good review, I have been using VOSTRO 1510 for the last five months with no problem except for the slow loading speed and and you can not manually eject the slot load DVD drive.

    last week, i had the greatest regret of my use of this laptop when the slot loading DVD burner stopped reading DVDs but only reads CD. Has anyone had this same problem with this product? if yes how did u go about repairing it, i think it is a hardware problem. Can the slot loading device be replaced?

    I am no longer happy with this device.

    Thanks

  14. Tez March 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    I recently won a Dell Vostro 1510 from my school. As of late I’ve been having audio problems. I was wondering if anyone knew how to fix this problem. Aside from these problems I do find my Laptop to be pretty freakin awesome. If you notice instead of tapping the buttons i the upper-right corner for sound you can just press Fn and page down or page up to adjust the volume.

  15. DEY April 7, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    I have got a new Vostro 1510 two days back. How do I use the MM Card Reader ? The port is blocked by a lid, how does it come out to allow insert a MM Card ? Somebody help….

  16. Phyl Evans April 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Pie asks:
    Is it a fact that the DELL VOSTRO 1510 has no internal modem? If you need to use dial up internet from deep country but can’t because it has no modem, what is the best alternative with this computer?

  17. damilola babayemi June 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    This package is complete RUBBISH. From the first day i bought this laptop till now, i have been experiencing one trouble or the other. The motherboard is a complete wacko. I bought this laptop October 24th and January 8th the laptop refused coming up. I took it to the dell store i bought it and i said someone had touched it and truly that was the way i bought it from the company. so i have been on my own since then finding a way to fix the shit called laptop. I curse the day i bought DELL VOSTRO 1510. I always hold Dell for a good product because i had seen many offers then but i bluntly refused because i wanted to go to a reputable store. when others went for a very check price, i bought mine extremely expensive and i didn’t complain. nothing hurts as when a young student works for her money and she’s duped by a reputable company. This particular laptop is evil, it has brought serious fight and trouble in my own, my elder brother no longer wants to my face because he said he’ll stab me. I stay in my friend’s house.Thanks to you. I have bought 5 power packs between jan8 and now.
    EVERYONE……. QUIT BUYING THIS VERSION AS FAR AS I KNOW

  18. Amy June 13, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    I bought the Vostro 1510 this time last year. I was totally chuffed with it for about 2 months, until it stopped working. Dell were completely inefficient at helping me, and after a long telephone conversation; I was made to restore factory settings; wiping off everything on my laptop. As from now; I haven’t installed THAT many downloads, or software add-ons etc, I have been quite good in that sense. I do have a good few thousand pictures, and about 70 music files. I would not recommend buying this laptop, it seemed good value at £300, but I would not make this purchase again, and I strongly advise everyone else against it too. Amy. :)

  19. Amy June 13, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    But I must admit; I didn’t buy the highest hardrive and things, as it was not in my price range, but nevertheless, the standards are still unacceptable.

  20. Amy June 13, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    DEY;
    Push it in, to unlock it, and hopefully it will release itself. Pull it out, and insert a MMC.
    :)

  21. allison September 28, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    We purchased a vostro 1510 in July of 2008 in June of 2009 a little black line showed up in the middle of the screen and my husband contacted his rep at dell to get help with the problem. He sent a few emails to his rep over the next few months as the problem got worse and nothing so I called technical support today and they said that since the computer was over a year old they would not do anything to help, we would have to pay to send it in and have it checked to the tune of $159 and then if it was the screen it would cost $199 to replace it. Wow, I don’t know about the rest of you but this seems alittle extreme that a computer screen on a laptop doesn’t even last a year and the cost to repair is almost the cost of a new one

  22. srinivas October 12, 2009 at 12:29 am #

    hai friends i plan to buy dell 1510 how is it in future?

  23. Joris November 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    I purchased this laptop in april 2008. I’m quite happy about it’s performance and with the NVidia 8400 m gs video card I can play games like HL2 without too many problems if I turn the settings to low. Also, I love the keys on the keyboard and contrary to public opinion I think the looks are adorable (except for the sharp edges). I have had several quite annoying issues with this laptop though:
    1. when processing high demanding video applications (such as 3d games and movies) the laptop tends to become really hot; with Speedfan I detected temperatures up to 95 degrees celcius and this caused gameplay to malfunction. This can only be solved by placing the laptop unto a higher platform so that the bottom fan has more airsucking space
    2. After just a year of use battery life was reduced from 3,5 hours to just 20 minutes (!) in a few months and I have no explanation for this, except staying in a warm country
    3. Two or three times I have had an Nvidia critical system error which seems to resemble the errors people got with laptops fitted with wrong solder that became extremely hot, which has been a major blow to nvidia some years ago. Dell has sworn to me this laptop is not fitted out like that, but I doubt them.
    4. The sound quality of the integrated boxes is extremely crap. Really, if you would play music through a tin can it would sound better. Also, the maximum volume is the lowest I ever heard. On maximum volume you cannot understand a movie if people are talking in the room and if you are more than a few meters away from it. If you use a headphone though, the sound comes through crystal clear.
    5. Although the fan starts to run fast when the temperature goed above 70 degrees C, the fanspeed is not in any way manually adjustable, neither through BIOS settings, and sometimes seems to decides its speed randomly. This is annoying, since I know it can run faster and for games it simply would have to run continuously to manage temperature in a right way.

    The heat issues can be solved by a laptop stand, but it doesn’t speak for portable gameplay. The sound is also annoying if you want to take it to friends to watch a movie. This is simply not possible without additional boxes plugged in. What has annoyed me mostly is the battery life. I used to have a consistent 3,5 hours of battery life and was very pleased with that, but at the moment I can forget about any form of usable portability. Fortunately I use the laptop mainly as an allround desktop and for that purpose it’s a decent buy. For the 550 euro that I paid for it, I still think it was a cheap and reasonable purpose, but next time I would choose go for another type.

  24. Chamath June 27, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    do they have a microphone built in.
    i have a dell vostro 1510
    but the mic dont work at all

  25. Geoff September 2, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    My Vostro 1510 was purchased on eBay 2 years ago for £425. It has 140gb HD and 2ghz dual core Intel which work fine. Sure the sound is poor but aren’t all laptops? The only issue I have is battery life has not been that good and the multi card reader will no longer read SD cards. I did not like the installed Vista so I switched to XP Pro and then to Windows 7 and it works fine but only after a latest bios up grade. I use it all the time and its a reliable work horse. Shame about poor battery life.

  26. Geoff September 2, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Apparently the multi card reader on the Vostro 1510 wont work with Windows 7.
    Any solution appreciated.

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