The Dell Vostro 3550 is a laptop designed for the executive in you, featuring a beefy 2.30GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor, 4GB of RAM (upgradable up to 8GB) as well as USB 3.0 and more, this is definitely a high performing machine. The price comes in at around £100 less than the previously reviewed Asus U37JC; and with both featuring similar specs, the 3550 could definitely be a winner, we’ll have to see what happens during testing.
The Dell 3550 sports a similar, almost identical, design to last year’s model. Both the lid and part of the underside sections are in the “Aberdeen Silver” colour, these sections are also covered with brushed-aluminium, with the centre of the rear just sporting the normal black plastic casing. As with all Dell laptops, the Dell logo is situated on the front, in the centre.
If we go ahead and open up the 3550, you’ll see that the entire panels and palm rests are covered with the smooth matte-black plastic which certainly looks very good indeed, a nice change from the horrible cheap, plastic that a majority of the manufacturers opt for nowadays.
As you’ll most likely have noticed, the 3550s front panel is situated about 1/2 inch inwards from the edge. Once the panel is upright, the actual joins between the base and the front panel are hidden from view which creates a floating illusion and also creates a very stylish design whilst still being very subtle.
The overall design of the keyboard is very stylish and modern featuring a glossy black recessed area that surrounds the entire keyboard. As with all laptops, you have your Fn (Function) keys, some of which are WiFi, screen brightness and volume controls. The keyboard is slightly recessed, which as I type this review on it, feels very “Apple” like, even right down to the backlit keys. Above the keyboard is the power button, as well as three buttons on the right that launch some of Dells own software.
The touchpad on the 3550 works relatively well. The mouse movements are very smooth and trackpad itself is very smooth to the touch. Again, going back to the 3550 being influenced by Apple, the gestures you can use on the Vostro 3550 are very “Mac” like. The gesture I found you could use was the two finger gesture for scrolling both up, down, left and right. This gesture seems to work pretty well on the 3550.
To the right of the touchpad, just underneath the keyboard, a fingerprint scanner is present. A common feature on most laptops nowadays.
The 3550 measures 14.8 x 10.2 x 1.4 inches which is around a similar size for most other 15.6-inch laptops. Weighing in at 2.5kg, it’s not the easiest thing to carry around with you so inside a laptop bag, you’ll most likely have other work documents, phones etc… therefore creating quite a heavy bag to carry around throughout the day.
The Vostro 3550 has a 15.6-inch anti-glare display that’s LED-backlit, which definitely pleases me as I’m sat right next to a window with sunlight pouring in. With the power of the AMD Radeon HD 6630M 1GB Graphics behind it, the 3550 has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768, which seems to be fairly common among the 15.6-inch laptops.
Both film and video work brilliantly on the 3550, the images are clear, sharp and the colours are both accurate and vibrant.
The speakers, overall, didn’t impress too much. They can definitely go very loud, but when it comes to music, the bass just felt flat and fairly unbalanced compared with the rest of the vocals and music. However, when tested with film / video, the performance was OK. If you’re going to be using the 3550 as a media hub for all of your music and film then I’d seriously suggest purchasing or using existing external speakers. As with most businessmen, you’ll be giving presentations, which the Vostro 3550 can handle easily, just don’t put any music in there as it won’t sound good.
If we take a look at the ports that the Vostro 3550 has to offer, you’ll see that the 3550 has various ports on the left, right and rear sides.
Starting on the left side we have an card reader, USB / eSATA port, HDMI port and USB 2.0 port. The rear of the 3550 has the power adapter jack, VGA port, USB 3.0 port, an Ethernet port and a Kensington lock.
On the right, we have another USB 3.0 port, headphone and microphone jacks, DVD Re-writer Drive and a 34mm ExpressCard slot. Now, onto the front panel. Above the screen we can see the 2.0MP webcam as well as two microphones on either side which is processed by Andrea Electronics’ software. This software helps in eliminating background noise in any videos you record.