At first glance, you might mistake the Dell Vostro 1220 for a netbook - it's not too dissimilar to the Dell Mini 12. A second glance, however, reveals just how much the lines have blurred between netbooks and laptops over the past 12 months.
Both Dell and HP have explicitly made a connection between their netbook lines and their business laptops, developing similar styling and overall feel. Telling the difference could prove challenging for some.
Despite that, the Vostro 1220 is clearly a 12in laptop, rather than a 12in netbook. The difference is in the processor - a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T6670, almost identical in specification to the HP Probook, opposite.
What that processor does is boot the performance score from the average 0.37 for an Atom N270, to a much more pleasing 1.09. That score is close enough to the HP ProBook's result to make the similarities between the two far more clear, and it's around 150% more performance than you'll get out of the likes of the Mini 12. The ProBook equals the Dell's score, despite the Vostro having the faster T6670 processor, thanks to faster RAM.
Not only that, but the results across the board in our benchmark are remarkably consistent - there's no single area that is weaker or less capable than another. This is a machine that will handle both giant spreadsheets and photo editing with equivalent gusto.
Admittedly, it can't compete with the more powerful Dell models, such as the Alienware, but at times it's hard to believe that it wasn't so long ago that 0.7 seemed like a good result for a laptop of this calibre .
The build quality is good, though there are a couple of weak spots. We liked the rubber protectors for the screen on either side of the wrist rest area, but the screen flexes when pressure is applied, showing a little warp. The chassis, too, flexes under pressure. The hinge, on the other hand, is a solid barrel with reassuring heft.
The specifications, too, have some nice touches. The hard drive supplied is a faster 7200rpm model, rather than the standard 5400rpm found in most laptops. The HP Probook 4310s, also includes a 7200rpm drive, but it seems more surprising to encounter in the $999 Vostro.
You won't get quite the same level of features as in the HP. While both have 2GB RAM, the HP uses DDR3, compared to the DDR2 found in the Dell. Wireless is available, but it's 802.11b/g, compared to the draft-n found in the HP.
But what the Dell does, it does well.The keyboard has a crisp snappy feel - not only does it click pleasingly while you type, but the key responsiveness is sharp and helps feel as though you're typing faster.
It's not as comfortable as the likes of the T400s or HP 6930p, but it's definitely a step above the keyboards for many laptops in this price range. The trackpad buttons, like the HP, are a little too soft-feeling for high levels of res-ponsiveness, but they're capable enough.
While the heavy use benchmark shows that the Vostro can't take punishing applications for very long - a shade under two hours, to be more precise - the light use benchmark was another story.
At 6 hours 17 minutes, it has a decent amount of life in it, and, if you can avoid using anything too strenuous, we think you'd see a good 3-4 hours on the go. While that may not be up to the likes of the more outstanding netbooks, such as the BenQ U121 Eco or Asus 1108HA with their 8-9 hour battery life, it's more than you'll get in many laptops at this price.