Dell announces Vostro V131 with USB 3.0, Core i3 and i5 CPUs and a chiclet keyboard

There’s a fine debate going on as we speak about Dell’s back-to-school consumer laptops, but personally, we’ve always had a soft spot for Dell’s small business-focused Vostro line. The outfit’s just announced a new addition to the lineup, the 13.3-inch V131, and while it doesn’t look that different from the last-gen V130, it offers all the spec bumps you’d expect from a laptop announced in mid-2011. With this generation, you get Sandy Bridge Core i3 and i5 processor options, two USB 3.0 ports and a user-replaceable six-cell battery that promises up to 9.5 hours of juice. If you wanted, you could add up to a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive, which we suspect might not be enough storage space for some folks. The resolution, meanwhile, is 1366 x 768 — typical for budget notebooks. The design isn’t anything ground-breaking, but Dell did move to a chiclet layout for the keyboard, which you can configure with backlighting if you’re so inclined. We’re not going to lie, that $499 starting price at the source link seems tempting, given the good-looking mag-alloy chassis and those twin USB 3.0 sockets, though you’ll have to pay an extra hundred bucks to step up from the base dual-core Celeron processor.