Dell frees latest Vostro laptops of bloatware

Dell is pitching the laptops as a communications tool to small businesses

Dell on Thursday introduced small-business laptops that will be free of bloatware, which could help improve system performance and protect storage space.

The Vostro laptops will be preloaded only with software that is requested by buyers, Dell said. Bloatware refers to trial software that laptop makers often load onto new machines. Software publishers often pay PC manufacturers to include trial versions on computers.

Common types of trial software include office productivity and accounting applications. Bloatware can be a headache for users, as it takes away system resources like storage space and could potentially introduce unwanted security vulnerabilities.

The laptops are aimed at buyers on tight budgets and include some of the latest storage, security and videoconferencing technologies. The laptops also support solid-state drive (SSD) storage, which is faster and more power-efficient than hard-drive storage.

Screen sizes on the laptops are 13.3 inches for the Vostro 1320, 15.4 inches for the Vostro 1520 and 17 inches for the Vostro 1720. The laptops include enhanced security capabilities to protect data, with fingerprint readers that can authenticate users to log on to the system and software from Wave Systems that encrypts hard drives.

The systems will come with Intel Core 2 Duo or Celeron processors and run on Windows Vista OS, with the option to downgrade to Windows XP.

Users have the option of integrated graphics or a separate Nvidia GeForce graphics card. The systems support up to 8GB of DDR2 memory with up to 320GB in hard-drive storage or 128GB in SSD storage.

A Dell spokeswoman couldn't estimate battery life on the laptops, as it depends on how customers configure the systems.

Starting at US$569, the 1320 laptop weighs 4.1 pounds (1.86 kg) with a 4-cell battery and no optical drive. The 1520 starts at $629 and weighs 5.38 pounds. The 1720 starts at $649 and weighs 6.8 pounds.

The products are available in North America and a few South American countries starting Thursday. They will be available in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) April 7, and in some countries in Asia in May.

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