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Design and Ergonomics

The Vostro 1400 doesn’t look like a typical awkward Dell notebook thanks to the lucky combination of color, shape, rounded-off corners, and chrome details. The notebook features a robust case made from a magnesium alloy.

The manufacturer’s logo proudly resides in the center of the lid.

There is no lid lock here. The elements that keep the notebook closed or fix the lid at the desired angle are located in the screen hinges. There is a jutting chrome piece at the front of the lid to help you open the notebook up.

On the notebook’s front panel, below the mentioned chrome piece, there are two headphones sockets and one microphone input. The manufacturer must have intended the notebook for use by two persons simultaneously.

On the left of the front panel there is a card-reader that supports Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Multi Media Card, Secure Digital, SDIO and xD-Picture Card. To the right of the card-reader’s slot is a three-position WLAN switch that can be set at “On”, “Off”, or “Searching”. A WLAN indicator is located nearby. It indicates the status of the Wi-Fi connection in the following manner:

  • Blinking green: searching for WLANs
  • Shining green: found a network with a strong signal
  • Shining yellow: found a network with a weak signal
  • Blinking yellow: error
  • Off: no WLANs found

Above the card-reader, there is a large group of system indicators that remain visible irrespective of the position of the lid (from left to right):

  • Power (alight when the notebook is turned on, and blinking when the notebook is power management mode)
  • HDD (shows that the hard disk is being accessed)
  • Battery
  • Wireless (blinking when the integrated Wi-Fi adapter is receiving or sending out data)
  • Bluetooth indicator (alight when the Bluetooth interface is enabled)

The battery indicator has several possible states. When the notebook is powered by the mains this indicator means the following:

  • Shining blue: the battery is being recharged
  • Blinking blue: the battery is almost fully charged
  • Off: the battery is full

When the notebook is powered by the battery, this indicator means:

  • Off: the battery is charged (or the notebook is turned off)
  • Blinking orange: the battery charge is low
  • Shining orange: the battery charge is very low

This orange-blue battery indicator is not very handy. The blue blinking of the near-charged state is rather irritating to the eye.

The display hinges stick out of the notebook’s body allowing to unfold the notebook by a large angle.

The interior of the Vostro 1400 matches its exterior design. Everything is black here except for the small silver dots of chrome buttons (multimedia controls, Power, and Dell MediaDirect). The rubber pads around the screen for a softer contact with the notebook’s body are almost the same color as the screen bezel.

In the top part of the screen bezel there is a tiny eye of the integrated 2-megapixel web-camera. The camera is fixed in its place, and you can set its angle only by changing the tilt of the display. On both sides of it there are two microphone holes. The indicator of the camera’s activity is placed to the left of it.

The Vostro 1400 is equipped with a widescreen 14.1” LCD matrix that has a maximum resolution of 1280x800 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10 (WXGA). The viewing angles look wide visually. The “glassy” coating of the display the manufacturer calls TrueLife technology makes the colors more saturated. Alas, this coating produces reflections and flares as is always the case with such matrixes.

We measured the brightness and contrast of the notebook’s display using a Pantone ColorVision Spyder with OptiCAL version 3.7.8 software. We selected the highest brightness setting before this test. The power-saving services reduced the notebook’s brightness in the battery mode.

AC power source:

  • 81.6cd/sq.m brightness, 43:1 contrast ratio

DC power source:

  • 55.7cd/sq.m brightness, 34:1 contrast ratio
 
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