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Among all the Dell notebooks we have tested so far, the Vostro 1400 is the first one to have a normal keyboard, without questionable innovations. Its 86 buttons are springy, yet quiet. The movement keys are level with the keyboard’s baseline, so there’s a higher risk of your pressing them accidentally. The bottom left corner is occupied by a Control key – that’s all right for people who are used to shortcuts like Ctrl+C or Ctrl+V. Numeric buttons and two Windows keys are available: the Context Menu key is to the right of the spacebar; the Windows Logo key is placed over an Alt button to the left the spacebar. The functional keys are smaller than others. Home, Page Up, Page Down and End form a column on the right. Num Lock, Print Screen, Insert and Delete are placed in the same row with the functional buttons. The letters are painted white and the functional keys are painted blue (you should press the functional keys in combination with Fn to access their additional functions).

The manufacturer claims the keyboard of the Vostro 1400 is dustproof and waterproof, which is a valuable property for a notebook that is expected to travel frequently.

The touchpad has the same color and texture as the surface surrounding it. The sensitive area is sunken a little to prevent your finger from slipping off it. The touchpad’s sensitivity isn’t high just as in some other Dell products we have tested. There are scrolling zones marked on the touchpad. A scrolling joystick is missing. The touchpad buttons with a very soft click are placed below the sensitive panel. Alas, the touchpad is not very handy. Users of the Vostro 1400 are likely to prefer an external mouse.

Above the keyboard there is a second group of indicators together with an instant button (to launch Dell MediaDirect) and a Power button. These keyboard indicators include:

  • Num Lock indicator
  • Caps Lock indicator
  • Scroll Lock indicator

A block of multimedia buttons is to the right of the Power key (from left to right):

  • Previous track
  • Stop
  • Play/Pause
  • Next track
  • Mute
  • Two volume controls

The farthest part of the notebook’s body is covered with a grid with fake holes, but the holes are real near the right and left panels, covering two stereo-speakers.

Now let’s see what interfaces and connectors the notebook offers. You can find the following on its left panel (from left to right):

  • Kensington security slot
  • Power connector
  • 4-pin FireWire port
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • 26-pin ExpressCard/54 slot

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