Netbook manufacturers trying to distinguish their budget wares are nothing new, and Dell have taken to the classroom with their Latitude 2100. Announced yesterday, the Latitude 2100 packs the usual Intel Atom N270 processor but in an education-friendly design; as LaptopMag found, that means things like a semi-rugged design and a light that lets teachers know that their students are wasting time online.
That light - which signals any 2100 that's using its internet connectivity - can also be accessed by educational software developers, who could use it in their programs. One suggestion was an "I'm finished" indicator, telling the teacher that the student has completed their task. The keyboard, meanwhile, can have an optional $20 antimicrobial coating, but whether treated or not it's reportedly comfortable and spacious, as is the trackpad.
The 10-inch 1024 x 576 display has decent viewing angles - useful if more than one student is trying to use the Latitude 2100 at the same time - and the touchscreen option is a mere $30. As for performance, the non-standard 1.5GB of RAM (only 1GB or 2GB will be available) meant PCMark05 benchmarking ranked the 2100 higher than rival machines. Battery life from the 6-cell battery clocked in at 4hs 47 minutes, less than rivals can achieve from the same sized pack.
Overall, though, the market-specific tweaks and sturdy build make the Dell Latitude 2100 a sensible option for the schoolroom. Private buyers may find it expensive ($499 upwards) and heavy, but rival netbooks from ASUS or MSI might have trouble holding up to regular use by careless children.