The Good Rugged design with rubber cover; touch-screen option.
The Bad Tiny keyboard; big and heavy for a Netbook.
The Bottom Line Aimed primarily at school kids, the Dell Latitude 2100 is an interesting new take on the Netbook. It's worth a look if the unique features--including an especially rugged design and a touch screen--are important to you.
Dell Latitude 2100
Netbooks, while as popular as ever, have settled into a fairly routine existence, with thin plastic shells, Intel Atom CPUs, Windows XP, and 10-inch displays. But when a company attempts to take these basic parts and dress them up with unique features, our ears perk up. Recently we've seen stabs at higher-resolution displays and bigger 11-inch screens, for example.
Dell's Latitude 2100 offers a unique set of features, intended primarily for education markets, but possibly also of interest to consumers with specific needs. Our $514 system included a thick, rugged shell, with a rubber coating on the top of the lid and the bottom surface, along with an optional touch screen. Also unique to the 2100 is a small light on the back of the lid, which can help teachers keep track of the status of everyone in the classroom.
The end product is thicker and heavier than most Netbooks, but certainly feels as if it could stand up to some serious abuse. The keyboard looks and feels dated compared with current Netbook design trends, but at least the tapered keys are well-suited for the tiny fingers of elementary students (and it includes an antimicrobial coating).
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