updated 08:15 am EDT, Tue May 19, 2009
Dell Latitude 2100
Dell on Tuesday kicked off the launch of its first netbook meant for schools or business-oriented users. Unlike the Inspiron Minis, the Latitude 2100 is toughened against the rougher use likely in a class and has a sturdier chassis as well as a rubberized surface, including a unique texture on the lid that's deemed easier to grip. In a first for Dell and most non-tablet netbooks, the 2100 has the option of a touchscreen that can be used for very visual educational apps or just as a simpler alternative to the trackpad.
As part of its focus, the new Latitude also gets rare options such as a built-in strap that can be used as a handle or an antimicrobial coating to prevent children from getting sick by sharing systems. A network activity light on the lid helps tip off teachers to when a student might be using their Internet access without permission.
Inside, the system is mostly familiar with a 1.6GHz Atom N270, a 3-cell battery and a 2.9-pound weight. Relatively uncommon are gigabit Ethernet as well as the choice of Windows Vista Home Basic alongside more familiar Windows XP Home and Ubuntu Linux choices. Both rotating and solid-state drives are available along with multiple lid colors.
Full base specifications haven't been posted, but the bolstered design and features of the Latitude 2100 put its starting price at $369. Orders start later today.