In keeping with the machine's schoolyard ambitions, Dell has fitted the 2100 with two Kensington lock holes, the idea being that kids can use them to attach a strap and carry the machine about satchel-style without fear of mishap. Indeed, it's a handy feature for anyone who wants to sling their netbook over a shoulder while wandering around press conferences and the like.
Connect the Kensington slots and you have... a 21st Century satchel
Another schoolyard touch is the message plate on the spine of the machine. The idea is to put a sticker there saying 'Property of Bash Street High School' or somesuch, but you could just as easily affix one that displays your company name and URL or phone number.
The 2100 is built from the same parts bin as the Mini 10 and 10v so at a basic level you get the same 10.1in, 1024 x 576 screen used in the the Inspiron Mini 10 - though Dell tells us it's in the process of ditching that size in favour of 1024 x 600 - and the same Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor with a 512KB of L2 Cache and a 533MHz frontside bus used in the 10v.
Standard wireless connectivity comes courtesy of 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, though an 802.11n card is as usual available as an extra-cost option.
So far then there isn't much to chose between the Latitude and Inspiron netbooks. But look a little more closely and the basic design of the 2100 enjoys several advantages.
To start with, the 2100 comes with an extra memory slot so you can install up to 2GB of Ram. Getting at the slot to install the extra memory yourself means disassembling the machine, and the slot will only take 1GB, but its still a useful step in the right direction.
Or, with the sticker space, a 21st Century work folder?
Secondly, you get a Gigabit Ethernet port rather than the more commonplace 10/100Mb/s variety usually found on netbooks.
I like it
I bought one of these a couple of weeks ago to use for travelling and I have found it to be fantastic, especially the touchscreen - I now find myself using the touchscreen all the time when using Firefox, Openoffice and Outlook, something that I never thought I would do.
I give this netbook an A-, the only thing stopping it from being an A+ for me are:
- I had to dismantle the laptop to install the second 1GB RAM - why couldn't Dell have given me a 2GB pre-installed option on the website? I hate having to remove laptop keyboards, especially brand new ones.
- I find myself using a stylus from an old PDA but I'm sure I'm going to lose it because the Latitude 2100 touchscreen version doesn't come with a stylus slot. I know that might seem like an odd request for a netbook, but having used the touchscreen for a couple of weeks I really miss having a stylus always available in a little slide-out slot.
By the way, I think there is a tiny inaccuracy in the review - the activity light on the back is not configurable; you have no choice, it is always on.
Please include VAT & delivery charges in your reviews
Hateful Dell charge £20 for delivery, bumping up the ACTUAL price of the base model to £317.40. At that price things like its miserly 80 GB hard disk start to seem like poor value. They even have the audacity to charge £16 (less VAT, of course) if you would like one in blue, green, red or yellow as opposed to the default black!
"It's a unique netbook feature as far as we know and we have to ask why it hasn't been done before."
Not a netbook, but Apple's 1998/9 Powerbooks Wall Street and Pismo were rubber covered.
I rather like it
Just to be different. I like angular stuff, why does everything have to be curved these days? I like the rubberised coating, no creasy fingerprints all over a shiny surface. Yes, the spec is pretty mediocre, but if all you're going to use it for is surf the web and a bit of office now and again, who needs super-dooper processing power? If I had some spare cash (damn economy!) I'd snap one up tomorrow.
It's a real shame its not dockable, I would have been tempted to buy one otherwise. Presumably that's why its not called the E2100, as only the E-Series are dockable in the current range.
Maybe they were worried about cannibalizing potential sales of 'proper' Latitudes, although I can't believe that many enterprise sales would have been lost to an Atom-powered netbook like this.