Sadly, buying from Dell's Latitude range doesn't give you total access to the Dell parts bin, so while you can have an 80, 160 or 250GB HDD, or an 8 or 16GB SDD, you can't have a 1366 x 789 screen. 2GB of Ram? Not a problem. Built in GPS or digital TV tuner? Alas not, but you can have Ubuntu 8.10 as your OS and a 1.3Mp webcam.
Longer bars are better
The PCMark05 numbers we got from a 2100 fitted with 2GB of memory, Windows XP and a 160GB 5400rpm Sata hard drive were exactly what you would expect from an N270-powered machine with that amount of memory, the CPU test being almost exactly average but the memory and HDD tests being slightly better.
Incidentally, we have spent time with an identical machine fitted with Vista Home Basic and can report that it ran with a fair old lick of speed.
With an Atom processor and associated Intel GPU under the hood, HD video playback is a bit of a struggle but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that installing the CoreAVC H.264 codec enabled Windows Media Player to run a 1080p file at full screen with no problem at all. Sound quality also benefits from Dell's decision to put the stereo speakers either side of the screen as per the Samsung N120 rather than bury them in the chassis.
The six-cell battery still pokes rather
Though you might expect the batteries fitted to the Latitude and Inspiron Mini to be the same, you'd be wrong. While the 2100's three-cell battery holds more energy than the Mini's: 28Wh versus 24Wh The six-cell unit holds less: 54Wh versus 56Wh. At least that's what Dell says. When we yanked the six-cell unit out of our 2100 it read 56Wh 11.1v, exactly the same as the battery that came with our Mini 10v.
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.