When subjected to the usual Reg Hardware battery inquisition of playing a standard definition H.264 video through VLC media player at full screen with the Wi-Fi radio on and the screen brightness and volume turned up to max, the 2100 managed four hours and three minutes, which is quite a bit shy of the five hours eight minutes the Mini 10v managed with the same processor and – presumably – same capacity battery.
Video Playback Battery Life Test Results
Battery life in Minutes
Longer bars are better
While the physical integration of the six-cell battery into the 2100's case is still hardly what you'd call subtle, Dell has made more of an effort than it did with the 10 or 10v, both of which look like the larger battery has been stuck on with superglue.
Pricing up a Latitude isn't the easiest of pastimes unless you happen to be buying on behalf of a regional education authority or an IT department that needs several hundred machines. Do it on the regular Dell consumer website and some of the options won't be available – like the 2GB memory in our test machine – and the price will be on the high side. This is because most Latitude sales take place through bespoke sales sites that are set up specifically for bulk buyers with a pre-agreed price structure.
But a senior Dell manager told us that the Latitude sales team are allowed to negotiate, even over a single-unit sale. If you decide to buy three machines – one for you, one for the missus and one for little Johnny or Jennifer - then so much the better. Dust of your best fake French accent, pretend you are buying a carpet in the souq and haggle for all you are worth.
Its rather angular design aside, we think the Latitude 2100 is the best Dell netbook to date. The rubberised coating should ensure long-term survival even in the hands of nippers, while the option of 2GB of Ram, the revised SD card slot design and the solid, well profiled keyboard should appeal to users of more advanced years. The touchscreen is an interesting option and proved more useful than we expected. On the downside, the battery life is a bit on the poor side for a machine with a six-cell unit. ®
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Dell Latitude 2100
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.