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Dell Latitude 2100 Netbook review

Ardjuna Seghers



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Pegged as a netbook "designed for education" (despite also being available for businesses), we've been waiting to get our hands on Dell's Latitude 2100 for quite some time - not because we want to go back to school, but because in the relatively boring world of netbooks, the 2100 offers a breath of fresh air.

Okay, maybe it's more like a whiff than a breath, as inside its chassis you'll find the same Atom N270 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 160GB hard drive as 90 per cent of other netbooks currently available. But this is definitely more than 'just another netbook'.

To achieve "student-rugged" status, Dell has coated its educational machine in a hardwearing rubber finish top and bottom, leaving the sides in textured matte black plastic. This not only feels great, but provides a solid grip and also cushions the machine against bumps, scrapes and impacts. Even the battery, which is released with a huge soft-touch switch, has its own coat of rubber.

Just because it's aimed at the educational and business market doesn't mean it's too boring either, as in addition to the default Chalkboard Black the 2100 can be had in a range of colours including Blue Ribbon, Ballfield Green, Schoolhouse Red and Schoolbus Gold for £16 extra (keep in mind though that since this is an educational/business product all upgrade prices are exclusive of VAT).

If opting for the six-cell rather than three-cell battery - and at only £16 extra you'd be nuts not to, unless you're buying in large quantities - the Latitude 2100 is also easily the fattest netbook we've encountered. At 35mm the machine itself isn't exactly slim, but the six-cell battery lifts it up another 20mm at the back, angling the keyboard.

Because of the larger battery's unusual shape you're going to have a hard time fitting this into many bags' standard laptop/netbook compartments. However, to either side of the hinge are two slots for another of the Latitude 2100's unique education-targeted features: they allow you to attach a shoulder carrying strap, so a bag may not be necessary. Unfortunately this strap wasn't included with our review sample, so we can't comment on its comfort or usability.

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August 29, 2009, 1:57 pm

If you're going to carry a notebook around on a strap like a bag in full public view I would recommend carrying a personal safety alarm and then taking out personal items insurance.

Ben MacLeod

April 24, 2014, 7:48 pm

Extremely poor netbook. Our school purchased about 350 of these pieces of junk and unlike the review saying the computer is "rugged", it only looks rugged. Really they never did their homework on what the modern classroom requires. These computers need proper cooling as a classroom generally gets quite hot with a bunch of kids sitting around. As well, the rubber along the outside of the device can easily peel off and to get any performance out of these machines their CPU needs to be maxed constantly which creates a ton of heat even though it is running an Intel Atom. These computers ONLY can run XP which is now defunct and out of date and no longer supported and I HIGHLY recommend you NEVER buy one of these computers and do not even bother trying to load Windows 8 because 7 absolutely rapes this cheap piece of heavy plastic. And the keyboard SUCKS. Anyone without slender fingers like myself cannot type on the keyboard without acquiring cramps in their hands. The integrated graphics can only display 800 x 600 display resolution which makes the VGA port pointless as it cannot display a decent resolution for even the most basic monitors. The best part of this machine is the 3 USB ports. That's ALL I like about it. It heats up, takes forever to boot, when I wiggle the mouse around the CPU snoops right up to 100% pretty quick. The only reason I would purchase one for myself would be to run Linux and maybe break the piece of crap. This thing is just a common piece of Dell marketing that makes the school board sprint to their bean counters with an appealing look. This is where my tax dollars went. And that's definitely not a good thing. It's more of a safety hazard since when they sit in our school's basement the cheap plastic has grown mould on the body of the computer. Have fun, they're $20 bucks on eBay for a reason.

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