I liked everything about Dell's Latitude 2100 netbook—I think it's designed pretty smartly for its target K-12 audience—except for the price. It's $370, which is a bit high for an education netbook, no?
It's "student-rugged," meaning it doesn't meet any kind of ruggedized specification, but it'll take more of a beating than a regular notebook, with a body that's rubberized all the way around, and an optional anti-microbial keyboard for fighting off swine flu and other foul organisms that thrive on the primordial ooze perpetually coating children's nasty hands.
One thing the kids won't like is a network activity light built into the top lid, so there's no covert web browsing, unless the teacher's blind. But there are five different colors and accessories like shoulder straps to make it easy to lug around. The guts are standard fare for a netbook—Atom N270, yadda yadda.
The reason it's got the Latitude name is that it can be remotely managed like enterprise notebooks—and there's a Mobile Computing Station that'll dock 24 of them using a single ethernet cable and power cord, obviously designed for the classroom.
I like the idea of classrooms filled with these—or any netbook really—and there's a lot of thoughtful stuff going on here, but $369 before any of the add-ons just feels like maybe too much. There's probably a discount for buying in bulk that might make it more reasonable, but it's a high ceiling to come down from, given the booger-filled target market, it seems. Though obviously way cheaper than giving a full-sized laptop, for sure.
What is the magic price to give every student in every classroom a computer?
DELL DELIVERS INDUSTRY FIRSTS WITH 10.1-INCH NETBOOK DESIGNED FOR EDUCATION
• Dell believes every child should have access to the world of knowledge beyond the classroom
• The new Latitude2100 is influenced by the needs of K-12 students – ‘student rugged' design offered in five colors with wireless connectivity that can be monitored by educators with a network activity light
• Optional touchscreen is a first for education netbooks
• Custom-built Mobile Computing Station equips classrooms with a cart to store, manage and network up to 24 netbooks with one Ethernet and power cord
• The Latitude 2100 will also appeal to other public-sector and enterprise customers looking for a netbook for uses from employee training to order fulfillment, or wanting secondary systems for their workforces
• Backed by Dell's award-winning business-class service and support – including optional onsite services
ROUND ROCK, Texas, May 19, 2009 – Dell believes every child should have the opportunity and tools to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the digital world. Critical to this is the availability of technology designed for the unique needs of K-12 students, teachers and school administrators. Today, Dell set a new standard in education technology with the launch of a netbook influenced by the needs of K-12 students, the Latitude™ 2100. The Latitude 2100 is also ideal for any business or public institution that needs affordable, durable, Internet-ready devices for email and collaboration.
Inspired by close cooperation with hundreds of students, teachers, parents and administrators, Dell designers created a purpose-built education netbook that focuses on what's most important – learning. The Latitude 2100 is part of Dell's connected classroom ― innovative technology products, services, software and training that make learning in the digital age a reality. With the Latitude 2100, students can access enhanced learning resources and digital content on a school network or via the Internet. As a result, the Latitude 2100 blends into student life, from lesson plans to homework, increasing time spent learning versus managing technology.
The Latitude 2100 has unique features for schools like bright primary colors and a more rugged, ‘rubberized' design that is easier for children to carry and use safely. It also offers wireless connectivity that can be monitored by the teacher with a Network Activity Light on the netbook lid. An optional touchscreen is a first for an education netbook and makes the Latitude 2100 a perfect choice for enhanced student interaction, assessment, and for special education teaching. The Latitude 2100 also offers administrators a range of services making it easier to deploy and manage.
Additional options include: a keyboard featuring antimicrobial protection (U.S. only), solid-state drives, quick-connect handles and shoulder straps for carrying, and a webcam. The Latitude 2100 is backed by Dell's award-winning business service and support.
The Latitude 2100 extends Dell's Latitude range and joins the Latitude XT tablet and fully rugged Latitude E6400 XFR as systems designed to meet the exacting needs of customers across a range of private and public-sector organizations with specific mobile computing requirements. Enterprises and public-sector customers looking for a business-class netbook will be attracted to the Latitude 2100 for activities ranging from employee training to order fulfillment or when a secondary system is required by their workforce.
• The "student-rugged" Latitude 2100 is designed to absorb the daily bumps and bruises of a crowded playground or backpack. Offered in five colors – School Bus Gold, Chalkboard Black, Ball Field Green, Blue Ribbon and Schoolhouse Red– the Latitude 2100 comes with a 10.1-inch screen and a unique "four-square-ball-style" rubber casing, making it easy for little hands to grip the netbook.
• The system is available with a personalized window on the back of the battery pack where the school logo or name can be displayed, allowing schools to personalize or easily identify systems.
• Equipped with a wireless communication suite and optional webcam, the Latitude 2100 enables productive days filled with collaboration, exploration and easy uploading of assignments. A Network Activity Light on the lid helps teachers monitor network use and identify students who may be surfing the Internet.
• The Latitude 2100 also includes:
o Choice of XP Home, Vista Home Basic and Linux Ubuntu
o Intel Atom processor N270
o 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity coupled with a full suite of wireless communication options
o 2.91lb* (1.32kg) starting at weight with 3-cell battery
o Hard or solid state drives for increased durability
o Three-cell or six-cell battery
o Three-in-one Media Card Reader
o Optional External DVD+/-RW via USB
o VGA port
o Clean bottom is vent-free to avoid any intrusion from spills
o Options: webcam and a keyboard featuring antimicrobial protection (U.S. only)
• Key management features can allow IT administrators to lower overall ownership cost and speed up deployment:
o More durable design that means a longer product life
o Remote management for easier administration
o Dell ImageDirect where systems can be delivered with pre-installed software and the school's specific network image (U.S. only).
o Hardware Customization helps reduce deployment time by configuring software straight from the factory (U.S. only). This reduces the need for the administrator to physically touch the system and speeds up getting it in the hands of the students.
• Coming soon in the U.S., the Latitude 2100 is available with a Mobile Computing Station that equips classrooms with a cart to store securely, manage and network up to 24 netbooks with one Ethernet and power cord.
• The system is available today, and starts at $369. More information is available at www.dell.com/latitude.