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Linux-ready netbook touted as “Student rugged”

May 19, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Dell is readying a netbook for the K-12 educational market with a rubberized case and an optional touchscreen. Incorporating an Intel Atom N270 with 1GB RAM, the Latitude 2100 offers a 10.1-inch display, WiFi, gigabit Ethernet, up to 250GB storage, and Ubuntu Linux, says Dell.

(Click for larger view of the Latitude 2100)

While focusing primarily on the K-12 market, the Latitude 2100 is also a good fit for corporate applications including employee training or order fulfillment, says Dell. Features aimed at the K-12 environment include optional touchscreen, webcam, and lock slots. There are also five primary colors available, as well as a personalized labeling window for easy identification. A network activity light is included that enables teachers to easily spot when a student is using the WiFi connection.

Latitude 2100

For increased durability, the netbooks offer a “four-square-ball-style” rubber-covered case that makes the netbook easier to grip and protects it from drops. Just in case, an optional carrying strap is also provided, and as a final defense against classroom mayhem, solid-state drive (SSD) options are available. The bottom of the unit lacks vents, in order to avoid intrusion from spills, and in the U.S., an optional keyboard featuring antimicrobial protection is offered.

Dell Mobile Computing Station
(Click to enlarge)

The Latitude 2100 ships with remote management software that enables features including Wake-on-LAN, Alert Standard Format, and Microsoft's Systems Management Server. In addition, the netbooks will soon be offered in the U.S. with an optional Dell Mobile Computing Station, a specialized cart system designed to ease the process of storing, charging, and managing up to 24 netbooks at once. Students can store the units in charging slots, which are also configured to enable IT administrators to remotely update the computers with new software at night. (See the video farther below for more on the Latitude 2100 and Mobile Computing Station.)

Student-rugged features include
rubberized four-ball design
and vent-free bottom

(Click to enlarge)

Underneath the educational features, the Latitude 2100 is fairly similar in spec to Dell's 10.1-inch Inspiron Mini 10 and new Inspiron Mini 10V netbooks. It is far from a clone, however, and offers a faster Ethernet port (10/100/1000Mbps), higher resolution (1280 x 576), and a distinctive tapered design that ranges in thickness from 0.9 to 1.6 inches.

Like the Mini netbooks, the Latitude 2100 is equipped with the Intel Atom N270 clocked at 1.6GHz, along with an Intel 945 GS Express Chipset. The netbook ships with 1GB, but upgrades to 2GB are possible, as is flash expansion via a memory card slot. Storage options range up to a 250GB hard disk drive (HDD), or else customers can opt for the aforementioned 16GB SSD option and back up files to a server.

Connectivity includes the gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 2.0 ports, Bluetooth, and WiFi, with an option for the faster, longer range 802.11n variety. Like the Inspiron Mini netbooks, it is available with Ubuntu Linux. Dell appears to be sticking to its Linux support, despite several other major netbook vendors now offering new models with Windows XP only.

Latitude 2100 in primary colors

Specifications listed for the Latitude 2100 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz; 512KB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB; Intel 945 GS Express Chipset
  • Memory — 1GB DDR2, expandable to 2GB
  • Flash expansion — 3-in-1 card reader
  • Storage — up to 250GB HDD, or up to 16GB SSD; optional USB-based DVD+/-RW drive
  • Display — 10.1-inch WSVGA (1280 x 576); optional touchscreen; VGA port
  • Networking — 1 x gigabit Ethernet port
  • WiFi — 802.11g; optional 802.11a/g/n
  • USB — 3 x USB 2.0 ports
  • Bluetooth — Dell Wireless 365 Bluetooth 2.1
  • Audio — stereo speakers, digital microphone
  • Other options:
    • Kensington security lock slots
    • Webcam
    • Shoulder straps and carrying handles
    • Antimicrobial keyboard (U.S. only)
    • Dell Mobile Computing Station (U.S. only)
  • Colors — School Bus Gold, Chalkboard Black, Ball Field Green, Blue Ribbon, Schoolhouse Red
  • Power — 3-cell or 6-cell battery; 65W AC adapter
  • Weight — 2.9 lbs (1.32 kg) with 3-cell battery
  • Dimensions — 10.4 x 7.4 x 1.6 inches (265 x 187 x 40mm)
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP Home, Vista Home Basic

A video showing classroom use of the Latitude 2100
Source: Dell
(click to play)


The Dell Latitude 2100 is available today, starting at $370. More information may be found here, and a blog on the netbook may be found here.

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