GCN LAB REVIEW: NETBOOKS

Dell Latitude: A Netbook on the go

The Dell Latitude 2100 offers extra portability options at a smart price for students

Netbooks in this review

Netbooks prove worthy of a second look
The Lab tests six netbook models and finds they have outgrown their low-grade reputation.

Dell Latitude on the go
The Dell Latitude 2100 offers extra portability options at a smart price for students.

Fujitsu designed to shine
Fujitsu M2010's bright screen and impressively loud speakers make it a good choice for multimedia use.

HP Mini but mighty
HP Mini 5101's enhanced communications features make it ideal for wireless or LAN networking.

IdeaPad ideal for budget conscious
Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2's low cost and light weight make it a good value for those watching their wallets.

Sony Vaio netbook a multimedia power
The Sony Vaio W-series is a bit pricey at $500, but it has a lot of extra features and would do well for a user who deals with multimedia on a variety of devices with different types of storage.

Toshiba's Mini is the class of the netbook field
The Toshiba Mini NB205 N210 delivered the best performance at the lowest price, and easily won the Reviewer’s Choice for this roundup.

The Latitude 2100 from Dell is a netbook designed for the classroom. Although many of its features could best be used in such an environment, its weight and size might hamper its portability when it's time to change classes.

The Latitude's weight of 3 pounds, 6 ounces is heavier than that of its counterparts in this roundup. Although it measured only 10.5 inches by 7.5 inches, putting it in the middle of those reviewed, it was 2.25-inches thick where the battery sticks out. That isn’t an issue most of the time, but that dimension is important when packing or shipping the netbook.

The netbook's portability improves when using the optional handle or shoulder strap that connects to the two Kensington locks situated on the back of either side. Of course, you would need to carry the power adapter and optional peripherals in something else. At least the rubber-like texture of the outer casing should resist scratches that might come from carrying it outside a laptop bag.

The Latitude’s keyboard has a good layout, using practically all its width. There are even extra buttons for volume adjustment and muting, which should cut down on the use of the Fn key. Although its touchpad could have been larger, it was still a good size. The display was not the brightest, and it did tend to appear dimmer when looked at an angle.

There is a small LED beside the display that indicates things such as network or disk activity. It could be useful for a teacher who wants to keep students on task. We were also pleased to find that the Latitude’s local-area network port had gigabit capacity.

In our performance tests, the Latitude’s Intel Atom N270 processor achieved a score of 251.2. Although that was second lowest in this review, it was part of a tight second-place grouping. It lasted 4 hours, 28 minutes in our rigorous battery life test, which put it in the upper half of the roundup.

The Dell Latitude 2100 costs $473 as configured for this review, which we felt was a good price for a netbook with the extra portability options it provides. It would do well in any educational setting.

Pros: Decent battery life.
Cons: Heaviest in review.
Performance: A-
Battery life: B+
Ergonomics: A
Portability: B
Features: B+
Value: B+
Price: $473

Dell, 800-727-1100, www.dell.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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