Dell has introduced a new netbook, the Latitude 2100, aimed at the K-12 market. The netbook (smaller, cheaper, less powerful laptop) computer has an anti-microbial keyboard, a status light to let the teacher know if the student is on the internet, and a carry handle.
The anti-microbial keyboard is coated with a naturally occuring silver material. This is a great idea for classroom computers to help prevent the spread of germs among students.
The 2100 also has a rubberized case to help protect it from falls.
The Linux version starts at $369 and comes with Ubuntu Linux 8.1, an 8GB solid state disk drive, three cell battery (3.5 hours), and weighs 2.9 pounds.
There is a Windows Vista Home basic version which starts at $500. It has a 160GB hard drive, touchscreen, and a six cell battery (7 hrs).
They are available in a variety of colors, which Dell suggests can be used to color code by grade or class.
Dell is also offering a cart ($3900) to store and charge the netbooks.
Netbooks have become more and more popular because of their price and smaller, more portable, form factor. The smaller disk drives and less powerful processors are offset by the fact that most netbooks are used for basic tasks such as word processing, email, and internet use. Many users get around the small disk drives by using cloud based applications and storage, such as Google Apps, or flash drives or memory cards.
The Latitude 2100 appears to be a promising device for schools. For under $400 per unit, a school can get a rugged, very useful device. Ubuntu is the most widely used version of Linux. Students do not have to learn anything new to use Linux. It has a web browser built in and there is free software that does everything students need to do: OpenOffice or Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as a variety of software titles for photo editing, video editing, and more. Google Apps for Education also has more applications that students can use for free. And, since the Google files are stored on Google's servers, you don't take up any memory on the computer.
For more information, go to www.dell.com