Dell Latitude 2100 Review

Discussion in 'Portable & Small Form Factor' started by pyriX, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. pyriX

    pyriX Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
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    Location:
    Brisbane
    Picked a Dell latitude 2100 up off Gray's Online for four hundred or so.

    Apologies in advance for the poor quality photos, I was in a hurry when i took them.

    For those unfamiliar with the Latitude 2100 series, it represents Dell's latest attempt to break their net books into the education and business market. While not quite a svelte as the Dell Mini 9, and let's face it, most other netbooks on the market, the 2100 has a few things that distinguish it from the competition.

    [​IMG]

    First off, the notebook is 'ruggedised.' Not quite rugged, but no sissy either. The construction is *extremely* solid, and the exterior is coated in a sort of criss-crossed pseudo rubbery stuff that makes it easy to grip, and hard to mark. However that, in combination with the matte black finish on my particular model (it comes in many different colour flavours) meant that the notebook could get quite warm when running. Not dangerously warm, but possibly substitute-for-contraceptive warm.

    Secondly, it comes with the option of a touch screen. Personally, I'm a sucker for anything that I can poke and prod my grimy fingers at all day long, and Windows 7 is especially supportive of the touchy feely stuff. The screen isn't multi-touch, which is a shame. Dell neglects to include a stylus, so its time to grow those fingernails out.

    Speaking of Windows 7, it runs like a bloody dream on the lappy. Because I bought it second hand, the auctioneers had nuked the install of XP Home that was on their, and I was torn between Ubuntu NBR and Windows 7. But my other lappy already runs Ubuntu, so I figured I'd roll with Windows 7 for now. Also booted Moblin off a USB stick, but while its visually impressive and stuff mostly works, I needed an OS that's a little more full featured.

    Their are two things that a netbook needs to have to be considered to fall into that category. The first is a low price. New, with all the fancy smancy options that I was shocked to discover my second hand one had (touch screen, 802.11n, Bluetooth, 6 cell battery.), that will set you back around $800. Not exactly the cheapest of the flock.

    The second is size. Sadly, the 2100 isn't the smallest girl at the party either.
    Here is the netbook on top of my IBM T40, a notebook most people are familiar with. Or they're familiar with the T41. Or the T42. Or the T43. They're all the same bloody size (14.1" screen model)
    [​IMG]

    This is a profile shot, and you can see that, if the battery were removed, the two laptops would be much the same thickness. And the 3 cell battery doesn't poke out the bottom like that, but the tradeoff is that you get half the battery life.
    [​IMG]

    Speaking of battery life, the 6 cell gets about 4 hours with the screen brightness on a wee less than half and wireless radio going, browsing the net.

    Nevertheless, the notebook is quite portable, and you won't notice it in your bag, even with the addition of the full size power brick.

    Lastly, a size comparison to everything on my desk. I'm sure you can find something there that you know the size of.
    [​IMG]

    As for performance, I can happily report the book is quite snappy with Windows 7, and performed similarly well booting ubuntu and moblin off USB flash drives. Audio output is at least on par with my desktop, and better than the T40, though the inbuilt speakers are mediocre at best (which is only to be expected). The highest encode I had handy was a 720p .mkv of one of the new Stargate Universe episodes, and it played it quite happily.

    Media Centre under Windows 7 is a bit laggy, especially once it starts doing that very cool, but extremely resource intensive album art as background thing that it does.

    The screen is the glossy type, and I can't see that its lost anything for being covered with the touch layer. It remains quite visible outdoors as well, but obviously opting for a matte finish would have been better for that purpose. The screen is unfortunately somewhat limited in its vertical pixel count, coming in at less than 600. This can give many applications a somewhat cramped feel, but is nevertheless quite sufficient, especially if one elects to auto hide the task bar.

    Wireless performance is quite good, and while still not as fast as a wired network, 802.11n is a nice step up from g.

    The keyboard, while not quite IBM quality, is nevertheless, quite usable, and almost full size. Seriously. The actual keyboard part of my G15v2 is 28cm long. The keyboard on this thing is 25cm, and they've taken *most* of that out of the enter/shift/function keys rather than the actual characters, which is nice.

    The trackpad is fairly average size. It's quite usable, but if you elect for the touch screen option, I doubt you'll need it much.

    The only other thing I can really mention about this notebook is upgrade ability. I opened it up (given I didn't have any warranty anyways), and had a poke around. Getting into the chassis is relatively painless, just 6 screws and keyboard away. The 1gb of RAM included by default is soldered onto the board, leaving the one internal slot free for you to stick in the biggest, most stickiest stick you can find. The wireless is similarly accessible, consisting of a little card plugged into the internal PCI-Ex1 slot. Mine came with quite a capacious 160gb SATA hard disk, so you could swap it out for an SSD if you were so inclined.

    Sadly, there are no options for internal 3g wireless cards, so if you seek that, you'll have to use one of the 3 USB ports. However, it does come with bluetooth, so you could pair it up with any phone with a fairly healthy data plan.

    That's about it. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Or not. That's okay too.
     
  2. T-O-D

    T-O-D Member

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    Oct 23, 2003
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    Brisvegas!
    Awesome mini review thanks!

    Just what i was after to send to a coupla people :)
     
  3. rade

    rade Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2002
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    I was reading in a review something about the light on the lid flashing whenever someone was browsing the internet or chatting (supposed to let the teachers know or whatever) just wondering if this happens?
     
  4. OP
    OP
    pyriX

    pyriX Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Messages:
    128
    Location:
    Brisbane
    There is a light on the top that comes on when the wifi is on. It's white, and quite bright, but not overly distracting while using it. I believe there's a BIOS hack floating around to disable it, but haven't bothered looking into it. It doesn't flash either.
     

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