After the success of its Inspiron Mini netbooks, Dell has aimed its next release at the education market. Sold under Dell's corporate Latitude brand, the 2100 is a tough and usable netbook with a range of unique features.

Available in a choice of colours, the textured rubber casing prevents scratches and makes it easy to hold. The chassis is quite bulky, but removable handles and shoulder straps can be added to allow easier transportation. Battery life is average, however, at just 191 minutes.

The 10.1-inch screen uses a matt-TFT finish to reduce reflections, making it ideal for use in the classroom. Images are bright and sharp, but lack the vibrancy of glossy Super-TFT screens. A webcam is integrated into the screen panel.

The keyboard spans the full width of the chassis. All keys are firmly mounted and respond with an accurate, yet slightly spongy action. Interactive touchscreen functionality can also be added for £14.

While our review unit featured a 160GB hard drive, the HDD can be configured up to 250GB or users can opt for up to 16GB of SSD storage. A 3-in-1 card reader is fitted, and an external USB DVD rewriter is also available to buy as an optional extra.

Performance is standard netbook fare, thanks to the Intel Atom N270 processor, and is more than capable for school use and basic office tasks. Dell offers a choice of Windows XP and Vista operating systems at the time of purchase.

Three USB ports and a VGA-out port are in place. 802.11g Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth are also included as standard. 802.11n Wi-Fi is available as an additional extra and a network activity light on the screen lid alerts teachers to students browsing the internet during class. With great usability and features, the Latitude 2100 is an unusual, yet highly usable, netbook. Overall, it has just as much to offer to consumer and business users as it does to students.

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