Super-restrictive netbooks boast more parental control
Dell has launched a new netbook designed especially for children - the Latitude 2100. There are many features that will certainly appeal to kids: it has a 10.1-inch touchscreen, weighs just 2.91 lbs, and comes in a choice of five colors. A built-in shoulder strap and quick-connect handles make it easier to carry around. A special slot on the hinge allows children to personalize their computer by entering their name, school, etc.
Other kid-friendly features include a tough rubber exterior, and an anti-microbial keyboard helps prevent the spread of germs. Kids might despise it, but parents and teachers will appreciate the network activity light on the lid, which begins flashing when a browser or chat application is opened. This feature can't be disabled, so covert web surfing is impossible.
On the more technical side, the Latitude 2100 offers a 80 GB hard drive, up to 1 GB of memory, Bluetooth, wireless LAN and touchpad input. (You can read more about its specs on the Dell website.) Pricing for the Latitude 2100 starts at $369.
The Latitude 2100 has been well-received by reviewers so far. CNET praises the hardy design and gives it a rating of four and a half stars, but says it's a bit cumbersome.
Dell recently announced the release of a Nickelodeon-inspired series, also geared towards children. Weighing less than three pounds, The Inspiron Mini Nickelodeon Edition Netbook is based on Dell's Inspiron Mini 10v netbook. The "green slime" motif is particularly eye-catching, and equally splashy designs based on SpongeBob SquarePants and iCarly are forthcoming. These netbooks include educational software and parental controls.
Dell's netbooks have some competition: the Netpal by Asus, Disney's branded netbook, is marketed to the 6 to 12 age demographic. The Netpal comes in a choice of two colors: "Princess Pink" or "Magic Blue." It's equipped with a spill-proof keyboard and Asus' ShockSheild, which protects data in the likely event of a drop. An all-Disney interface should appeal to kids, while adults can be reassured by advanced parental controls. The Disney Netpal is priced at $350.
See our report on netbooks for more on small computers starting about about $250.