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May 19, 2009

Dell Targets Younger Students with New Netbook

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Hoping to appeal to younger buyers, Dell is launching a new netbook just for kids.
Dell (News - Alert) unveiled its new Latitude 2100 at an event today in Australia. The kid-friendly netbook is designed for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. And from its appearance, youngsters will be hard pressed to turn away from them.

The Latitude 2100 comes in a variety of colors– School Bus Gold, Chalkboard Black, Ball Field Green, Blue Ribbon and Schoolhouse Red. Users can also personalize the back of the battery pack, Dell said in a company announcement. What’s more, the device is made for rough handling because it is rubberized.
The Latitude 2100 features a 10-inch screen, a keyboard and comes with touch screen capability. The netbook can run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP and Vista operating systems and the Ubuntu (News - Alert) version of Linux. Users can also add a Web camera.
The new models, pictured below, are part of Dell’s latest move to attract a younger crowd. Dell specifically is marketing the Internet-ready laptops to schools, a key move to boost sales and gain acceptance in a time when consumers aren’t spending as freely.
Dell Chief Executive Michael Dell told the AP that computers in classrooms are a crucial ingredient to better schooling.
"There's no question that technology can play a role in improving outcomes for students," Michael Dell said in an interview. "This is not to say that putting computers and (information technology) systems in schools solves all problems — there's no chance of that. But it is to say that, look, these are required skills that people need to be successful."
 Netbooks appear to be growing in popularity because the computer acts like a laptop, but it’s less expensive and smaller. Close to 35 million netbooks are expected to ship this year. That number will rise to 135 million by 2013, according to an ABI Research report.
The growing field of competitors has out netbook creator Taiwan-based Asustek Computer Inc. struggling to keep up the pace. As TMC recently reported, netbooks are emerging as the lone bright spot as the consumer electronics industry continues to struggle against a sour economy. Yet, the price tag (News - Alert) may have some people holding on to their wallets. The Latitude 2100 is priced at $369, the AP reports.
 In comparison, competitor Verizon (News - Alert) recently launched the HP Mini 1151NR, which sells for $200 after a $50 mail-in rebate and a new, two-year activation on a Mobile Broadband plan. Meanwhile, AT&T sells Acer (News - Alert) netbooks starting at $99 with a two-year contract.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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