Can Intel's Classmate keep up with Dell's Latitude 2110?

Are netbooks old hat? Or can devices like the Latitude 2110 and Intel Classmate still provide a lot of value in education?

Guess what I just got in the mail? A brand-spanking new Dell Latitude 2110.  I wrote about the 2110 a while back, along with the rest of its "Connected Classroom" hardware/software/professional development educational stack.  Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of Intel's latest Classmate (and the whole Classmate Ecosystem for that matter).  In fact, the Classmate is basically my constant companion, along with my phone, and I no longer bother bringing a full-sized laptop with me anywhere.  Virtually everything I do is on the Net anyway, so I just need a PC (any PC) to work.

There are plenty of times when a PC just isn't convenient or available, though, so out comes the Classmate.  I can take notes by hand if I want on the touchscreen, or type, access documents, browse the web, or whatever.  Skype is no problem, Ustream broadcasts are a snap, and I can hook it up to any projector for impromptu presentations.  It even has an SD card reader and handles HD video well, so I can grab content off most cameras and newer video cameras.  That says nothing of the ecosystem software bundled with it - right now, it just gets carried around by its slick little handle everywhere I go.

So that's great, right? But what if you want to buy from a Tier one OEM? Or you want to leverage a student/teacher buy program with lease financing that only the Dells, HPs, and Apples of the world can provide? What if want to buy into a hardware ecosystem like Dell's or Apple's?  What if you're concerned about reliability or need to buy from a state contract but also want custom imaging and configurations?  This, of course, is where the Latitude 2110 comes in.

The Latitude comes in Dell's usual array of options and, although it can't convert to a tablet form factor, does have an optional touch screen.  The model that shipped to me had a high-resolution monitor instead of a touch screen and a rubberized surface that dared kids to spill something sticky on it.

So since I've embraced the Classmate so thoroughly, I'm going to put the Latitude through its paces for a while.  Now it gets to become my constant companion, when my kids aren't abusing it.  I'll be evaluating it in the context of a Classmate competitor, a netbook in a land increasingly filled with tablets, and a potential 1:1 device.  I'll also be looking at other components of the Connected Classroom and will report occasionally on my latest loaner toy (I mean, educational tool).


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