Dell Inks Big Netbook Deals With Schools

Dell is trying to pull a fast one on the competition by getting ahead on the valuable back-to-school notebook frenzy, only this time with netbooks. The company is offering schools the opportunity to take up on their Latitude 2100 netbooks together with private cloud computing software supplied by Stoneware. The webNetwork software gives schools their own cloud computing environment that will help deliver contents and centralize teaching subjects.

Dell announced it has, so far, inked deals with 500 school districts across the USA to supply thousands of K-12 students with its Latitude 2100 netbooks. Dell couldn’t be happier about it: “This fall, the Latitude 2100 will make access to customized, affordable technology a reality for thousands of schools across the country. Our focus now is on continuing to work with students and teachers to design and develop K12 technologies that enable our students to better learn, achieve and compete.” said Mark Horan, VP and General Manager, Dell K12 Education.  The Latitude 2100 is a 10.1-inch Atom-based netbook that has some extra features – both software and hardware – for a school environment. For example, we were reading through the tech specs and came across “two Kensington locks”. That sounds a bit like overkill, until we actually looked at a picture of the netbook. The Kensington locks – located on each side of the netbook’s hinges allow you to put on a strap for easy carrying. Another teen-proof feature is the rubberized exterior that will provide some much-wanted protection from the abuses of teenage life.

The Dell package also includes its Mobile Computing Station, a pushcart loaded with technology that stores and powers up to 24 netbooks. It also features a Linksys wireless N router which keeps netbooks connected to the school’s wireless network. This way the IT crowd can perform system maintenance and updates overnight.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Governor Schwarzenegger in California had already committed to eBooks as the full-on replacement for textbooks. On the other hand, without doing away with textbooks, a netbook will cost a little more than an eBook, but a lot less than a Mac notebook.  Selling MacBooks to the K-12 and college crowd has been for long Apple’s turf. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple reacts… We can only hope this will spur a Mac netbook into existence.