With its rubber-coated exterior, this $399 Dell is designed with student backpacks in mind. It's thicker than most other netbooks, so it won't fit neatly into a small handbag or purse. In our informal tests, the Latitude withstood bumps well, continuing to play online music from Pandora and Last.FM even while being shaken and knocked around. The Latitude starts at 2.9 pounds, depending on battery configuration, and includes the usual array of ports: three for USB devices and one each for connecting an external monitor, headphones and an Ethernet cable. For those who abhor the old-style gray-black laptop look, Dell offers models in green, red, yellow and blue. The keyboard is spaced comfortably like most Dell laptops, with a wide space bar, which works well for touch-typists. The built-in speakers, though, have thin sound, so if you're an audiophile, plan on springing for external speakers or using headphones. The Latitude has a network-activity light that signals if you're online. That means teachers, parents (or spouses) can monitor whether you're crunching through a spreadsheet or just surfing for cat cartoons.
Weight: 2.9 lb.
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