When buying a new laptop or tablet for a specific business use case; there are a few questions that should be asked of an end-user before a machine is purchased. The first question or consideration is what we would call “machine class“. As laptops are made in a variety of different form factors; the form factor or class of machine should be matched to the use case.
5 Primary Classes of Laptops/Tablets
Mini – Very small laptops for those concerned about carrying a large or regular sized machine through airports, etc. These often have very small screens, and thus may not be appropriate for everyone. Screens may be as small as 10-13 inches or less.
Standard – The stereotypical laptop class or form factor. This class of laptops typically have an approx. 15.6″ screen.
Large Screen – Generally the most powerful (processor/graphics) but also the largest/heaviest. Engineers, artists, and those who edit video will likely want this style of machine; as this class of machine is often the only class that offers souped up graphics cards. This class of machine will have the largest monitors available on a laptop and often also have a numeric keypad. Some users buy this class of machine purely for the numeric keypad. These typically have 17″ or larger screens.
Tablet – Generally do not come with a keyboard; thus one typically must use an on-screen keyboard or stylus.
Hybrid w/ Tablet Features – These will often fold over, allowing the user to use the device like a tablet as well as a laptop. Some models allow for detachable keyboard while most will have touch screens. Screens typically range in size from 10″ – 17″.
Other Considerations for Business Users
Quality: AVAREN tries where possible to specify and purchase only “business class” equipment for our customers; as we have learned from experience that buying low end or consumer class equipment will often provide a user with a poorer user experience.
Processor Speeds: Ideally only i5 (or better) processors should be purchased currently for businesses. i3 processors should be avoided as they perform relatively poorly even when new.
Solid State Disks: SSD disks are a newer storage technology that are much faster than the hard drives we used in the past. For performance reasons, all laptops purchased (as of 2018) should come with (or AVAREN should install after purchase) an SSD drive. Neglecting to purchase or install an SSD disk in most new machines will handicap the machine and make it perform much more poorly than is necessary. SSD disks are often more expensive on a per gigabyte basis than old style hard drives. Because of this, some users with large storage requirements may require additional external or other drives. For more information on SSD drives and what makes them different from the hard disks we have used in the past, please see this article. https://www.avaren.com/what-are-ssds-or-solid-state-hard-drives-disks/
Operating System: Unless determined that your business can use the “Home” version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, generally only “Pro” versions of the operating system should be purchased for businesses. Only the “Pro” versions of the operating system will correctly integrate with Microsoft network hierarchy (Active Directory) functions.
External Connectivity: Many laptops are designed with a limited number of external ports (Ethernet, USB, video, etc.). A docking station (which can provide additional external connectivity options) may also be needed for some users. When selecting a laptop, try to ensure that the necessary external connectivity options have been contemplated. Also consider additional options such as Bluetooth and projector connectivity, etc.
To recap, the single most important characteristic to get right when purchasing a new laptop is “machine class” or form factor. After this we try to make sure the machine is of a better build quality than typical of “consumer” grade, and has the right specifications for the particular use case. Should you require additional help after reading this article, feel free to reach out to us for further assistance. 214-379-4200.