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The average consumer laptop found there simply doesn’t provide the customization and service that you’ll need, whether you’re looking for one unit or for a whole fleet. Instead, you should shop online at a large vendor’s site, or at an authorized local reselle

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Www.batteryfast.co.uk top-tips-you-should-consider-choosing-a-laptop-for-your-small-business

  1. 1. December 23, 2011 batteryfast.co.uk Top Tips You Should Consider, Choosing a Laptop for Your Small Business I f you’re shopping for a business laptop for your If you’re simply looking to replace a PC that sits on small-to-medium-size operation at your local big- your desk all the time, then a 17-inch unit is probably box store, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The best suited for such replacement duty, and you can average consumer laptop found there simply doesn’t also skip most of the subsequent discussion other provide the customization and service that you’ll than the section on security. need, whether you’re looking for one unit or for a whole fleet. Instead, you should shop online at a Durability large vendor’s site, or at an authorized local reseller. You don’t want your hefty investment breakinghttp://www.batteryfast.co.uk/battery-technology/top-tips-you-should-consider-choosing-a-laptop-for-your-small-business/ Rolling out even a small fleet of laptops requires down or falling apart on you after only limited use. a reliable stream of parts and replacement units, A solidly constructed laptop will save you money otherwise known as a stable platform. While it’s in the long run. corporations that demand those features, they are certainly of benefit to SMBs. The less time you Case: How rugged your laptop needs to be depends spend in maintainance, the more time you can spend upon its size and how you use it. Plastic is fine for concentrating on growing your business. Read on a laptop that doesn’t travel much; however, plastic for the features and specs you should be looking for. tends to flex too much–especially on Ultrabooks and (You may also want to take a look at the laptop results thin-and-lights. Most vendors will hype the use of for our 2011 Reliability and Satisfaction survey.) aluminum and magnesium, which are indeed more rugged and stiffer to prevent internal component If you have questions about laptop basics, such as flexing. Metals also shed chip-killing heat far better which category, CPU, or display you need, please than plastic. head to our consumer laptop buying guide first. Hard Drive: The component most prone to damage Form/Laptop Type is the hard drive–a delicate mechanism, and espe- cially vulnerable when spinning. Any business lap- Laptops come in various sizes, from netbook to des- top using a traditional hard drive should provide ktop replacement. Which type you need obviously shock insulation, as well as a sensor that can detect depends on how you will use it. If you travel a lot, a fall and park the heads on the hard drive before you should be looking at an ultraportable with a 12- impact. In some cases, such as with Seagate’s Mo- inch screen size, or perhaps a 13.3-inch or 14-inch mentus FDE drives, this sensing takes place within mainstream laptop. Super-lightweight Ultrabooks– the drive itself. a term Intel has trademarked–are a new category of models that are extremely easy to tote around Alternatively, a solid-state drive (SSD) with no mo- (think Macbook Air), but slightly compromised in ving parts is a good option, especially if you know their connectivity and integrated peripherals; they’ll you’ll be working in hazardous (for the laptop) likely lack an internal optical drive, for example. conditions. SSDs are relatively expensive, but far cheaper than a data recovery service. Also, while Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 joliprint.com/mag Page 1
  2. 2. December 23, 2011 batteryfast.co.uk Top Tips You Should Consider, Choosing a Laptop for Your Small Business more capacious 500GB and 750GB hard drives look took full advantage of the human condition with good on a spec sheet, for a purely business laptop the naming convention. that won’t be used for entertainment, such high capacities are usually overkill. Security Using both a smaller, more affordable SSD internally Security is important, but don’t overbuy if you don’t and an external 2.5-inch external hard drive for have anything to protect. If you do have sensitive multimedia purposes is a good compromise. data on your laptop, which most business users will, consider one or a combination of the following fea- Keyboard and Touchpad: The modern trend towards tures. breathable keyboards is a bit of an issue–as anyone who’s ever spilled coffee on a laptop can attest. Brea- TPM: The Trusted Platform Module. This discrete thable, ventilated keyboards allow heat to escape, chip (it’s also a specification) provides hardware but anywhere air can go, liquid can too. Although it encryption keys, passwords, and other features thathttp://www.batteryfast.co.uk/battery-technology/top-tips-you-should-consider-choosing-a-laptop-for-your-small-business/ can take a while for liquid to seep down, you should are employed to lock down your laptop and help always immediately remove the battery when a spill secure encryption. In conjunction with the BIOS, it occurs. You may then proceed to let things dry out. basically locks the hardware configuration in your laptop. Other than survivability, never underestimate the long-term effect that the feel of the keyboard and BitLocker: With this standard, data is encrypted at the response of the touchpad and buttons will have the volume level (such as the C: drive). It’s available on your satisfaction with your laptop purchase. If with Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, and works you do a lot of typing, as many business users will, on its own or in conjunction with a TPM. a keyboard with crisp tactile feedback is a must. Self-Encrypting Drive (SED): These drives perform Operating System their own hardware encryption but rely on the TPM, BIOS, or a software component for a password. Though it’s tempting for a small business to buy the cheaper Home versions of Microsoft Windows, Fingerprint scanner: Biometric fingerprint scanners that’s usually a mistake. The Home versions lack are more secure than passwords because your prints encryption, don’t play well on network domains, can’t be stolen or hacked, at least not via any non- won’t back up across a network without third-party morbid scenario. They’re also easier in that you software, and aren’t multilingual. don’t have to remember to bring your fingers. It’s the domain issue that affects larger businesses Smart card: A Smart card is basically the same thing If you use nothing but peer-to-peer networking and as an entry card for an office building, only in this employ your own backup program, the Home ver- case it’s for your laptop. It’s about the most secure sions are doable, if not optimal. way of locking down your notebook, but you must remember to remove that card and carry it around There is also a very real snob factor in play. If you’re with you for it to be effective. trying to impress a business prospect, don’t let them see you with a home version of Windows 7. Microsoft All business laptop vendors include utilities on their machines for setting up various security features. Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 joliprint.com/mag Page 2
  3. 3. December 23, 2011 batteryfast.co.uk Top Tips You Should Consider, Choosing a Laptop for Your Small Business Graphics, Ports, and Connectivity your laptop and what you see on the display, but the convenience can be addicting. Data Ports: An eSATA or USB 3.0 port will drasti- cally speed up backups to an external hard drive, or loading or offloading large amounts of data. If you deal with large files or data sets, look for such ports. Otherwise, USB 2.0 is fine, if not optimal, es- pecially with the plethora of online backup solutions available. Wi-Fi: These days, no laptop ships without at least 801.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. However, you should check your office environment to see if it uses 5GHz 802.11a,http://www.batteryfast.co.uk/battery-technology/top-tips-you-should-consider-choosing-a-laptop-for-your-small-business/ which has long been a mainstay of business Wi-Fi GPU: In most cases, a discrete graphics chip isn’t networks. The 5GHz band is now also being used necessary; the graphics integrated into the latest on many consumer routers to separate traffic onto CPUs offered by Intel and AMD are more than ade- two discrete networks. 802.11a is a plus for business quate for business tasks. The exceptions are some laptops, though not always necessary. of the weaker Atom processors found in netbooks, which aren’t up to rendering 1080p video smoothly. Ethernet: 10/100 ethernet is still found on laptops, and in most cases is perfectly viable, but it is ra- Video Output: If you’re looking to perform presen- pidly disappearing. Gigabit is faster, and can help tations with your notebook, both the graphics and streaming HD video on busy networks as well as external monitor ports must match up with any making network backups faster–look for it. projectors or displays you’ll be using. Bluetooth: Bluetooth is handy for wirelessly connec- VGA and HDMI outputs are the norm–VGA for ting your phone to your laptop to sync addresses. It backwards compatibility, and HDMI for the best also lets you leverage a favorite Bluetooth headset picture with modern displays. DisplayPort is also for Skype and the like. In some (increasingly rare) fine, as long as you see the DP++ logo, which means cases, it even allows you to tether your phone to you can output HDMI, DVI, and normal VGA using your laptop and use the phone’s data connection. adapters. Broadband: If you’re regularly out of reach of Wi-Fi, WiDi, Intel’s Wireless display interface can also be a broadband connection like the one on your phone handy for presentations as it obviates the need for is a good thing to have. Some laptops have integra- running cables, something that can be awkward in ted broadband antennas so you can use an internal many circumstances. It also frees you from having adapter. Otherwise, you’ll need a USB dongle for to wait in the queue for a particular meeting room. the service you use. An external WiDi adapter for the TV is required, PC Card, Express slots: While PC Card and Express and there is a small lag between what you’ll see on slots have largely vanished from mainstream lap- tops, they are still widely available in business mo- Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 joliprint.com/mag Page 3
  4. 4. December 23, 2011 batteryfast.co.uk Top Tips You Should Consider, Choosing a Laptop for Your Small Business dels. If you have legacy card devices such as a smart streaming media services and broadband connec- card reader, or a Firewire card, make sure the laptop tions proliferating, you can probably meet your you buy has the slot you need. entertainment and software installation needs wi- thout one. SDHC/MMC: This slot allows for superportable re- movable storage as well as making it easy to load Unless you regularly burn disks for clients, you’re photos and video from digital cameras. If you rely probably better off with an external USB optical heavily on photos or video in your business, a SDHC/ drive that you can leave at home when you don’t MMC slot is a must-have feature. A MemoryStick need it. or MS might also be useful if you’re a Sony user, as Sony uses proprietary memory formats. Parts Availability, Platform Stability Port Adapters: All of the above ports are certainly Mainstream consumer laptops are produced, then more convenient when integrated; however, Wi- set adrift whenever the next best thing shows up,http://www.batteryfast.co.uk/battery-technology/top-tips-you-should-consider-choosing-a-laptop-for-your-small-business/ Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and SDHC/MMC (as well even when styling or technology take only a minor as other cards) can also be implemented easily via step forward. It can be very hard to find a replace- appropriate USB adapters. ment laptop or parts for a consumer machine just a short time after you buy one. Peripherals Vendors take special care with business laptops to Travel mice and headphones, as well as flash and op- make sure that parts are readily available for an ex- tical drives, are items you should consider carrying tended period of time and that models don’t change around with you on your travels. Most laptop ven- drastically. Typically, basic designs won’t alter all dors will be happy to sell them, but they’re readily that significantly over three to five years, and specific available online at vendors such as Newegg, Ama- models can remain available in production for as zon, and elsewhere in more variety. long as two years. Travel Mouse: If you spend a considerable amount The long shelf life means that you can be sure that of time using your laptop, a mouse goes a long way replacement units and parts are readily available towards achieving that desktop feel and speeding and that your company won’t have to worry about up your workflow. compatibility with upgraded versions. A homoge- nous laptop fleet is far easier and cheaper to support Headphones: Headphones or ear buds are essential than an ad-hoc array of machines. to being able to hear what’s happening on your lap- top when you’re on a plane or other noisy vehicle. Dell’s Latitudes and Lenovo’s ThinkPads are good examples of corporate laptop lines. If you desire this Flash Drives: Flash drives are the preferred medium kind of stability, you’ll pay quite a bit more, but the for backing up or storing data securely. You can peace of mind can be worth it. find a host of thumb drives that meet the FIPS-140 standard for data encryption and security. Warranty Optical Drive: Some laptops still offer internal op- Most business laptops offer warranties that go far tical drives, and they’re a must for installing some beyond the usual one year offered on consumer software or watching movies on DVD or Blu-ray units–usually, three years standard with options discs. That said, the technology is fading, and with up to five years. Three years is about the average Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 joliprint.com/mag Page 4
  5. 5. December 23, 2011 batteryfast.co.uk Top Tips You Should Consider, Choosing a Laptop for Your Small Business lifespan for a small business notebook, as SMB users are more apt to retire them in lieu of something more modern. However, five years is not beyond the service life of corporate units, especially these days, with per- formance having long ago exceeded “fast enough” for everyday business tasks. Service Corporations generally rely on their own IT de- partments for service, but smaller businesses need vendor-provided 24/7 telephone support, as well ashttp://www.batteryfast.co.uk/battery-technology/top-tips-you-should-consider-choosing-a-laptop-for-your-small-business/ depot and on-site service. These kinds of service are especially important for users who travel frequently, and are not available with a consumer laptop, except as provided by the reseller, few of whom have any international scope. The key to buying the correct level of service is mat- ching it to your worst-case scenario. If it’s possible you could be stuck in a strange city where you don’t speak the language or know your way around, on- site service is invaluable. Alternatively, overnight shipping of a replacement or of parts would be ade- quate if you have decent technical chops. If you never leave town and there’s a repair center nearby, then buying such service levels would be massive overkill. Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a comment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this delivered auto- matically to your feed reader. Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 joliprint.com/mag Page 5