Which Computers are Right for Your Business?
More new businesses are choosing notebook computers over desktops for a lot of reasons. The primary reason is it encourages employees to work from home in their off hours if necessary. There are powerful 2.5GHZ speed notebook computers available for nearly as cheap as their desktop counterparts. Using a major business brand such as Toshiba, HP, or IBM (Lenovo) is a smart move, as is getting some extra warranty against breaking. Notebook computers break more often as they’re more apt to slip and hit the floor. If you’re going to have a secure network at your business you might need notebooks with business specs to enable easy file sharing and security rules. You may need to talk to a networking consultant about that.
Data security is something you’re going to want to carefully consider. If your staff will be carrying around notebooks with customer data on them, or sensitive company data you don’t want to hit the street you should look into finger print readers. Configure them correctly and nobody can get to the data on the hard drive without scanning the fingerprint. The data is encrypted and safe. I love this feature on my notebook.
Keep in mind this article is focused on cost-effective choices and not someone with an unlimited budget. The specifications I list here will work for someone that does and doesn’t have an online business too. I cover only PC’s in this article, not Mac or Linux.
Here is an overview of business notebook computer considerations:
Operating System (OS). Windows XP is being phased out. Windows 7 is the replacement. It’s different, but not too bad.
Notebook Display Size. Get a standard screen size for all employees, and don’t go small. Big hands cannot use 12 or 13″ notebooks, don’t force someone to. Start at 14-15. Graphics employees might need a larger screen. Some staff may prefer 17″. Better to ask.
Processor. The speed of the processor matters little these days. Anything 1.6GHZ and faster is probably fine for most of your employees. Again, graphics people – and those working with video or other large files will probably need a much faster computer with video RAM. They’ll know what they need, just ask.
Battery life isn’t usually something a business needs to consider unless you have all day meetings away from electrical plugs. Faster processors eat battery life quicker.
BUS Speed. This tells how fast the data moves around on the motherboard. Speed of 800MHZ used to be fast, now you might want 1,6GHZ speed to be fast. This is constantly changing, research this before you buy. Choose minimum 800MHZ speed and you’ll probably be OK – again, not for graphics people!
Random Access Memory. (RAM) This is one area you probably want to get the maximum possible. If your notebook holds 8GB – go ahead and get 8GB. Your operating system and programs are memory hogs and use up the RAM quickly.
WIFI. WIFI is a way for your notebook to reach the internet without wires. If you don’t get this feature, you’re going to be kicking yourself down the road at some point. The cost is negligible, go ahead and get it for all the notebooks you buy.
WIFI speeds are noted with these letters – a/b/g/n. G and N are fastest. You should probably get notebooks with both of those.
Bluetooth. This wireless networking works short distances and is ideal for using Skype with a headset. You may or may not need this, but it’s only $10 and you should have it.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Hard drives are growing in data they can hold, and shrinking in size year to year. 320 to 500GB hard drives are standard today, by the time you read this 1TB may be standard. Research before you buy. The only reason you’d need a very large hard drive is if you work with graphics or video a lot. Speed of the hard drive becomes an issue in that case too – get 7200rpm (or faster) hard drives instead of 5400rpm. Solid State Drives – SSD’s with no moving parts are becoming standard as price drops. In most cases they are faster than spinning hard drives, and you should choose them for their durability.
Optical Drive. (DVD +- R/W). Get a Blue-Ray compatible with + and – designations and you should be OK. Most drives write DVD data at 8x speed. That is slow. Again, this is expected to quicken over time.
Battery. Lithium Ion 6-cell batteries are the current standard. If you don’t need long-life batteries for your notebooks, get 6-cell. Otherwise there are usually 8 or 9-cell options.
The Weight Factor. Most notebooks are about 4-5 lbs. The lightest they get is just over 2 lbs. Lighter weight means less strong, but easier to carry.
Ports. Ports are for plugging in external devices to your computer.
As a minimum you need these ports:
3 USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports. USB’s are the standard port for connecting almost anything.
Modem or SIM card slot for mobile phone access through your notebook when a broadband network connection isn’t available through WIFI.
RJ-45. CAT 5 network cables plug in to RJ-45 ports on your computer. You should have this in case there are wireless problems.
Serial VGA port. Plug your external monitor into this. Very helpful if your notebook computer display dies. Some employees prefer to connect a larger monitor to their notebooks to use at work.
Extras. Web cameras are fun and some businesses use them for face to face Skype calls. Microphone and headphone jacks are almost always standard. You may also want an external monitor to be able to connect to your computer – IBM usually has this serial 9 port for this. Some ports allow TV’s to be connected (S-video or HDMI.)
I hope this helps you choose a business notebook computer when the time comes. Obviously I couldn’t cover everything, but this will give you a point to start from.