Small Business IT Guide – Laptops

A large number of job-roles require access to a computer for their day to day productivity. So why might you want to choose a laptop rather than a desktop?

What are the advantages of laptops?

Mobility: Laptops have a clear edge over desktops when it comes to mobility. Laptops are designed to be carried around and used in different locations, such as home, office, or out at a customers site. Desktops, however, require a dedicated space and a stable power source to operate. 

Built-in features: When you buy a laptop you have everything you need to work out of the box in a modern workplace a camera, microphone, speakers, and a touchpad, which eliminate the need for external devices.

Efficiency: Laptops are designed to be power efficient, due to this they will have a lower running cost in the long run when used for general day to day tasks.

Space-saving: Laptops have a compact design that takes up less space than desktops. This is especially useful for users who have limited room or prefer a minimalist setup.

Wireless connectivity: Laptops usually have wireless features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and sometimes cellular data, which enable the user to access the internet and other devices without using cables.

What are the disadvantages of laptops?

Performance: Laptops have improved significantly in recent years, but they still lag behind desktops in terms of processing speed, memory, storage, and graphics. Desktops can accommodate more powerful components, such as faster CPUs, larger RAM capacity, bigger hard drives, and dedicated GPUs. Laptops, on the other hand, have to compromise on performance to reduce weight, size, heat, and power consumption. Therefore, desktops are more suitable for tasks that require high performance, such as 3D graphics, video editing, or data analysis.

Cost: Generally, laptops are more expensive than desktops with similar performance levels. This is because laptops have higher manufacturing costs and lower upgrade options than desktops. Laptops also have higher repair costs and lower resale values than desktops due to their fragility and obsolescence. The average life span of a laptop is five years.

Maintenance: Laptops are more prone to damage and malfunction than desktops due to their portability and complexity. Laptops can be easily dropped, spilled on, or stolen. Laptops also have more internal components that can fail or wear like the battery and screen. Laptops are harder to clean and repair than desktops due to their compactness and integration.

What should I consider when buying a laptop?

Size: There are a wide range of laptop sizes available., typically ranging between a screen size of 11″ to 17″ with the standard sizes being either 14″ or 15″. There is a general trade off here between portability versus everyday comfort and usability. Someone in a sales role who travels regularly may benefit from a smaller laptop whereas someone who works mostly in a static location would benefit from a larger laptop.

Form Factor: Many laptops also have alternative “modes” you can use them in. They may be like a Microsoft Surface Pro where you can detach the keyboard or have a keyboard that flips around so that you can use it as a tablet.

Upgradability: Many modern laptops have limited or no upgradability. Due to this consider getting a higher specification laptop in case you need the extra capability later in its life.

Docking and external peripherals: If you use the laptop in one location regularly like an office using a dock can give you the comfort of using a larger keyboard, external screens and peripherals by plugging in one cable.

Laptops

Which brand of laptop should I buy?

If you are buying a laptop for business it is recommended that you buy a laptop from one of the major brands for business continuity. If you do have any problems with the laptop you need to be able to rely on the warranty and support to get the problem resolved with minimal downtime.

Should I get a Windows Laptop or MacBook?

When deciding on a new device there is one big question you should ask, do I want Windows or macOS? There are two main factors to consider here:

Familiarity: If you are more comfortable with one of these options then that operating system will be more productive for you. By choosing the other option you will need to retrain a lot of instinctual habits, behaviours and methods that have slowly become ingrained over time.

Software CompatibilityIt is possible that one of your key line of business apps might only be available on one of the platforms, so it is worth checking this ahead of making your decision.

What do the specifications of a laptop mean?

Processor: The CPU (Central Processing Unit) or Processor will govern how quickly programs will operate and also how power efficient the laptop is. There is a vast range of options available which are split in to different marketing segments by Intel and AMD who make the vast majority of processors. They both use a prefix of 3,5,7 or 9 to suggest their best use cases. With 3 being for light use like classroom note taking and 9 being for high end video editing or CAD design. They also have a different number of “cores” which tells you how many things they can get done in parallel, so if you will be working with lots of programs at once you should opt for a processor with more cores at a slower speed, rather than fewer cores at a higher speed. It is unusual for processors to be upgradable so you should make sure that what you buy today is going to be suitable for your work in several years time.

Memory: RAM (Random Access Memory) often just called Memory dictates how many programs you can have open at once before the laptop starts to slow down. It is useful to think of it as the computer’s short term memory. If it can’t fit something in this short term memory, it will need to go and fetch it from storage instead. RAM may or may not be upgradable, if the laptop you have chosen isn’t upgradable it is advantageous to opt for more memory than you need right now to make it more futureproof.

Storage: There are two main types of storage, HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Disk). Hard Disk Drives are an old but refined technology at this point, they allow you to store a large amount of data at a low cost per gigabyte. Compared to SSDs however they are very slow which will impact your laptop’s start-up speed, program loading times and general responsiveness. SSDs on the other hand tend to come in smaller sizes but provide vastly faster performance. Unless you need to store very large amounts of data getting a laptop with an SSD is always the best option.

Display: There are lots of different screen technologies and resolutions. The common display types are TN , IPS or OLEDs. TN tends to be available in lower end devices, as they have limited colour reproduction quality with restricted viewing angles. IPS are good all rounders, they can have very well calibrated colour accuracy and have great viewing angles. OLEDs are bright, vivid and have superb contrast.

Battery: How long the battery lasts between charges is dictated by the size of the battery and components in the laptops like the processor, graphics and screen. Larger batteries will usually be paired with more power hungry components however it is worth looking at the estimated battery life. Batteries do wear out over time and the amount of charge the battery holds will decrease over its lifespan.

Do I need Windows 11 Pro?

If you are using Microsoft 365 for Business then laptops with Windows 11 Pro will be the better choice for you. The first major benefit is that you can log in to it using your Microsoft 365 business account. It also offers some advanced features that are not available in the Home edition, such as BitLocker encryption, Remote Desktop, Hyper-V virtualization, and more. If you are a power user, a business owner, or someone who values security and productivity, you might benefit from upgrading to Windows 11 Pro.

What are the differences between different ranges of laptops?

Most laptop manufactures offer different ranges of laptops which appear on the surface to have similar specifications, so why should you consider premium laptops over budget ones?

Display Quality: All screens are not made equal and budget laptops tend to have dimmer, blurrier and less colour accurate displays; in general they are less vivid. This may not appear to be a concern if you are just using them general office work, but having a sharp, bright screen can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

Materials: Premium laptops use more metal and alloys in their construction. This leads to the laptop chassis being more rigid, producing less bounce or flex when you use the keyboard.

Compactness: By using stronger materials the laptop size can be reduced which improves portability. This often also reduces the weight.

Webcams & Audio: In a modern workplace it is common to have regular video calls so having high quality video and audio has gone from being a luxury to a necessity. On lower end devices the camera will be less capable and refined, often leading to fuzzier images that don’t cope with dynamic lighting conditions well.

Keyboard and Trackpad: Along with the flex caused by the material choices keyboards can have different tactile qualities and backlighting options. The build quality and size of touchpads can also vary, leading to experiences and response levels.

Laptops

Do I need a laptop bag?

If you transport your laptop to and from an office, to meetings or a client’s site then a laptop bag is definitely recommended. Laptops can cost a lot of money to purchase and repair, so keeping your device protected and in good condition with a laptop bag is a good investment. Unlike a general purpose rucksack or bag they are designed with a compartment that cushions the laptop against impact, helping you keep your device in good working order. You can find out about different types of laptop bag on our Targus page.

Contact

If you need one or more laptops of any make and model for you business please reach out to us via one of the contact methods below or the contact form.

Share

Recent Posts

SPF DKIM DMARC
General

SPF, DKIM and DMARC

Email revolutionised how people and businesses all around the world communicate. But how can you be sure the sender is who they say they are?

Read More »