Buyers' Guide for Notebook PCs

Your guide to choosing the best notebook PC for your small or medium business

Poor notebook technology choices can lead to shorter life cycles, higher costs and reduced mobile worker productivity.

See Buyers' Guide for Notebook PCs: Wireless technologies

It is important to make the right trade-offs regarding size, weight, performance and battery life. To help IT organisations make the right purchasing decisions, Computerworld has prepared an enterprise buyers guide which includes a shopping checklist and a guide to the latest wireless technologies.

It also lists security options for notebooks and provides recommendations for virtualization. It begins with the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and ends with a Glossary of Terms.

What is a notebook PC?

A notebook PC meets all the PC criteria but is designed to be moved easily from place to place. The system is completely self-contained and can be carried as a single unit, which includes a keyboard, a display, mass storage and the main system unit. Its power sources are alternating current AC or direct current DC. Examples of notebook vendors include Lenovo, Dell, HP, Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Asus, Samsung Electronics, Sony, NEC, Panasonic, LG Electronics and Motion Computing.

Why is notebook selection for business use so important?

Not having the right mobile PC means that users are not working as efficiently as possible, and this can carry a high, and sometimes, hidden cost. Getting the right product depends on understanding company and user requirements, and basing any decision on those business needs.

What should selection be based on?

Organisations need to make the right trade-offs regarding size, weight, performance, battery life and price for each type of worker. Travelling workers have different requirements than workers who use their notebooks to extend the workday. Poor notebook technology choices could lead to shorter life cycles, higher costs and reduced mobile worker productivity.

Should selection be restricted to one model?

Gartner recommends offering two notebook form factors – a smaller, lighter system for travelling workers, and a larger system that is optimized on price or performance for day extenders.

What notebook size is suitable for day extenders?

Day extenders typically use their notebooks in the office, taking them home in the evening or for the weekend to do extra work. For these workers a lightweight device isn’t a priority. These workers are well served by 14 or 15-inch notebooks.

What size suits travelling workers?

Travelling workers represent different use patterns because they are out of the office up to 80 per cent of the time. They tend to carry their notebooks most of the day and work in diverse locations. For these users, weight and battery life, are important selection criteria which is why 12.1 and 13.3 inch notebooks are preferable.

What about upgrade cycles?

Organisations should always procure feature sets that reduce the need to return the machine for an upgrade during its expected lifetime – a process that is rarely cost effective for notebooks.

How long should the warranty apply?

Gartner advises organisations to match warranty periods to the notebook’s expected life, with a minimum warranty period of three years.

Over the page: Shopping Checklist

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