Working Faster, Longer, Smarter, on the Move

PCQ Bureau
New Update

Today a buyer is offered with a plethora of options when it comes to buying a computing device for his personal or professional use. However, choosing the right model with the right feature set can take some serious time and research. To be able to fulfil your desire and more in the stipulated budget, you need to be cautious of certain factors. A good laptop, at the end of the day, is not just a device with lots of features, it's about what it finally delivers for your business. Does it give business users the performance, portability and connectivity they need on the move? Does it provide the manageability, reliability, and durability required by the IT department? It's essential to look for features that help you meet these objectives. This guide will look beyond the specs to help you choose the right laptop for achieving maximum productivity with minimum downtime for your business.


Apart from the latest specs, you need to think about some of the critical aspects of the machine you're going to buy. These aspects pertain to its usage and the sales decision should be inspired by the usage of a laptop. This would help enhance your productivity. For instance, those who work for long hours on spreadsheets, should ideally require a bigger screen laptop. For, the spreadsheets can spread across multiple columns and the bigger screen helps present more data in one go. The user should not have to mess around trying to get to the last column from the first every time. The keyboard layout is another factor. Most people are in tune with the basic keyboard layout of a separate numeric pad besides the regular keyboard. Laptops with bigger displays are including the full scape keyboard with the separate numeric keypad as well.

Decreased bootup times is also important. Lenovo claims of having features like instant resume of wireless connectivity from wakeup, Lenovo Enhanced Experience for Windows 7 to reduce boot time and an mSATA SSD card to speed up performance.


Right specs for the right performance

There are a lots of configurations out there to choose from, but a few of the basic things you must check for are:

Screen Size: Laptops are generally available in the 14, 15 and the 17 inches category. You need to understand your requirements before you decide on the size. People who have to regularly hassle away with spreadsheets, a larger screen size would be apt for them. You should keep in mind that increasing screen size increases the weight of the laptop and reduces the portability. A 15 inch notebook hits the sweet spot between usage and portability. Thus, choose one that suits you. Bigger may only be better in a very limited number of cases.


Processor: This is one of the most important components. Choosing the right processor depends on the kind of applications that you'll be running on. Although many business tasks, such as Word processing, are not processor-intensive, multi-core processors are recommended for professionals because they allow you to run multiple applications at the same time (e.g., MS Word and Firefox and virus scanning software). A dual-core processor will ensure a smoother computing experience; quad-core processors are recommended for graphics-intensive work, heavy database tasks, and other professionals who will be taxing their PCs. Keeping future proofing in mind and the increasing number of resource hungry apps, it makes sense to go for a quad core processor. One would do well with a basic quad core i3 or an i5 from Intel for more than basic productivity work. Also, the core i3 and i5 can cater to decent level of graphics capability so dedicated Graphics card is not required, unless you want to do graphic intensive work. A proffesional work environment anyways requires not much intensive graphics applications.

RAM: RAM decides the execution speed of your machine. A higher RAM therefore implies quicker performance. We are in the era of the power efficient DDR3 RAMs. A 2GB RAM for basic productivity work and anything over and above keeping in mind heavy workloads may be chosen. RAM is upgradeable and hence one can increase it in the future if need arise.


Optical Drive: An optical drive comes bundled in a laptop. The other choice available in terms of an optical drive is between a regular tray load optical drive and a slot load drive. The slot load drives may have a longer shelf life because of non-moving parts but it cannot play the smaller 8 cm disk. One can easily give the Blue-ray drive a miss as apart from being expensive, it hasn't taken off majorly because of the USB drives. Increasing use of USB drives for quick and easy storage has decreased their relevance. Even the OS can be installed using the USB these days. External optical drives are also available for a paltry Rs 3000 . A DVD writer is more important for professionals, who may still need to send files on disk to clients or install proprietary software from CD.

Hard Disk: The more storage space you have, the merrier. 320 GB should be optimum for laptops these days. External storage drives are also available at roughly Rs 3000 for 1 TB. These provide data portability to the setup. The HDD is another component which can be replaced, or accentuated by external entities if need arise. In a business setup, most of the important data is anyways accessed through a central NAS, SAN setup. Businesses need a central repository of data and hence online storage has taken forefront in this regards too. Hence there is no point in spending the extra buck on large internal storage. Also to consider are the SSDs which are not prone to wear and tear because of any moving parts, which is the case with HDDs. SSDs are light weight and the only limitation is that they are generally a tad bit expensive than HDDs, but they do up the ante in terms of performance. SSDs could be really helpful for excecutives on the move.


Graphics: A graphics card boosts the performance of your machine in games, 3D software and also with your OS in general. Laptops can also have dedicated graphics, though they are lower in performance as compared to desktop graphics cards. With a dedicated graphics card in your laptop, you can expect to play games, watch high-def movies or connect multiple monitors to one PC. Many newer graphics cards also have HDMI out to connect a high def flat panel. This can be used to integrate a PC into your home theatre system, as HDMI carries both image and sound. Apart from fun, this also helps in slide presentations.


Because connectivity is key to remote work, professionals should make sure they have as many network connection options as feasible: fast Ethernet and wireless network cards (get at least an 802.11g wi-fi card; 802.11n is preferred and becoming more common). If you have Bluetooth headsets or other peripherals such as a PDA that you wish to connect to your system, make sure you get Bluetooth installed as well. You can also opt for a built-in mobile broadband card or add that feature to your laptop later for the ultimate in Internet access on the run.


Extra features

Battery: The 6 cell battery is the standard across the variety of units. However, a much more powerful 9 cell battery is also available for laptop/ netbook in the market. These can be purchased at a meagre price difference of Rs 2,000 but do well in stretching the battery backup of the laptop from around 3 hours to over 4. This can be of great importance to the professional workers who like to slog away on laptops rather than netbooks. The other interesting observation in terms of the 9 cell battery is that brands like dell have modelled the 9 cell battery such that the protrusion from the laptop is at the base rather than at the back. This helps to elevate the laptop by about half an inch and works fantastically well for the cooling and heat dissipation. In the other cases, the laptops are found stuck to the base surface and generate a lot of heat which transforms into heating issues later and reduce the life of the machine substantially.


Plug in charger: Nothing much that a professional buying a laptop / netbook can do about the charger, but it always makes sense to buy a universal adapter plug so that one is not left short of battery charge.

Weight: Since we are talking about portables, it is important to consider the extent of their portability. One obviously does not want to carry a very heavy machine to add to the increasing back problems which is anyways becoming a bane of the lifestyle based on increased work. The weight of the laptop would obviously be no factor in the final purchase decision, but it does make sense to go for a lighter machine if 2 are similar otherwise.

Fingerprint Scanner: Fingerprint scanners are available as an inexpensive add-on. Depending on the laptop, a fingerprint reader might be tied in with boot-time firmware to prevent a computer from starting up without a valid fingerprint. It may also safeguard Windows log-ins or replace passwords for online services and encrypted virtual disk mounting. Just about any business would benefit from having one of these readers, especially considering the negligible expense.

For a worry-free IT department

The last thing that the IT department of an organization wants after it has spent the buck on buying new laptops is the laptop to keep coming back for repairs, upgrades, etc. Apart from the specs, the IT department can look towards intricate features which would help make their life easy and help them forget the laptop before the next purchase cycle.

Durability: Build quality and material go a long way in ensuring that the laptop once rolled out is capable enough of withstanding some rough handling. The top cover is the main component which undergoes severe abuse. Materials like carbon fibre reinforced plastic are being increasingly used to fashion the top of the laptops which make them light yet durable. Steel hinges keep the top cover fastened securely and this is important as the hinges do tend to lag away after a certain time period and their repair involves costs as well as jeopardizing the use of the laptop for that time period. You should ensure that the laptop should not be flimsy or made of compromised materials just to lower the cost as these things could come back to haunt the purchase decision.

Manageability:It is the IT team's responsibility to diagnose, repair any problems that the users might be facing with the laptops while in office or out in the field. Certain updates also need to be provided to the machines so that they are running fit. Leveraging Intel vPro technology in latest generation systems can simplify remote management of an entire fleet of PCs, enabling IT staff to push software updates, diagnose software problems, track assets, enhance security, and power down systems, all from a centralized location.

Security:Data and information security is of prime importance to an organization. It takes large effort and expenses to build up this data and if lost, or transferred to wrong hands, this could add upto much more worth of pain. Laptops these days are equipped with certain features which help prevent unintensional data loss. The IT team of an organisation should be able to secure the data even in case of the laptop being stolen. Using selfencrypting drives helps make it easy to keep information safe even if a system is lost or stolen.Key features including integrated fingerprint readers, facial recognition technology, contactless smart card readers offer strong protection for company networks and data.. One can go for a HDD with free fall sensor. A free-fall sensor can detect when a drive experiences sudden motion that indicates a near-term poor outcome. Turtlelike, the drive instantly retracts its read/write heads to keep them from damaging the internal platters. The drive then pops the heads out when the coast is clear. This feature comes at a paltry premium which would mean nothing as compared to the importance and value of the personal/company data. Another thing to look out for is the rubber feet at the base of the machine which acts as a shock absorber in case of a fall.

Warranty and support plans: While most consumers can do with a standard 1 year warranty, professionals should look for a warranty of 3 or more years, since you would use your computer for about that long. Also, consumer support plans generally require you take the computer to a depot or mail in a laptop for repair; if you don't have a fall-back or second computer that you can use for work, as a professional you should get on-site support -- either same or next day, depending on whether you can tolerate any downtime if your computer breaks.