By Vineetha Menon
Looking for the right notebook to use for work? Here's our guide on the features you need to consider before buying
The notebook is now an essential productivity tool for any business. The market is constantly changing with smaller, faster and better models being released, so deciding what to buy can be a challenge, but for any business professional, picking the right device to allow you not only to keep up but that also helps you stay one step ahead, is essential.
Here we present our guide to the most important things to consider when buying a business laptop.
In a world where threats continue to escalate, you need to consider security features and protection from viruses, trojans, malware and other nasties, and also need to think about protecting data if your laptop is lost or stolen. After all, you fill a business notebook with all kinds of important and potentially sensitive information and keeping that information secure is not a trivial matter.
For those who rate security as their top concern, look at notebooks that come with an integrated fingerprint scanner for biometric authentication, which can be used with standard passwords for added protection.
Some brands also offer hard drive encryption and a dedicated security suite so that you can limit access to sensitive material that’s stored on your notebook. Also you might want to consider software and services which can track stolen laptops and remotely disable them or wipe data.
As you shuttle from airport to airport, having to lug a bulky device isn’t an appealing prospect, especially when you’re in a rush to finish a key report or presentation. One of the most important factors for any business notebook is portability because it gives you the freedom of taking it with you anywhere.
Look for something that’s small and light enough for you to use and carry with ease, but without compromising on performance. This will really come down to what you need to do with the device, and whether your going to need functions like a DVD burner or a big screen, or whether you can substitute these for external drives, or projectors at client premises when you need them, saving you from carrying the weight when you don’t.
With new models being introduced regularly, most good notebooks offer five or more hours of battery life before it needs to be recharged. Look out for the highest number cell battery and, if that’s not enough, buy external batteries so you’ll never be caught out.
If this is a big concern for you, check out the new Latitude E-series range of laptops which Dell claims can run continuously while unplugged for a minimum of 10 hours, and could go up to 19 hours without having to be charged. Additionally, its external AC adapter promises to restore 80% of battery power after just one hour of being plugged in.
Being able to access the internet and contact your employees or employers is a key concern for most people. Communication is vital and needs to be considered when choosing a business notebook, including whether your device comes with an integrated webcam and microphone.
WiFi connection is a standard on most good brands and is a necessity when trying to connect to ‘hot spots’ or wireless networks. It saves you spending money on an optional card, and also improves compatibility with other devices and reduces power consumption. Alternatively, notebooks with Mobile Broadband built-in, or an add-on GSM broadband dongle will give wider connectivity in those countries where the service is available.
Will your notebook meet your performance demands? If you’re hesitant about the answer, invest some time and effort to find out exactly what you need. Check out the notebook’s RAM – the higher the RAM, the better it is for graphics and video. 1 and 2 GB RAM is quite common, though the minimum is 256 MB advised for Windows XP and the Mac OS X. 128 MB will do for other operating systems under Windows and Mac.
Dual-core processors is what you need so functions like streaming video or writing a DVD for presentations can happen seamlessly – a mono-core processor would only buckle under the load.
Most good business notebooks will come with plenty of storage space, usually with 60 to 80 GB hard drives. External hard drives can be purchased if needed or consider a notebook that allows expansion of your internal notebook hard drive.
You don’t want your notebook to fall apart after you’ve dropped it accidentally, delaying your work while you sort out a replacement. This is why strength and sturdiness of your notebook shouldn’t be overlooked. Check the overall build quality, and look out for things like whether swappable drives are held securely in place.
Some brands like IBM and Dell have designed a protection system so that your hard drive remains protected from accidental falls and spills. Take the time to ask vendors about the features in place to save you worrying in the long run.
Choosing your business notebook is all about getting your work done in the most effective way. That’s why accessories such as a webcam, portable printer or handheld scanner can make all the difference.
Even if these devices don’t come bundled with your laptop purchase, make sure they are at least compatible with your choice to avoid any surprises. Also, make sure you buy a laptop bag that’s convenient for you – some come in the form of a trolley bag while others can be slung over a shoulder.
Netbooks are entering the market in a big way, with mini-PCs like the Acer AspireOne or Asus EEE PC making the computing experience more affordable and convenient for both students and professionals.
Usually costing a fraction of the cost of regular notebooks, these machines generally come with an 8 to 10-inch screen, with a Windows XP or Linux operating system. Users can perform word processing and spreadsheet tasks, and access the internet through wireless networks.
Most netbooks are retailing for AED 2,000 or less and weigh less than two pounds, making it easy to slip into any backpack or briefcase. A professional can use netbooks as a more mobile and lighter option when working on the move.
The DTK eBook i10 and Amilo Mini Ui 3520 from Fujitsu Siemens have recently launched in the region, offering people in the Middle East more of a choice in the netbook market.
Similar to how most people now own more than one phone, many industry experts predict that netbooks will spark a similar trend in computing devices.