Oct 042011

desktop-laptopsI am often asked for help from clients who are trying to decide whether their next computer should be a laptop or a desktop. It’s usually someone who has always had a desktop computer and is thinking of switching to a laptop. Laptops are great. They vary in capabilities from very basic to pretty much as advanced as any desktop. Of course, there are some compromises for the smaller, lighter form factor. Battery life has improved a lot over the past few years, but that’s only relevant when you are using it away from your desk. If you are thinking of switching to a laptop from a desktop, here are some of the pros and cons:

Laptop Pros

Lightweight, compact footprint, lower power usage, portability, easy to take to a store for service. Easy to fit in any room, or take from room to room.

Laptop Cons

  • Smaller screen (unless you go for a heavier, big 17″ screened laptop, or use an external monitor)
  • Smaller keyboard – depending on the model. Some have full-size keyboards.
  • Not as upgradeable. For example, when the much faster USB 3.0 technology is more readily available in many devices, if you bought a laptop with only USB 2.0, you cannot upgrade to 3.0. On a desktop you can just add a USB 3.0 card with a slot in the back. But in all honesty, you’re probably fine with USB 2.0.
  • Not as much storage space. These days, this is not as much of an issue. There are laptops with huge hard drives.
  • Ergonomics: it’s harder to find a platform to type on at just the right height for a laptop. Working with it on your lap is usually NOT ergonomic. But there are some adjustable tables, like a tray on a stand, that can put it at the right height. Then there is also the angle of view relative to your eyes, head and neck. Again, easier to get it right with a desktop.
  • And finally, you pay somewhat more for the miniaturization, compared to the more spacious case that houses a desktop PC or Mac.

While you are at it, look at the new Macs. They are gorgeous, and you can run both Mac and Windows 7 on them easily, using the program Parallels 7. I am writing this from within Outlook 2007 for Windows, inside the Windows 7 environment, on a Mac Pro desktop computer.

Your biggest choices are between a big screen that’s easy on the eyes but heavier, or a smaller screen that’s in a lighter laptop. The best thing is to go to a store that sells Dell (like Best Buy) and hold different models in your hands, see what the screen looks like to your eyes, and type on the keyboard. Also check out the Macs at any Apple Store.