We are presently looking to purchase a number of notebook computers for use by our mobile sales force, as well as semi-mobile people who work within our offices and corporate campus. Any suggestions on picking a particular brand of machine?
Of course! Don't necessarily buy by brand name alone. Before signing on the dotted line, examine each potential supplier's service and support restrictions, and look at how much these "soft costs" might cost you over time (software, service, training, and so on). A good idea is to first come up with some kind of return on investment strategy, and establish a formula for measuring the productivity and value of these systems over time. Be sure to include soft and hard costs into this model. You should also look at the expandability of these systems. Most companies look to keep a mobile computer up and running for at least two years, so be sure the hardware can keep pace with your needs without requiring an upgrade (which can cost money and may result in compatibility problems). I would recommend looking for a system with some kind of built-in personal area networking capability (802.11a or b), since mobile workers can take advantage of remote "hot spots" and plug-in cards and other devices have a tendency to be lost or broken. Also, be sure to consider battery power and capabilities, since a dead system is nothing more than an expensive door stop. You may want to look at new and emerging chip technologies, such as Intel's new Centrino, which combines wireless communication and processing power into a single chip configuration. The result is improved battery life and more performance.
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