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             OrganizatiOns can likely imprOve prOductivity and bOOst mOrale by
                      Outfitting emplOyees with a cOmpany-Owned nOtebOOk.
        Anyone strolling past corporate cubicles and offices or watching employees pack up at the end of the
          day will notice a dramatic change from a year or two ago. Many of the once ubiquitous desktop
                                   computers have been replaced with notebooks.

  Even employees who still have their desktop PCs often also      ««« “The major driver behind the trend to replace
have company-provided notebooks. And they sync-up with                desktop computers with notebook computers is that it
their desktops every evening in order to do some work from            increases the time that employees can be productive.”
  There are many good reasons for companies to provision             In fact, Roger L. Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies
employees with notebooks. But a successful program requires       Associates, believes that the increased popularity of notebook
matching the optimal type of machine with the employees’ job      computers in medium- and large-size corporations has initiated
                                                                  a major shift in the way people work.
  For example, employees who travel may prefer to sacrifice
                                                                    “We’re moving to a model in which the workday comprises
screen size and processor speed for lighter weight and longer
                                                                  many more hours, although those hours are less intense,” he
battery life. Those who work primarily at home will want
                                                                  says. According to Kay, workers who are allowed the flexibility
to match the capabilities of a desktop computer, sometimes
                                                                  to take time off to bring their kids to daycare or keep a dental
requiring an extra monitor, external hard drive and other
                                                                  appointment are more likely to use their notebooks to work
components attached through a docking station.
                                                                  longer hours, blurring the division between work and personal
  Workers in hard-hat environments will need a notebook that      time.
can survive rough handling. And unless security requirements
preclude it, most workers will want an embedded or attached       » better technology
communications module.                                              There are also technological reasons companies are
  In addition, companies will have to determine if and when to    switching some users from desktop to notebook computers.
consider new technologies. These include such items as solid-     The most important is the availability of dual-core and quad-
state drives along with new mobile broadband standards such       core processors in notebooks offering enhanced performance.
as Gobi and WiMax.                                                  The physically smaller but high-capacity hard drives, docking
                                                                  stations and large high-resolution screens make notebooks
» the Move to notebooks                                           capable of handling most applications. This includes even
  A number of changes in the notebook market as well as           resource-intensive applications like film editing and CAD.
new employee attitudes about work are encouraging firms to
                                                                    According to Howard Locker, director of new technology at
supplement or — increasingly — replace desktop machines
                                                                  Lenovo, there may still be a few applications that go beyond
with notebooks.
                                                                  the capabilities of notebooks — oil exploration and some
   First, the price differential between notebooks and desktops   astronomical programs, for example, “Those represent less
is narrowing. In fact, the introduction of sub-$600 notebooks     than one percentage of the overall market,” he contends.
has brought the two types of machines close to price parity.
  While dollar for dollar you still get more from a desktop       » notebook Pc selection
computer — faster processor, higher capacity hard drive,            Companies that decide to outfit employees with notebooks
larger screen size — than a similarly priced notebook, many       have a wide number of choices. In general, notebook computer
employees don’t actually need those extra capabilities.           options are more varied than those in desktops, and buying
  But even companies that have to pay more for a notebook         notebooks for employees requires considering a larger number
that replicates the functionality of the desktop may enjoy        of trade-offs.
savings — although somewhat difficult to quantify. For              Obviously, cost is an important issue. In order to replicate in
example, some companies report higher worker productivity         a notebook the same screen size, processor, RAM and storage
because employees do some tasks at home.                          as the employee had in the desktop PC, companies may end up
   “The major driver behind the trend to replace desktop          paying at least twice as much.
computers with notebook computers is that it increases the          So before outfitting an employee with a notebook, many
time that employees can be productive,” says Rob Enderle,         companies determine the configuration employees really need
principal at the tech analyst firm Enderle Group. “Workers        to do their jobs. They understand that the desktop PC the
like to use their evenings to catch up on e-mail and make up      employee had been working on may have been overkill for
for time lost to meetings or other activities.”                   their applications.
  Combining a notebook program with one in which workers            For companies that are primarily concerned with providing
can regularly spend part of their day or week working from        a notebook adequate to meet the work requirements of most
home, can cut employee commuting costs and time resulting in      mid-level employees — generally Microsoft Office applications
improved morale and retention. And if some teleworkers can        — vendors have released new sub-$900 machines. They provide
share desk space at the company, corporate real estate as well    the benefits of notebook portability while almost matching the
as power and cooling costs may drop.                              low cost of desktop PCs.

       brOadband internet cOnnectivity
       In many cases, this is how users gain access to the corporate       “Companies can standardize on software and customize the
       network. therefore, it has become a requirement in all              connection for the end user,” she says. In addition, the internal
       notebook computers. except companies whose users work on            form factor allows for a larger antenna that may result in
       sensitive material, most connect to the Internet through some       improved performance in some areas. finally, a card or dongle
                                                                           hanging off a notebook is just asking to be bumped or broken
       kind of remote access.
       Currently, internal Wi-fi connections are embedded in virtually
                                                                           Companies that want the advantages of internal broadband
       all notebook computers. but finding an available wireless           chipsets, without having to commit to a service provider, can
       network can be catch-as-catch-can. so increasingly, users are       consider Qualcomm Gobi global mobile Internet. It can be used
       asking for 3G broadband mobile access.                              with many service providers’ mobile broadband services.

       broadband access cards, provided by service providers, come         hP is among the first to offer embedded Gobi. It’s available on
       in three external form factors: PC Cards, expressCards and Usb      its elitebook models and adds about $150 to the cost. billings
       dongles.                                                            says Gobi is among the platforms that At&t will support.

       the advantage of external cards is that it allows companies         Another emerging technology is WiMax, a protocol that
                                                                           allows for improved bandwidth with less interference. Mobile
       to easily switch service providers. the alternative, embedded
                                                                           broadband service providers may roll out WiMax in some cities.
       mobile broadband chipsets are specific to individual services.
                                                                           for example, recently sprint announced a new mobile WiMax
       Carolyn billings, executive director for notebook mobility at       network that’s available in some parts of baltimore. sprint
       At&t, which offers both internal and external devices for mobile    says it will soon expand it to more U.s. cities. Many notebook
       broadband, says internal chipsets are easier for corporate It       makers, including toshiba and hP, are watching this technology
       departments to implement.                                           and may embed it in their notebooks when it matures.

       “Organizations that buy those machines are interested in the       sized screen. And then there’s the issue of power consumption.
     basics: do they have processing power, screen size and storage       Typically, a larger notebook screen will result in shorter battery
     the user needs,” says Cindy Zwerling, product marketing              life.
     manager for business to business at Toshiba.
                                                                            For those reasons, Baker says that large screen notebooks are
       Zwerling adds that notebooks in that price range do not            “Primarily for workers who at the end of the day, throw their
     require sacrifices in things such as screen size and extra           notebooks in the backs of their cars and carry it into the house.
     features. For example, Toshiba recently released its 15.4-inch       Not so much for those who are on the road a lot.”
     Satellite Pro S300 and 14.1-inch Satellite Pro S300M notebooks
                                                                            At the other ends of the spectrum are Ultra-Mobile PCs
     starting at $829.
                                                                          (UMPCs) such as Fujitsu LifeBook U810, which has a 5.6-inch
       Companies willing to pay more for a notebook can
                                                                          screen; the 7-inch screen ASUS EEE PC 4G Surf; or the slightly
     consider a 17-inch large screen model such as HP Business
                                                                          larger 8.9-inch HP Mini-Note series.
     Notebook 8710p, Lenovo IdeaPad Y710 or the 17-inch
     Apple MacBook Pro.                                                     Some UMPCs weigh less than two pounds, and a few have
                                                                          recently entered the sub-$600 range. Their primary advantage
       “If employees are going to spend any significant time on
                                                                          is portability: they fit easily in the corner of a briefcase or even
     the notebook, the larger the screen size the more comfortable
                                                                          in a large handbag. And power consumption is more modest
     they’ll be,” says Robert Baker, HP’s business notebook product
                                                                          than with their larger cousins.
     marketing manager for North America. But Baker is quick to
     add that, besides higher cost, there are two downsides to large        However, keep in mind, the smaller screen and keyboard can
     screen notebooks.                                                    render them less than optimal for longtime use. So generally
       For one thing, they’re heavier and bulkier. People who have        companies provide these to employees who have a second
     to spend time carrying them often find the ergonomic benefit         computer at their desks where they do most of their work.
     of a large screen outweighed by the soreness in their shoulders        Toshiba’s Zwerling says that most companies and end users
     at the end of the day.                                               prefer 15.4-inch screen notebooks: “They’re small enough to
       Large screen notebooks are also more difficult to balance on       carry and use remotely but large enough for a sustained period
     an airplane tray table than a notebook with a more modest-           of work.”

» Docking stAtions                                                   solId-stAte drIves
  One relatively easy way to avoid the trade-offs between            ssds are thinner, lighter, use less power and
portability and ergonomics is to provide users with a docking        can survive rougher treatment than hard
station. With the attached components, it can provide all the        drives. because they have no moving parts,
                                                                     they don’t wear out. howard locker, director
functionality workers are used to with their desktops, while
                                                                     of new technology at lenovo, says that solid-
allowing for portability when on the road or at home.
                                                                     state storage is four times more reliable than
  Docking stations can provide AC power, extra ports and             traditional hard drives.
connections for tandem screens and extra input devices. For
                                                                     All this should make them mainstream in
example, Locker says he travels with a 15.4-inch notebook.
                                                                     notebook computers. Unfortunately, they have
  But back at the office, he docks it to a setup that includes a     two disadvantages compared to traditional hard
24-inch second screen and external storage. “Using docking, I        drives: cost and capacity.
have the components of a powerful desktop system. But I can          locker estimates that ssds cost about five to ten
still carry my notebook under my arm when I leave,” he says.         times more per gigabyte than traditional hard
  Finally, companies may opt for specialized computers to            drives. And large capacity ssds don’t exist. so
meet the needs of specific applications.
                                                                     you’ll have to make do with 128Gb at best.

  For example, many general-purpose notebooks have been              Generally solid state drives are for mini
hardened to survive minor bumps and spills. Still, they are not      notebooks, where weight and compactness
                                                                     override the importance of low price and high
made for use in dirty environments such as construction sites,
                                                                     capacity. Most vendors currently offer some
disaster areas or dusty manufacturing floors.
                                                                     models with ssds.
  For those applications, most organizations would do well
with rugged notebooks such as GETAC’s series of rugged
notebooks or the Panasonic Toughbook series. These include
durability features such as alloy cases, sealed ports and
connectors, and shock-mounted hard drives.

  Tablet PCs, which are basically notebooks with a touchscreen
instead of a keyboard, and UMPCs, slightly smaller than
tablets, are generally used for special applications in which
the employee enters or accesses data while on the move. For
example, some electronic medical records or inventory control
applications are developed for these sub-notebooks.

  One important factor in selecting a notebook computer is
battery life. A number of factors affect battery life. In general,
the smaller the notebook screen, the longer the battery will
last. Dual-core and quad-core processors can extend battery
life by keeping unneeded cores idle while others are working.

  Fortunately, notebook makers are hard at work improving
power consumption. In addition, battery makers are striving
to extend battery life.                                              let cDW conFigUre
  “A major goal for us is to increase battery life while at the      notebook coMPUters
same time providing the power and screen resolution and size         to yoUr eXAct
that people want,” says Zwerling. Recently Toshiba released
its Portege R600 Series which can provide up to eight hours of
                                                                     sPeciFicAtions Prior
battery life on a single charge.
                                                                     to Delivery.
  Companies have to juggle many factors when selecting a
notebook computer. Fortunately, with careful planning, any
compromises or trade-offs companies make when replacing a
desktop PC with a notebook should be small and insignificant
to end users. ◊


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