February 3, 2007

How much laptop do we need?

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:18 pm

As the shift towards one to one computing continues, I’m advocating we move to more laptops for teachers and students. I’m in a bit of a debate with our IT department as to what the minimum requirements should be for a laptop. Ads for laptops under $700 abound. He claims this would not work well in our environment.
Here’s some of his thoughts on our discussion.

Acquisition costs for a notebook computer is typically 15% – 25% higher than that of a desktop computer. That would mean a substantial increase in IT budget per year… something I doubt the Board would endorse given the current financial situation within the division.

  • Notebooks are typically MUCH slower than a desktop computer.
  • Notebooks are MUCH less reliable than desktops. Downtime would increase significantly.
  • Notebooks have VERY limited expansion capabilities and those items are more expensive (memory, hard drives, etc).
  • Notebooks do not last as long as desktops. Our current replacement policy of 4 years would most likely have to be reduced to 3 years.
  • Some programs WILL NOT RUN (or at least run so poorly on a notebook that they are unusable) AutoCAD, etc.

Maintaining security and standard configurations on notebooks that go off-site would substantially increase IT support costs

How would you see these notebooks being connected to our networks… wired… wireless? If it is wireless millions of $$$ would need to be invested in wireless infrastructure to support this model…

What about future directions within technology? We are in a time where this is a huge concern for the entire industry. In fact, Microsoft just released Vista today… the next version of their desktop operating system. Likely a third of the computers in our division won’t even run it right now while another third can run it but not the video-editing and multi-media (i.e. the “cool”, engaging parts) features. That leaves one third of the computers that can take advantage of new IT based opportunities and tools. The $600 – $1,000 notebooks would fall into one of these two-thirds… either they couldn’t run Vista of they would run it V E R Y S L O W L Y and/or some features would not be accessible.Also, the Thinkpad system that you spec’d out would struggle running Windows XP and our Office products… it would choke on Vista. I checked the Lenovo (the new name for IBM notebooks and PC’s) web site out and couldn’t find this configuration anywhere… where did you find this? The lowest priced Thinkpad T60 ( the T40 is no longer available) was $1,299 Canadian and only came with a one year warranty and no accidental damage coverage… a huge issue with notebooks.

I understand his concerns about performance and support. Many of the blogs I read do not speak highly of their IT department. This is not the case for me. I work closely with them and while we may not agree on all things, we’re all focused on our desire to provide the best experience and opportunities for all learners. The debate we’re having is whether we can make the shift from the standard desktop to laptop without increasing costs dramatically.

I’m wondering if those with experience in this can respond.

[tags]laptops,one to one,1to1,notebooks,change,shift[/tags]