How to decide between laptop or desktop deployment

Ask an employee what they want, and they'll surely pick the laptop. But that may not be the best fit.

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Michael Playford wants to “set up rules and criteria that would justify a team member being provided a laptop vs. a desktop. Most team members are requesting a laptop.”

Of course they are. Laptops are cool. They’re a status symbol. You can take them anywhere. Top executives all have laptops. Desktops, on the other hand, look clunky and old-fashioned. No one wants a desktop anymore.

But that doesn’t mean that laptops are the smartest choice for everyone in the company.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Desktop computers aren’t necessarily cheaper or more powerful than laptops. But the price/performance ratio always favors desktops. If you’re shopping for price, you’ll get more bang for the buck with a desktop. And if you’re shopping for power, you’ll pay less bucks for the bang with the desktop.

And that doesn’t cease with the initial purchase. Desktop PCs are easier to upgrade and repair—especially if you go for a tower rather than an all-in-one unit.

Also consider that your employees’ health affects the bottom line, so ergonomics are important, too. Large monitors and full-sized keyboards are inherently more conducive to ergonomic health. If you do provide team members with a laptop, put a monitor and keyboard on the desk, as well. You might even consider a docking station, which gives the laptop more ports and only one device to plug in. All this adds to the cost, of course.

Despite the additional costs, some people really do need a company laptop to work most effectively. Consider this option for any employees who fit one or more of these criteria:

  • They travel on company business.
  • They need to take their computer around the office while working.
  • They continue to work after leaving the office, and there are reasons why their home PC won’t cut it.
  • They are in a position to fire you.

There’s another option, and I personally know one very successful corporate vice president who swears by it: Use a desktop in the office, and a tablet on business trips. That way, you get full power at the desk, and very easy portability on the road.

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