Buying Guide: Key Aspects to Look For in Business Laptops

Almost all manufacturers have business laptops as one of their categories. For example Dell, where the Vostro and Latitude series is aimed at business people, then the HP Probook series, and the Lenovo ThinkPad series. Laptops from these segments are categorized and designed so, for the features they offer targeting mainly professionals and business people alike. In this article, we’ll discuss the different aspects that one needs to look for when you’re out buying your business laptop.

The moment you hear business laptop, the first thing that comes to mind is a plain Jane laptop with very little style and a rather boring look. Jazzy stickers, flashy lights, loud colors and the glitterati are not for business laptops right? Well not really, it’s true that business laptops are usually without the fluff, but that doesn’t keep them from looking good. Check out the Lenovo ThinkPads, HP Elitebooks and Probooks, Dell Vostros, Sony’s X and Z series and so on. They are stylish, rugged and look really elegant. If you’re looking for a very corporate look and top notch build quality, the ThinkPads top the list, if you want more of style and ruggedness, Sony is very good.

Build quality
Durability is one of the most important aspects too look for in a business laptop. Now, there are machines for entertainment and home use that offer excellent build quality and very good performance, where you can save some cash and rather opt for them instead of spending a fortune on ‘business laptops’. However, when you invest in something that excels in its domain, there’s no room for error. Be it warranty, build quality, features and performance, if you buy a business laptop, you can be sure that there wouldn’t be any downtime while at work. Also, the features these laptops offer aren’t usually available in multimedia or home laptops.

Access controls like finger print scanners, smart card readers and facial recognition software are the most common traits in business laptops. Also, the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chips, which are common to laptops by Dell, HP and Lenovo, further assure security by keeping the encrypted keys safe and inaccessible to intruders. These are some of the noticeable and very useful features that differentiate these machines.

When it comes to work, you obviously don’t want a situation where you need to retrieve lost data or hunt for an engineer to fix things up. The shock- sensing feature prevents this sort of a mishap. With this feature, the hard drive stops functioning if the laptop is dropped or moved hastily, hence preventing corruption or deletion of crucial data. If you are ready to invest generously, then a laptop with an SSD (no moving parts) is a better choice. Finally, ensure that your machine has what takes to fight hacking, viruses and malware, therefore an updated anti-virus suite, which should essentially take care of all malware attacks, is a given.

Apart from the hardware, it’s important to look at how many and which ports are available on the machine. There should be atleast three USB ports and an eSATA port (or a USB/eSATA combo) is always a nice-to-have. Although projectors come with VGA ports and so do all laptops, look for an HDMI port, wherein you can connect an HD projector when making that important presentation. Another important feature is a memory card reader, which is common to almost all laptops, but it’s a good idea to ensure it’s there. Now, most laptop screens come with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, but some even offer higher resolution, especially high-end ones. So, if you’re spending that extra buck, try for higher screen resolution, there are laptops with variants of the same model offering different resolutions.

Connectivity options like Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth and gigabit Ethernet are common to most laptops, there isn’t much to be concerned about. However, if you find a laptop that is 3G-ready, being future proof proves beneficial.

While larger screens would be preferred by business people who want to work in their office and seldom carry their laptop around, in which case, a 15-inch or 17-inch desktop replacement makes sense. However, you can’t expect business travelers to tote a near 3kg 15-inch brick with himself. They’d rather travel light and go for a 12-inch or 14-inch ultra-portable laptop.

Powerful ultra-slim laptops are usually quite expensive and they offer the features and performance of a desktop replacement in half the weight and form factor. They have more advanced cooling systems, solid state hard drives, and toughened yet light-weight bodies. What goes without saying is that the lighter the laptop the more convenient it is to carry. Upto 2.5 kg of weight on a shoulder should be bearable, unless you’re travelling international and you’d rather not leave your laptop in the room, in which case, a much lighter one makes more sense, say about 1.6 kg or lesser. But this is where you’ll be compromising on performance, unless you go for a high super-slick model specifically meant for business, such as the Sony Vaio X or Vaio Z series.

Different people would have different types of requirements, like someone might need more battery backup and someone needs more power. It’s simple, if you choose a powerful processor coupled with a good discrete graphics chip, you’ll be compromising on battery backup. There are laptops that feature ultra-low voltage processors which offer very good battery backup, but are way much weaker in performance. So clearly, there are options for everyone.

If you are from the entertainment industry or, if demanding tasks such as high-resolution photo editing and video editing, or playing HD movies are a part of your domain, then it’s a good idea to go with a powerful CPU (atleast an Intel Core i5) and good discrete graphics and sufficient RAM. Usually, in a Core i5 laptop, you’d find around 4 GB RAM. On the other hand, if occasional movie watching and online games is all you need in terms of multimedia, then onboard graphics should suffice.

For travelers and commuters, it’s not only the light weight and slim form factor that’s important, but you even want to be able to use the laptop uninterrupted and without needing another round of recharge. So basically, the battery life of the laptop needs to be really good, we’d say that over 5 hours of battery backup (smaller laptops offer more) on a business laptop is decent.

Most laptop brands offer an option for an additional or larger battery pack, hence more juice, but remember, this could make the unit heavier, though offering almost double the battery runtime. Also, if you carry your laptop from home to office and back, everyday, then it’s a good idea to have two adaptors for both places, this way you don’t need to lug those extra pounds with you unnecessarily.

Although this article gives you a brief idea about the crucial aspects to consider, we’d like to hear from you, as to what is it that you consider when you buy a laptop for work purposes, be it in office or at home. The comments section is open for discussions.

Published Date: Aug 11, 2010 10:00 am | Updated Date: Aug 11, 2010 10:00 am