Most of the time when I am running the MacBook Pro it is in the Mac environment. I do this because I am still learning the Mac. I have spent all of “computing life” in the Microsoft world, so I have had to unlearn a few things and learn some others. When I need Windows, I just click on the VMWare icon on my desktop and Windows XP opens up with all of the features and programs (and problems ) of Windows right at hand. But, I prefer to work in the Mac environment because it is a joy to use because of the elegant design, ease of use and the fact that the software and the hardware are actually designed to work with each other. PC software has to work with a wide variety of different hardware environments and so it does not always play nicely. As we all know from experience.
So, having laid the form factor question to rest, how should I equip a laptop? What about the operating system? What features should I buy? All good questions and I do have an opinion on each of those!
To start with, if you want tablet functionality, either pure or convertible, you have to stay with the PC. Apple doesn’t have one…yet.
So, is it Vista or XP then? My preference would be to get the PC equipped with XP Professional or Tablet Edition. That is probably not going to be possible since Microsoft discontinued selling XP on June 30th of this year. Retailers are permitted to sell their existing stock of XP but once that is exhausted they will only be able to sell Vista.
Vista comes in 6 flavors ranging from stay away from it, to this is the one that you probably want. Since you are operating a business, then you need to opt for business class software. In this case, it’s the choice between Vista Ultimate and Vista Business. If you get a Tablet or a convertible you will get Ultimate. If you get a plain laptop, then be sure to get Vista Business and you’ll have all of the functionality you need to connect to corporate servers and do your job.
The Hardware is where there is a lot of confusion. Don’t be fooled by the ads for sub $500 laptops. These machines can barely boot up Vista and are so underpowered that they bring a new meaning to the term slow. Better to opt for a machine that has the following hardware:
- An Intel Core Two Duo Processor – get the fastest that you can afford
- 2 Gigs of Random Access Memory (RAM) This is the minimum for a satisfactory experience with Vista. More is better!
- 250 Gigabytes hard drive or bigger! A 7,200 RPM hard drive is better, but a 10,000 RPM drive is best
- 256 MB Video card, 512 MB is better. This will allow the computer to display superb graphics and video
- A built in video camera and microphone so that you van make Skype calls and send video emails
- Built-in CDR/DVDR drive. This drive will both play and burn CDs and DVDs
- Built-in WiFi so that you can work from Starbucks or any other WiFi enabled hot spot
- Built in Bluetooth so that you can communicate with your phone and other Bluetooth accessories like printers and headsets.
- Lots of USB 2.0 Ports. At least 3, more is better.
- A PCI Express slot so that you can add the popular AirCards that will give your PC access to the Internet when WiFi is not available and cellular is.
You can expect to pay around $3000 to $3500 for such a machine, but you should be happy with its performance over its 3-4 year lifespan.
If I were in the market, I would visit all of the major manufacturers web sites and take a look at what they have, keeping in mind the specs I detailed above. Once I had found a few models that I was comparing I would then visit a shopping site like MySimon.com to see who had the best prices, and from there make my choice.
If you spend the time up front to learn about what is available, then you can expect satisfaction when you finally make the purchase.
As stated above, this is my opinion. Yours may be different!