Technology

Desktop PC Death Rumors ‘Greatly Exaggerated’

Mark Twain once said that the rumors of his death had been “greatly exaggerated.” The same can be said for the desktop PC. Sleek laptops are certainly sexier than bulky desktops, but recent research proves that small businesses need both to create a more efficient and productive office.

With the explosive growth of wireless hot spots and coffee shop meetings, many small businesses are being lured into buying laptops for everyone they employ. Savvy small business owners today are combining the affordability of desktop PCs together with the mobility of laptops to create an efficient, productive and cost-effective office, however.

Mobility, Productivity

“You certainly gain a lot of mobility and productivity with a laptop, but be sure that the added expense and necessary support infrastructure is justified, as it would be for frequent business travelers or telecommuters,” said Russell Morgan, president of the nonprofit Information Technology Solution Providers Alliance in Dallas. “If your employees don’t fit that profile, it’s smart to invest in robust business-class desktops.”

Oobjective research confirms this as well. A recent Yankee Group survey of small business owners demonstrated that nearly half planned to buy both laptop — and desktop –computers in 2006.

Though most small businesses have people who work in and out of their offices, they still need both notebook and desktop PCs.

“Very small companies usually have an equal split between mobile and desktop PCs because their employees often have a wide range of responsibilities and roles; personal and work lives tend to overlap, driving these workers to mobility solutions,” said Gary Chen, Yankee Group, analyst, for small and medium business strategies.

These organizations tend to have traditional workforces with defined, narrow roles that often do not require mobility, Chen added.

Professional Grade Better?

When purchasing these new desktop computers, Morgan recommends small businesses stay completely away from the consumer PCs advertised in the Sunday papers, and choose, instead professional-grade models.

The trade association, ITSPA, also suggests investing in business-class computers with enough speed and memory, and the right proper of software, to bolster the efficiency of one’s workplace.

The payoffs of investing in a business-class desktop, according to ITSPA, include the following:

  • More processing power for lower cost than a laptop, resulting in faster downloads, more capacity for graphics and videos, and greater multi-tasking capabilities;
  • Built-in data protection and restoration capabilities;
  • Added security against theft and loss;
  • Flexibility to easily add memory and other components cheaper for desktops and sometimes not even available for laptops.

What is more, desktops have greater reliability and a longer usable life when compared to mobile devices that are easily dropped or damaged in transit, he said.

Desktops also have increased ergonomic flexibility for worker comfort, and the ability to replace individual elements, like the monitor, instead of the whole machine. Experts said that business professionals who need remote access to e-mail should consider a hand-held wireless device with data functionality, rather than a laptop.

For business travelers, the majority of hotels now offer computer work stations if a need arises. It’s easy to connect remotely with programs such as Microsoft Web Outlook, experts said.

Another solution is to get just one laptop for the entire office — that workers can check out if and when needed.

“Our survey also found that slightly larger businesses — those with 20 to 100 employees — have offices where 74 percent of their computers were stationary, while 26 percent were for mobile use,” said Chen.

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