A laptop is a major purchase for your small business.
In addition to the cash outlay, you depend on your laptop to execute critical business functions. Without it, you could drop the ball on projects that are important to your company's success -- or worse yet, find yourself tied down to a desktop computer.
Unfortunately, a laptop purchase can also be a source of frustration for many business owners. The laptop market is crowded with competitors hawking their wares, each one promising business leaders portable technology at rock bottom prices. Common sense dictates that you'll need to know to look for before you start shopping, but which features are mission critical and which ones can you live without? The answer depends on the benefit that is most important to you.
If extreme portability is the primary factor in your purchase, you have a couple of options. Some professionals keep a netbook on hand for their mobile computing needs. For less than $500, you can get a small, low powered laptop with a 13" screen and basic computing capability. If netbooks don't have enough juice for you, consider a 13" thin laptop with 1G of RAM, 160 GB hard drive and dual core processors.
Users who require high definition video and photo demand features that stretch the limits of laptop technology. Unlike the average business user, multimedia users need extremely fast processors and large hard drives. If multimedia features are important to you, look for 15" or 17" laptops with 4GB-8GB RAM and a 320GB+ hard drive.
Business Applications on Laptops
Fortunately, most business users don't need souped-up machines designed for multimedia professionals. Instead, business users want durable laptops that offer the perfect combination of security and performance. IT departments love laptops with security features and internal components that integrate with existing systems. Laptops in this category typically have 2GB—4GB RAM, 160GB+ hard drives, 12" -- 15" displays, and mobile modem technology.
Laptops for Home Use
Sooner or later, you may discover that you like your business laptop so much that you'll want to buy one for your home. The good news is that you can probably get away with a cheaper model for personal use. Laptops with a 15" screen, 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive and a price tag under $1,000 are usually enough for the typical home user.