As issues surrounding price, performance, and functionality continue to improve, more and more people are using laptops for business use. In fact, there are so many on the market that it can be hard to choose – Enter GWL with our list of some of the latest and greatest business laptops.
machines, a number of manufacturers are designing and marketing dedicated business laptops. There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a laptop, in order to make sure you are getting a machine that can live up to your expectations.
While laptops are better today than ever before, there are still compromises to make in terms of screen size, power, connectivity, and hard drive size. While everyone has different business needs, there are a few universal factors that are integral to the design of all business laptops.
Processor performance is very important in any mobile business machine, especially for businesses that have to deal with demanding or mission critical applications. Hard drive size is also an important issue, as is memory, battery life, and screen size. It is important to note that some of these factors may effect one another, for example a bigger screen and a faster CPU normally mean less battery life, and faster generally means heavier.
Build quality is also a very important issue in a business focused machine, as is the weight and size of the computer. Connectivity is also vital, and one of the main ways that business models can be distinguished from consumer designs. A business laptop needs to be able to communicate to other machines and peripherals easily, meaning that the more ports you have access to the better.
While there are tons of dedicated business laptops on the market, in our opinion – and for very different reasons – these are some of the best right now in 2010.
Lenovo ThinkPad X201 – the touchscreen one
This is a very desirable – and very fast – machine with a 12.1 inch screen, Intel Core i7 processor, matte black design, and touchscreen that rotates into tablet mode. While not all people will need a tablet design, it gives this laptop that little something extra that makes it stand out. You can use both Windows touch functionality and the Lenovo SimpleTap interface, for truly efficient usability that is fantastic in a business setting.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X201 also features great viewing angles for those times you need to work in groups, and a responsive keyboard build. One thing that lets it down a little is the short wrist rest area, which makes extensive use uncomfortable for people with large hands. Battery life is also less than average at a little over 5 hours, although it is certainly not bad enough to be a deal breaker. The ThinkPad X201 starts from $1549, although the touchscreen version will bring this up around the $2000 mark.
HP EliteBook 8440W – the durable one
This mobile workstation is both durable and powerful, with an Intel Core i7 processor and rugged overall design. At around 5 1/2 pounds it is not particularly light weight, but it is certainly not back breaking either. The keyboard feels great, although the touchpad is a little cramped for extensive use. The 14 inch LED screen has a fantastic resolution of 1600 x 900, and even the audio sounds superb for a business machine.
Two things that make this such a good business laptop are its great selection of ports and its overall durability. With a spill resistant keyboard, pressure resistant design, and fingerprint sensor for security, the EliteBook 8440W is a great choice for business road warriors who need a laptop they can rely on. It does generate quite a bit of heat however, meaning its not ideal for extended naked lap use. The EliteBook 8440W sells for about $1500.
Dell Precision M4500 – the all rounder
This Dell laptop is marketed as a mobile workstation, and sold in a number of different 15.6 inch configurations. It certainly has that business laptop look about it as well, which is either elegantly understated or boardroom boring depending on your taste. It is heavy as well, but most of its 7 pounds can be put down to pure build quality and grunt.
Good viewing angles and outdoor readability are always good traits on a business machine, and the Precision M4500 has both. Connectivity is also very impressive, especially the inclusion of both a PC card and an Express card. CPU goes up to i7, RAM goes up to 8GB, and resolution goes up to 1920 x 1080 – with the price of the Intel Core i7 models going for the not particularly cheap price of about $3500.
Toshiba Portege R705 – the ultra-portable one
The Toshiba Portege R705 is a great choice for people who need a light and thin laptop for everyday business use. While it is not the most powerful computer in the world, and certainly not the most durable, the power it provides within its tiny frame is very impressive indeed. At only 3.2 pounds this laptop is just screaming “please, take me somewhere, throw me in your bag, you wont even know I’m there”.
If the Portege R705 has failings as a business machine, it is due more to the lack of ports than the not particularly fast Intel Core i3 processor. In particular, two USB ports might not be enough for some business users. While it may be a stretch to call this a business laptop, for people doing business on the road part-time, weight and size are big issues that need to be addressed. The Portege R705 manages to have few limitations, and a great asking price of around $890.
Dell Latitude E6400 XFR – the rugged one
This is a great machine for those of you who need a – much – more rugged design, although this kind of build quality does come at a price. The Latitude E6400 XFR is ideal for field work, and meets a number of military standards for heat, moisture, and vibration. The Dell Latitude E6400 XFR is the kind of computer you can spill your coffee all over, and then drop from a 6 foot height just for the fun of it.
With up to an Intel Core Duo P9600 processor this model is not as up-to-date as the other computers on this list, although it still competes quite well and is unique enough to make the cut. Featuring a 14.1 inch display that is incredibly bright for outdoor use, excellent viewing angles and a backlit keyboard, this is a highly useful bit of kit. If you truly need a rugged go-anywhere machine and have about $5000 at your disposal, the E6400 XFR is a wonderful laptop. For a less hardcore but still durable design, there is also the much cheaper semi-rugged Toshiba Latitude E6400 ATG.
Exactly what makes a good business laptop means different things to different people, depending on the nature of your business, where you like to work, and how much power you really need. My best advice is to make a list of the specifications that really matter to you and how you work, and compare as many different models as possible that fall within your individual budget.