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FCW : October 2015
The notebook computer doesn’t get much respect these days. The myriad smaller, flashier mobile devices seem to get all the attention. The notebook computer may not be the sexiest mobile device out there, but for many functions, it’s still the best combination of flexibility, productivity, manageability and low cost around. Notebooks are workhorses for productivity, collaboration, creating content and much more. They’re much more powerful than tablets or smart- phones, with greater amounts of RAM and storage, and higher performance thresholds. With these capabilities, notebook computers can more eas- ily support more complex operating systems like Microsoft Windows 10—a key upgrade for most federal agencies. Because notebooks can run Microsoft Windows 10, they can easily run virtu- ally any software, from word docu- ments and spreadsheets to specialized apps. Larger screens also make it easier to edit images, video and documents. Get the Most out of the Modern notebook Today’s notebooks are faster, more secure and more feature-rich than ever before. Consider these factors before choosing your agency’s next notebook platform: Performance: For workloads requiring high levels of performance, choose the fastest processor your budget allows. Intel’s sixth generation dual or quad core processors, for example, provide significant performance and improvements over earlier processors. According to non-profit benchmarker BAPCo, the new processors provide 2.5 times greater performance than five-year-old mobile PCs. RAM: For high-end graphics, database and spreadsheet users, consider at least 8GB of RAM. Document creators or single-task users may be able to get away with 4GB of RAM. True power users should opt for 12GB of RAM. Storage: The minimum size hard drive to consider is about 500GB, but it doesn’t cost much more for 1TB. For users who need extremely high performance, consider a Solid State Drive (SSD). It’s more expen- sive, but also faster and more reliable. Battery life: More is always better, but larger batteries are heavier. It’s a trade-off to evaluate considering each individual’s preferences. Wi-Fi connection: Choose a notebook with dual-band WiFi (2.4GHz and 5GHz), which provides the most flexibility. Screen size: For users who toggle between several applications at the same time, a larger screen makes sense. For users who deal with images and graphics, focus on the pixel count—the higher the pixel count, the sharper the resolution. Tablets make sense for some tasks, while notebooks make more sense for others. Tablets are particularly useful for fieldwork where employees have to collect data or remotely capture images and upload them to a central database. Notebooks are more useful for creating content, using RAM- intensive applications and collaborating with others. According to Mobile Work Exchange, 76 percent of federal government workers use mobile devices of some type for work-relat- ed tasks. While these devices are essential to workers’ productivity, the different use cases sometimes mean employees must carry both a tablet and notebook. That’s not only expensive, but cumbersome. Agencies are more frequently consider- ing hybrid devices—a device that combines the strengths of the tablet with the power of the notebook. FEMA, for example, outfits its inspectors with Panasonic Toughbook 18 devices. Those are notebooks that can convert to tablet PCs. This combination of functions has helped streamline data collec- tion and reduced data loss. There are many other reasons for agen- cies to considering hybrid units—or 2-in-1s as some call them. They are the ultimate in flexibility. They let users remove the key- board if they want. They can also remove the screen to use it as a tablet. They are lighter than notebooks and can run Windows, which is critical for many applications. Most have both touchscreen and keyboard input options. Weight tends to be between about 2.5 and 5 pounds, and screen size runs between about 10 and 15.6 inches. RAM ranges from 2 to 8 GB, storage from 128 to 512 GB, and processors from 1.1 to 3.1GHz. Hybrid systems are also physically flexible. Some, like Lenovo’s Yoga devices, open like a notebook but let users fold the display back around into a tablet configuration. Others, like the ASUS Transformer Book, Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and HP Envy series, have detachable screens and keyboards, so users cab configure them any way they want. the unsung hero of Mobile Computing: the notebook tablet or notebook. Why not the best of both? GameChanger Game ChanGinG TeChnoloGy To meeT aGenCy missions SponSored report MobiliTy
September 30, 2015
November and December 2015