Many remote IT support professionals use laptops for their work because of their brilliant portability and power. However, laptops tend to be less flexible when compared to desktop computers. That means when you’ve made your choice, there’s no turning back.
Whatever big manufacturers, such as Acer, HP, Lenovo, and Dell, are selling, you could just grab based on your budget. But, what if it doesn’t contain all the ports you’re looking for? What if the screen or keyboard isn’t right? What if the machine just doesn’t do what you want it to perform? While it’s true that you can do some upgrades, like moving up to a faster or bigger hard drive or upgrading the RAM, you can’t just swap your keyboard monitor and other parts out. Even the possible upgrades aren’t as easy to do as they’re on a desktop PC.
In this buying guide, you’ll get an overview of the different laptop specifications you’ll come across with and tips on deciding what to prefer.
- Size Of The Screen
Laptop sizes usually range from 11.6 inches up to 17.3 inches. Models measuring 13.3, 15.6, and 17.3 inches are the three display sizes that most brands, like Acer, ASUS, Dell, and HP, tend to offer. There are, however, laptops that actually fall outside these common sizes, including those that have display sizes of 11.6, 12.5, and 14-inches.
You’ll obviously want a smaller sized laptop if you want to be able to provide remote IT support service anywhere or while on the go. Compared to its larger counterparts, they tend to be not only thinner, but also lighter. Laptops that have a screen size of either 13.3 inches or 12.5 inches are what you should be looking for. They should also have a weight of just one up to 1.5 kgs.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that smaller sized machines often can’t support the same high-end discrete graphic cards or Intel Core CPUs you’ll find in their larger counterparts. They’ll also feature a selection of ports that are less robust, o wonder why you’ll often see larger laptops being used by top IT support companies, like TCG Network Services. That being said, you’ll probably need to opt for a laptop with a larger size if the remote IT support work that you’ll do requires a standalone graphics power or a larger display.
- Screen Resolution And Overall Quality
Screen resolution is also something that should be taken into account aside from screen size. When you check the market for your next laptop, you’ll generally find a minimum resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. For the majority of tasks, it should be fine. With this many pixels, working on two apps side by side is even possible. That’s because many modern web pages are already capable of reformatting themselves so they’re suited to the available screen space.
It pays to visit a store where you could try a few business laptops out to really get an idea of what you prefer most in a screen. The screen you’ll go for should be decided by your working preferences and your eyesight.
Next up, consider whether or not you want a laptop that has a touchscreen feature. As you probably already know, touchscreens have become very common these days. There’s no doubt that such an additional functionality can make some of your remote IT support tasks easier than others. In fact, this feature is included as standard by some brands. Others demand a modest surcharge to have it as an add-on to your machine.
Opting for a touchscreen laptop, unfortunately, can sometimes add a glossiness to the machine’s display. Glossier screens are often more susceptible to glare, though it isn’t really a universal trait you’ll see among touch-sensitive displays. If you’re editing video content and images, watching content, or gaming, then, that can be a bit of a drawback. As an IT support professional, however, you won’t be doing much of those things anyway.
You might want to opt for a laptop without a touchscreen feature if you’re a natural typist or some of the above issues persist. It’s something that you should carefully consider despite modern touchscreens now becoming much better compared to their predecessors.
- The Ideal Keyboard
A laptop with a comfortable keyboard is what you need for long typing sessions. To avoid a poor user experience overall, especially when hunting for specific keys, like delete or arrow, don’t choose a laptop with a keyboard packing in each key under the sun.
What you want is a keyboard with full-sized keys and an overall comfortable layout that includes a space around the arrow keys. When you let the keys go, they should have snappy responsiveness and adequate travel on the downstroke.
Backlit keyboard can also be very helpful, especially in dimly lit environments. Keyboards with backlit might seem like one superficial detail at face value, but backlit keys can really make typing much easier for you.
You’ll see fewer ports in a laptop when compared to a desktop PC because of the limited room around its base. Carefully think about the things you need to be plugging in to the machine for this reason. Like what many people do, you’ll need to unplug one device if you have a mouse and a printer plugged in and you want to grab some files off your camera, unless, of course, the laptop has an SD card reader already built into it.
Note that some laptops, especially those for starters, only have as few as two ports. If you’re going to be transferring a lot of data from your laptop to another device, and vice versa, it’s essential to note that many modern laptops have one or more USB 3 ports that will allow you to transfer data faster.
Three USB ports are already fine for most people. Fortunately, larger laptop models tend to have three of them at the minimum. Note that you have to make sure that you got enough spare ports if you require reading and burning of discs when you opt for modern laptops as many of them don’t have built-in drives for DVD anymore. An additional budget is also required for purchasing a USB model DVD drive.
USB 3.1 ports are now starting to appear on high-end laptops that are the latest to be released in the market. When it comes to peripherals and transfer speeds, these ports just open up a new world of possibilities up. One USB 3.1 port is able to host a significant load of high-performance and high-power peripherals, such as external hard drives through an external dock, as well as displays.
Of course, networking should also be considered. Laptops already have built-in wireless networking. However, to get the best transfer speeds, especially if you got a fancy 802.11ac router, you still have to check the wireless chip support of the laptop and see if it’s capable of supporting your router. Also, note that an Ethernet plug can’t be found in all laptops. For remote IT support professionals who travel a lot, it could be an issue. That’s mainly because some hotels have poor wireless connections, but offer fast Ethernet networking.
When purchasing a new laptop, passing the Core-based CPUs of Intel is hard to do. There’s a good chance that you’ve seen the stickers being plastered on all modern laptops for the Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors of the silicon giant.
When it comes to multimedia tasks and multitasking, Intel Core processors are hard to beat in terms of performance for many users. The mainstream computers’ majority is made up of Core i5, while entry-level systems are Core i3-based.
However, if you really want to get the most out of your laptop, then Core i7-based systems are what you should go for. If you have the budget, however, then, go for larger laptops with Intel’s i9 Core processors. Compared to i7 Core processor-running laptops, the Core i9-based systems are even more powerful. Intel’s i9 Core processors can even rival desktops for performance.
- Battery Life
If you’re going to be traveling a lot with your laptop, this should be one of your priorities. After all, getting a seat in a café or a train near a power socket isn’t always possible. Small, light laptops offer superior battery life when compared to the larger models. It’s mainly due to them being equipped with a smaller screen and less powerful low-voltage processors.
An SSD is going to make your machine boot faster as in the case of desktops. It will also make your laptop feel more responsive and far quicker. If you can afford an SSD, go for it. Note, however, that you can’t just purchase a small SSD for your OS and stick in one cheap hard disk to take care of your personal files, unlike on desktop PCs. That being said, make sure your laptop has big enough SSD since the vast majority of these machines have room for just one disk. What’s recommended is at least 120 GB SSD.
Balancing the abovementioned features with your needs and budget is important. That being said, some compromises could be made. Keep in mind that a laptop that ticks all the boxes come along rarely, so it’s always necessary to be very careful when choosing one for your remote IT support work.