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The New World of Business Computers

by Allan Hoffman, Staples Contributing Writer

Choice is great, right? It sure is, except when the options leave your head spinning. Businesses have a lot to consider when purchasing computers these days, what with touch screen laptops, Chromebooks, Windows 8 vs. Windows 7, and choosing between desktop computers, laptops and even tablets.

This may be the post-PC era, as it’s been heralded by ReadWrite. But if you’re running a business, you almost certainly need traditional computers to stay productive and manage everything from payroll to projects. In short, the line between business computers and home computers may have blurred considerably in recent years, but that doesn’t mean any computer will do for your business.

As you evaluate your options, consider these factors:

Support: Many businesses, especially small businesses, rely on hardware and software makers for support. If you don’t have your own IT staff (and even if you do), think about buying a computer with prepackaged support assistance. Look for top Hewlett-Packard models that come with Support Assistant, which installs automatic updates, schedules PC tune-ups, and streamlines access to HP technicians via online chats.

Security: Your computers hold valuable data, and you don’t want to make it easy for thieves to walk off with that information. Aside from the security measures provided by your operating system, be sure to check whether your machines can be secured to a desk. New Lenovo models help to safeguard the computer’s physical security with a cable lock, padlock loop and chassis intrusion switch.

Portability: Even if your business has typically used desktop computers, don’t dismiss laptops. Today’s laptop computers and tablets pack a lot of power and can handle just about any computing task. Look for laptops with at least 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 750-gigabyte hard drive capacity for storing all your files and apps.

Screen real estate: Whether you choose a laptop or a desktop, be sure to focus on screen real estate, especially if your business requires employees to keep multiple windows open throughout the day. For laptops, look for screen size 15” and up, or opt for an all-in-one desktop, or desktop bundle that includes a monitor. Still not enough space? You can also consider an extra monitor.

Cost savings: If economy is a key concern, consider a Chromebook from the likes of Acer®, HP or Samsung®. These devices will be particularly suitable for businesses that use Gmail and Google Docs for work.

Touch screen: With touch-screen devices in their pockets and purses, today’s computer users have grown accustomed to touch as a key to the computing interface. To bring touch-screen devices into the workplace, consider a Windows tablet, such as the Microsoft® Surface, Apple iPad or a touch-screen laptop.

Specs and speed: Most of today’s Windows computers are powerful enough to handle the vast majority of typical business tasks. But if you’re planning to do serious graphics work, video editing or other processor-intensive tasks, then be sure you’re buying a computer with extra power, like 8 GB of RAM and Intel Core i7 and AMD A10 processors.

Windows 7 or Windows 8: When thinking about operating systems, think of the choice like this: familiarity versus the future. There’s no easy answer to this question, but if you’re currently upgrading from XP or don’t want to invest in training for Windows 8, then Windows 7 is a suitable choice.

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