Computers are an integral part of almost any kind of business. That makes choosing the right computer just as important as choosing the right employees.
Develop a job description for your new computer, listing the key functions it needs to complete like bookkeeping and other business activities. Select a small group of desktop computers, laptops and even tablets that meet those requirements and evaluate them against the following list to choose among the computer options that add the most value to your business.
- Price: Buy the best computer for the work you need to do. That means not spending on a hugely powerful machine designed for gaming if the most intensive thing youre doing is bookkeeping. Shop around for deals and specials, including price match guarantees, trade-in programs and rebates. Choose models that are easy to upgrade so you can increase RAM or storage without buying an entirely new system.
- Support: If you dont have your own IT staff (and even if you do), think about buying a computer with support assistance for the hardware and the installed software. Most manufacturers and developers include some level of automatic updates and fixes with purchase, but it pays to investigate additional options, including maintenance software and hardware and software support experts in your area.
- Security: Your computers hold valuable data, and you dont want to make it easy for thieves to walk off with that information. Some manufacturers enable hard-drive encryption and fingerprint readers to restrict access. Its also smart to consider security and virus-protection software to further reduce risk. Concerned about theft? Some laptop models ensure the computers physical security with a cable lock, padlock loop or chassis intrusion switch.
- Portability: Even if your business relies mostly on desktop computers, dont dismiss laptops. Todays models 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 1-terabyte hard drive for storing all your files. If your business uses Google apps, consider a super light Chromebook, which maximizes the power of cloud computing. Tablets can be useful for checking email or performing demonstrations, but they dont provide the full functionality of a laptop.
- Screen size: Focus on screen real estate, especially if your business requires employees to keep multiple windows open throughout the day. For laptops and convertibles, look for a screen size of 15 and up. For maximum screen space, opt for an all-in-one desktop, a desktop bundle that includes a monitor, or additional external monitors.
- Touch screen: Touch screens arent just for mobile-enabled devices. To bring touch-screen devices into the workplace, consider a desktop monitor or traditional laptop that integrates the functionality, a convertible like the Microsoft® Surface or a tablet like an Apple iPad. Tablets are especially useful in retail settings, serving as both a cash register and a customer service tool.
- Specs and speed: Most of todays computers are powerful enough to handle the vast majority of typical business tasks. But if youre planning to do serious graphics work, video editing or other processor-intensive tasks, then be sure youre buying a computer with extra power, like 8GB of RAM and the super-fast Intel® Core i7 and AMD A10 processors.
- Operating systems: Mac and Windows are the predominant operating systems, running 96 percent of the computers in use today. Select the most recent version of the operating system you and your employees are used to working on to minimize the cost and time of transitioning to a new OS.
These considerations give you additional insight into the world of business computers. Use them to guide your decision making.