I just got my budget for next year and, while it's meager as always (especially since I have some new sizable lease payments to take care of), it looks as though I can finally begin refreshing teacher laptops. This begs the question, though, what kind of laptops should I buy?
I've had good luck with the HP products we purchased last year for our big tech refresh and their prices are highly competitive. I really like my own laptop as well (a giant HP Pavilion), although it's more of a consumer model. However, with laptop prices continuing to drop, there is far less pricing differentiation between the major vendors. Even Lenovo has gotten more reasonable.
I know what I don't want:
- Glossy screens are the work of the devil. They smudge, glare and otherwise drive me nuts. Business-oriented models tend to have them as options, although they are becoming increasingly common as standard features.
- 17" screens. I love my giant screen and use it for small presentations, multitasking, etc., and it allows me to have a numeric keypad on my full-sized keyboard. The weight of a 17" laptop, however, is unacceptable for the majority of users, especially since most of us move around the building and take our computers home every night. Besides, 19" LCDs are so cheap now that a second monitor attached to a smaller laptop would be much more useful
- Glossy finishes: we teachers tend to be pretty hard on our equipment. The glossy finishes that companies like HP and Apple think are super spiffy just end up scratched and smudged
- Eraser head pointing devices. I finally have most of my users convinced that they can use a trackpad instead of a mouse. Eraser heads (at least without the option of a trackpad in addition) would drive them to drink.
- Apples: my users (with about 2 exceptions) would form an angry mob and lynch me.
So where does that leave me? Dell has some nice offerings, but my experiences with their customer service lately has left something to be desired. HP has aggressive pricing, but there are lots of other options. Lenovo still has arguably the best keyboards in the industry. Acers are just plain cheap. Toshiba? Sony? (I have a little vocal group of users that think Sony's are the be all to end all. Are they right?) Whitebooks? Fujitsu?
Where have you had experiences with solid, reliable, and affordable portables?