Users often ask whether they should select a laptop of desktop.  The answer is it really depends on the users computing practices and daily responsibilities.  Laptops are more expensive so we do want to make sure users requesting a laptop are going to make good use of it.  For instance, if you are someone who needs to be mobile, whether it while on campus or traveling outside of campus, a laptop is a good option for you.  Examples would be Faculty, VP’s, Directors, or anyone attending a lot of meetings where you may wish to have access to your applications and files or take notes via your computer.  In addition, coaches, Admission Counselors, Development Officers all can make great use of a laptop.  On the other hand, users who mainly perform their duties at their desks and rarely travel would benefit most from a desktop computer that will have more resources and larger screen sizes.

Benefits:

No surprise, the main benefit of a laptop is its portability.  Those who travel for work or attend regular meetings on campus can take their computer along.  In addition, our new VPN (virtual private network) system will now allow you to connect your Cornell laptop directly to our network from anywhere with a reliable Internet connection as if you were setting in your office.  No more needing to leave your office desktop computer on so you can remote into it from home. One thing to remember in regards to the VPN service, your VPN experience is directly related the the speed of your home Internet connection.  The faster your home connection, the better the experience.  

Limitations:

Although the benefit of mobility is very important and in many cases out way the disadvantages associated with a laptop, it is important to acknowledge the disadvantages:

  • Laptops generally have smaller screens and keyboards than desktops
    • Due to cost, docking stations are not provided.
  • Laptops generally have smaller capacities than desktops of the same relative cost.  This fluctuates based on available funding for the annual upgrade process. 
    • Smaller and slower hard drive
    • Slower processors
    • Less memory (RAM)
  • Repairs are more difficult and will require at least 48 hours turnaround time if the machine must be sent to a repair center
    • Temporary replacement laptops come with standard productivity software and cannot be reloaded with specific software for each employee.    Employees who request a laptop recognize that this is an inherent risk
  • Laptops are harder, or in some cases impossible, to upgrade (memory, etc)
  • Laptops are inherently more vulnerable to damage and theft
  • Laptops may require more technical skill to operate than desktops
    • Power management issues
    • Connectivity issues
      • Connecting to other devices (printers, projectors, etc.)
        • Drivers (may have to download and install)
        • Cables (requires some familiarity with multiple types)
      • Connecting to outside networks (may require configuration skills)