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John Stokdyk

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Which laptops do you use/recommend?


Over the past month or so, we've been asking members of our sister sites UK Business Forums and AccountingWEB about the laptops they use.

We've just published our selection of the The top 10 laptops recommended by and for accountants. By its very nature, the list veers towards unassuming machines that are good for spreadsheet work.

I suspect trainers will have different priorities and wonder, in particular, how widely MacBooks have penetrated the profession.

To get the ball rolling and help us sniff out the most suitable and best value machines, we need your suggestions. It would really help to know what you think are the most important features for a laptop and to know how you rate your current machine with scores out of 5 for functionality, reliability, ease of use and value for money. Information on the type of machine and price you paid would be helpful, too, and any other information that might be useful to fellow members. Here's an example listing:

Dell Latitude D410
Type: 15.4in, 512MB RAM laptop workhorse with built-in WiFi
Price: £600 approx (now going for £200 or less)
Functionality: 4
Reliability: 3
Ease of use: 4
Value for money: 4
Bought by corporate IT department - good value and reliable, until the screen packed up after four years. Will probably be replaced with a later Dell model (eg e5500 currently on offer for £409).

Looking forward to your recommendations.
John Stokdyk
Technology editor

9 Responses

  1. Don’t forget Asus
    I use a Samsung R560 myself. It weighs a ton, and its two-tone finish is a bit like a cheap guitar… but I need the 4GB of RAM it boasts when I work with Articulate – especially since my web browser of choice is Firefox – and those are both very memory greedy!

    But I would hope that you won’t overlook the Asus Ee PC. When they were first marketed, they were very basic, and loaded with Linux (which is open source and free). So they were dirt cheap. But they’re so wonderfully small and light, that IT professionals were buying them and souping them up by installing other software on them. The manufacturers stepped up to the oche and produced more upscale versions to meet the demands of their unexpectedly IT-sophisticated market. My husband, who is an IT and Logistics Manager, has opted to have one of these as his machine of choice.

    I would also expect to see the Sony Vaio in the list somewhere. Mostly because of their extreme portability.

  2. Thanks Karen – that’s exactly the kind of feedback we were looki
    The accountants’ list does include two Eees, two Vaios and a MacBook recommendation for those who want to pose.

    It was great to meet you at Learning Technologies and I have to admit that I did notice your laptop as you Mind-Mapped and Twittered from the front row of the LMS 2.0 session on Thursday afternoon.

    As far as I’m concerned the two-tone look of cheap guitars is the epitome of cool, but I was interested that you appeared to have quite a big screen that occupied most of your lap. Is that because you want lots of room for Mind Maps & similar graphics – or is it something that is more useful when you’re working at home or with clients?

    These are the issues where I’m hoping we can zero in on machines that meet the specific needs of trainers.

    John Stokdyk
    Technology editor

  3. I wish!
    John – thanks for your kind comments. Yes – there I was, being geeky!

    The reason for the large screen was purely a cost issue. If I could afford a second, smaller, lighter machine (like a Vaio) for events like LT09UK, I would buy it in a heartbeat, but they are very pricy.

    Most new laptops have pretty decent screen resolution these days, so quality of image is not that big a deal. I was driven by my need of all that RAM and my restricted budget.

  4. Toshiba M700 Tablet
    Toshiba M700 Tablet
    Type: 12.1in, 1GB RAM tablet laptop
    Intel Core 2 Duo T5670 / 1.8 GHz
    120GB HDD
    Price: £800-1200 (different specifications according to whether or not you want mobile broadband)
    Functionality: 5
    Reliability: 4
    Ease of use: 5
    Value for money: 3
    I bought this earlier in the year because I am disabled and needed a tablet laptop. This way I don’t need to leap around the room using flip charts but can instead draw directly on the computer and have the results on the screen. It is a fairly expensive laptop but it is pretty high power in terms of processor and memory. It has a nice small size screen which makes it very portable (important for me) although not ideal for heavy duty slide writing.(I usually develop courses on my desktop and then transfer them later). Any halfway decent IT department will lead you into a network allowing you Internet access, and the power of the PC is such that a you can smoothly run a number of applications together (useful if, like me, you tend to splice in Excel/Videos). I have found delegates are very keen on tablet functionality, so much so that they refuse to use flip charts and want to use my computer instead…

  5. Love my Toshiba portege
    [pronounced ‘portayjay’ allegedly]
    Type: the dinky very lightweight one with the bendy screen
    Price: I think it was £1200 12 months ago, so probably cheaper now
    Functionality: 5
    Reliability: 5
    Ease of use: 5
    Value for money: 4 (I’ve saved a fortune in chiropractor’s fees)

  6. What I use
    I have got a Toshiba Satellite Pro U200 which work provide. I love thats its small and light weight as I travel around the Uk and India training so its good that it can be carried easily.

    Here is a link to a review of it

    I have to run multiple environments on it for training and also use more programmes through Citrix at the same time and find that it is great for this and is also fast at downloading from e-mails or the web.

    Hope this helps


  7. I’m a poser?
    I’m curious about this statement of yours John:
    “The accountants’ list does include two Eees, two Vaios and a MacBook recommendation for those who want to pose.”

    Does this mean that all these laptops mentioned are used mostly for posing?

    I only ask ‘cos I have a MacBook and never really thought of myself as a poser – and now I’m wondering if that’s a promotion or a demotion!

    I bought my Intel-powered MacBook with my own cash when they first came out just over 2 years ago. It’s smallish, but not overly. I got the bottom of the range model as a stop gap, planning to get a top-end MacBook Pro later, but haven’t needed to.

    I run Windows on it as I have some software like Minitab that only comes in Windows flavour, along with Camtasia. My heavily used battery is original and still gives 3 hrs+ usage, and due to it’s relatively small size & clear, bright screen, it works well in the environs of aircraft – I typically travel overseas on average once per week. From Bristol to Bucharest I have no issues at all with power supplies or WIFI connections. And for £650+ VAT at the time, I thought it a good purchase. It’s only ever crashed once (thank you Microsoft!) and just works. Recently upgraded to 2Gb RAM & 250Gb hard disk.

    Before that I had a Dell D810 with extra battery pack – a superb machine – good wireless, memory, screen, but pricey I believe – good for 9 hrs on a flight to Sydney.

    I currently also use a Lenovo T61 with Win Xp & 1Gb/120Gb – simply awful – I think that’s perhaps the Win Xp setup… Screen is nice, battery is extra size & still poor but WIFI is pretty good.

  8. No offence intended, Martin
    Sorry Martin, when I was compiling a simlar guide for AccountingWEB, it was clear that almost all the applications they use are Windows-based, which would mean they would not only have to pay the premium price for a MacBook, but would then have the added complication of running any Windows-based programs via an emulator. An accountant using a MacBook would definitely be courting the “poser” label.

    But in the more creative sphere of training, that’s much less of an issue, so I really didn’t mean to cast any aspersions over the Mac. Thanks for picking me up on this and coming forward with a very convincing case for the Mac. I’m just preparing an update for TrainingZone now, and will pay close attention to your comments.

    John Stokdyk
    Technology editor

  9. Interim laptop guide published
    We have now entered the second phase of our search for the best laptops for trainers with the publication of the TrainingZone guide to laptop PCs.

    The article discusses some of the different elements you should consider and makes extensive use of the suggestions posted here.

    Once we’ve collected a bit more feedback from members, we’ll narrow down the contenders to a top 10 listing in a few weeks’ time.

    Thanks for all your help so far.
    John Stokdyk
    Technology editor

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