TTT #3 – Next Computer – Laptop or Desktop?

A common question people ask is whether they should purchase a laptop or a desktop for their next computer.  I can’t possibly give a definitive answer to that question – both have their pros and cons.  I will, however, give some pointers that may help you decide, and some ideas to consider when you are getting ready to make that purchase.

Let me first give some of the advantages of having a laptop.  The obvious advantage is for someone who travels and wants to be able to take their computer with them.  Another consideration to make is whether you would like to be able to use your computer in any room of your house.  Both my wife and I have desktop computers, but we also have a laptop that allows us to work in the living room or the dining room or our bedroom.  Sometimes it is nice to be able to sit in your recliner to check e-mail or go onto Facebook or any other tasks.  It’s also convenient to be able to move a project to a large table and spread out your paperwork and do the work you need to do.  So if you are not one who travels, don’t necessarily dismiss the idea of a laptop – it still has numerous advantages even if it never leaves your house.

So why would someone not get a laptop?  First of all, they can be a little more expensive than a desktop.  This is especially true when it comes to repairs.  We generally recommend to people that when they purchase a laptop they strongly consider getting a three-year warranty.  The reason for this is simple.  On a desktop, if something likes the keyboard fails, you can generally pick a new one up for $10 – $20 and plug it in yourself.  On a laptop, if the keyboard fails, it will often cost a little more to purchase, but you will likely also have to pay a technician to install it.  Likewise, if other components fail, they are a little more costly for the parts, and generally quite a bit more costly for the labor to install.

Secondly many people don’t like the size of either the screen or the keyboard of a laptop.  With LCD’s continually coming down in price, one can replace their monitor with a newer and larger monitor for between $100 and $150.  Unless you want to plug in an external monitor to your laptop, you are stuck with whatever size it comes with.

Thirdly, one should consider the theft factor.  It’s relatively easy for a laptop to be stolen.  If it is stolen, and you have personal information stored on it, then not only do you have the cost of replacing the machine and the inconvenience of the lost information, you face the real possibility that the personal information could be stolen and used to steal your identity or wreak havoc on your credit rating.  It is much harder for someone to steal a desktop.

Fourthly, a question to consider is how careful will the user be about handling the equipment?  Will this machine be used by all family members?  Will the 12 year old drop the laptop on the floor?  Will you spill your drink on the keyboard?  These are all things that I have seen happen with laptops and they can be expensive to repair.  It’s just one other consideration to make when deciding what to purchase.

I’m sure there are many other pros and cons for laptops and desktops.  After all, each person’s needs are different.  The best recommendation I could give is to talk with someone with more experience about what your needs are and what would be best for you.

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