back to article And the winner is...the laptop!

You’re out and about, and you know you’ll need to hook back to the office to pick up that important email or access that corporate system – so what do you want to take, a notebook or a handheld device? To our surprise, according to over 1,000 of you, compared to mobile access via a handheld device, remote notebook access was …

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  1. Phil Miesle

    virtualization isn't just for servers you know...

    We're completing a successful pilot of VMWare ACE as a replacement for our company desktop standard. No longer will we care about the hardware and operating system running on that hardware...so long as it can be a VMWare host OS, we're happy.

    This actually makes our support a lot easier...one image, no need to adjust drivers here and there, or deal with obsoleted machine lines. In my previous company we had probably one image to manage for every 40-50 employees...and that was just to deal with the different hardware.

    We'll now have a handful of images, depending on the employees role. Much more scaleable. (Now if only I could get someone to OEM the images...)

    This will make our desktop management MUCH easier...and while we're not planning to take the next step, it seems pretty logical to have the employee bring their own (supported) hardware to the table.

    Tradesmen bring their own tools to the job and pay for the maintenance/replacement of those tools. Do we really not expect information workers in 10-15 years time to follow this paradigm?

  2. Torben Mogensen

    Decent screen and keyboard

    The main reason I prefer laptops over smartphones or PDAs for remote work is that I need a decent (at least 10" 800x600) screen and a keyboard I can type using both hands. For all their functionality, smartphones and PDAs can't provide that. I also need VGA output for connecting to beamers, but some smartphones/PDAs do provide this, so this is not a major concern.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious really

    For any business user - by which i mean someone with a job that delivers value to the bottom line of an organisation - a laptop will always win over Blackberry or any other mobile device.

    Why?

    Because you can do everything you need to do using a laptop. Even if you can manage to do everything on a mobile device, or phone to the rest of us, it will take you a day as opposed to an hour.

    Laptop's always win.

    Oh - and i can't see the mobile internet catching on either. It's a marketers dream but not an end user.

    These guys really need to move on. Mobile's are phone. Stop complicating things by pretending they're any use for anything else. Please.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BMW...

    Torben, that's a ~classic~ German-English (Denglish) mistake. A "beamer" in English is a BMW - I don't imagine you need to connect your laptop to one of those (correct me if I'm wrong - maybe you are in the automotive industry).

    On the other hand, that light-beaming thing that's known in German as a "Beamer" is actually a light-projecting thing in English - hence known as a "projector".

    Mit freundlichen Grüssen,

  5. daniel

    Re: Obvious really

    I agree.

    I run with a decent phone in one hand and a PCMCIA edge card in a Samsung microportable 1.6 Ghz dual core PC (nicely supplied by samsung with a 19" screen for desktop use.

    I want a phone to phone... Bring back the old Nokia bricks that could be used as a lethal weapon against hoards of unwashed yoofs and still work properly, that worked until the battery dies rather than dropping calls after 30 seconds when the battery is at 30% charge (QTek), that start quick after pincode being put in (rather than 2 minutes. QTek, I'm thinking about you again...), and don't flash up memory full errors when trying to send texts needing to reboot the Windows Mobile phone more often than Windows ME, and give me Internet on a screen I can read with intelligent navigation, fast url entry with a decent keyboard...

    What a shame my Psion 5 can't have a telephone upgrade... maybe I'll look at the Palm foleo offering if the battery life is good (or even a OLPC that can be recharged by a winder when in the field ;-)

  6. John O'Leary

    Everything has a place

    I tend to use my Nokia E61 (eur 70 or so with subscription) for simple tasks such as looking up something on the Internet or checking the date or time (programmers don't wear watches :-) The screen and keyboard are usable, the battery lasts a few days and it fits comfortably in a jeans pocket.

    A laptop is something that I use when I need a 1920 wide screen or proper keyboard or heavy applications. But it is never comfortable on a lap so it is almost always on a table and plugged into the mains to save the battery. Lugging a high-end laptop around an airport is no fun, and the battery will only last a short flight.

    Just my opinion,

    John O'Leary.

  7. Steve

    Tradesmen's entrance

    "Tradesmen bring their own tools to the job and pay for the maintenance/replacement of those tools. Do we really not expect information workers in 10-15 years time to follow this paradigm?"

    That's fine. So, every time you phone me, I'll be charging a 50 quid call out fee, and my hourly rates will be very very high, and frankly, the price of parts these days, well, I could tell you some stories.

    And I won't be able to finish that project on Friday, because I lent my spreadsheet to my brother in law, maybe Wednesday, that OK for you ?

    Mind you, with the way the weathers been lately...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User supplied hardware?

    We found user supplied hardware to be a bad idea, can't enforce security, business data makes the private PC liable for legal reasons, and support variations are much more difficult. We do offer some minimal web based apps for genearl use, and this is the ideal - except for security, again. The wireless laptop using a phone card for offsite link and VoIP for phone (ha!) is the way to go for us, all apps are available. Bottom line, until we have reliable voice control, we must have a screen and keyboard which means the laptop format. Handset phone+text and laptop are really two different markets with some degree of overlap.

  9. Britt Johnston

    Fits our big-company rules

    1) over half the users have a laptop only

    2) a non-vip user needs double signatures to get a handheld

    3) syncronisation worldwide appears to be difficult, so sync. software has been declared non-standard

  10. b shubin

    Absurdly bad idea

    yes, outside contractors are expected to bring their own tools. outside contractors are also more expensive (usually), self employed, and frequently exempt from company policies and procedures.

    if an employee is expected to use a tool on the job, the employer can be reasonably expected to provide it (and quite properly write it off as an operating expense). to put this a different way, if an employer expects me to bring my own laptop or handheld, i will absolutely refuse to load any of their security or compliance software on my precious equipment that i paid for and have to support myself...oh, and call me "contractor", as my rate just increased fivefold, and i'll set my own schedule, thanks.

    this is a support and compliance nightmare. it's fine for startups with no compliance requirements, but unworkable for anyone else. in an always-on world with multiple, rapidly evolving threats, this is the worst possible solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

    it doesn't take that much to issue people the equipment that is durable, reliable, and suitable to get their job done. the IBM T-series used to be excellent for this in the Windows world, provided the OS and security software was configured correctly and the user couldn't install apps. Mac is an excellent mobility platform. BlackBerry is a stable, mature handheld (even has a firewall) with a superbly designed interface (my latest, an 8800, took a swim in a pond and survived). these are just some of the products widely available that would make remote functionality accessible, reliable and secure.

    this is yet another boneheaded beancounter money-saving brainstorm, and it will turn and viciously bite the organizations that adopt it. i look forward to the additional hourly billing this idiocy will generate for outsourcers who will be called in to fight the resulting fires.

    it's like watching the fall of Troy: you saw it coming, but no one wanted to listen.

  11. Cameron Colley

    Different tools, different jobs.

    I think both PDA-type devices and laptops both have their uses. My Blackberry will keep me in touch, and abreast of any alerts or other drama -- but, obviously, if I'm going to make some changes to the system I'm going to want to VPN in on a laptop.

    For personal use too, I find a mobile device to be useful for checking bank balances, emailing friends, checking the status of my web site and the like -- though for that I prefer a Windows Mobile Device (HTC Universal), as there seems to be more freeware available than for the blackberry, frighteningly, IE on Windows Mobile seems better than the browser on the Blackberry 8800.

  12. Andre Fouche

    Title

    The comment from Phil Miesle on laptops and VMWare ACE as a replacement for company desktop standards is very true ............ We are currently rolling out a UK wide scheme of FREE LAPTOPS for every University student in the UK. This in itself will no doubt cause big headaches for the system depts involved ..........BUT , if all the students / staff had the same laptop, the same image , the same login scripts and all using VMWare ACE, then life would be a doddle !! ( and the systems depts involved will have a much easier time with deployments )

  13. Ben

    I like to keep work in it's place..

    I refused to take a blackberry; if I did take one, I'd be expected to be at work's beck and call 24x7 for every trivial little issue.

    I like to be able to turn work off, so my company laptop is fine for me. If for some reason I really am needed outside of my usual hours, they can call me on my mobile and I'll fire up the laptop if it's important enough.

    I know that others I work with have also turned down the offer of a blackberry for similar reasons and so this may be the case in other organisations. Perhaps this is another part of the reason why notebooks were found to be twice as popular as mobile devices for remote email, etc access.

  14. Jon Collins

    Comments on form factors - each to their own!

    So, there doesn’t seem to be much dispute that there will always be a place for laptops! There’s the question of ergonomics, as well as the number of apps that can be run on them compared to handheld devices.

    “I want a phone to phone” says Daniel, “and a [laptop with a] keyboard I can type using both hands,” says Torben. “Everything has a place,” concurs John O’Leary and rightly so – perhaps the last thing we should be tryiong to do is to constrain people to any one form factor. I’m not sure I fully subscribe to the remark “It's a marketers dream but not an end user,” about the mobile Internet, but everyone’s mileage will differ – perhaps we should ask another bunch of questions about that?

    Oh, and I’ve learned what an overhead projector is called in German! Gotta love this job :-)

  15. Jon Collins

    Comments on user-supplied hardware – more minuses than plusses?

    A clear divergence of opinion here – but I get the impression that the split is between those setting the policies/implementing the schemes, and those impacted by them. Are IT Pro’s just (ahem!) tradesmen who should supply their own devices, or indeed, do we believe that the mothership should provide the kit? I’m personally feeling out of touch with this one as I’ve not worked for a big company for many years, but having said that I now have a personal laptop and a company phone.

    Is it perhaps more like company cars? The benefits of a corporate runaround are largely in terms of convenience – often you get what you are given, but at least you don’t have to think about it. Car allowances became popular when the tax breaks started to erode, but I don’t know many people that actually spent the cash specifically on a car, rather, it just went into the pot and they just carried on driving their own vehicles.

    The danger – and where the analogy dries up, particularly for laptops – is that computers often need to meet quite specific criteria to be suitable for corporate use. “Can’t enforce security” says one respondent; “yet another boneheaded beancounter money-saving brainstorm” says another. So – is it doomed to failure, or will virtualisation rescue it? Only time will tell, perhaps.

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