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Hardware Thread, Staff Laptops in Technical; As of Aprils budget I'm going to begin a rolling replacement program of staff laptops, obviously there's quite a selection ...
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    mrbios's Avatar
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    Staff Laptops

    As of Aprils budget I'm going to begin a rolling replacement program of staff laptops, obviously there's quite a selection though so I'm after some user experiences and suggestions. Previously i made a thread considering the use of leaseing but this has been shot down by finance so I'm going to try and replace 10-15 laptops per year now instead. In the past all our laptops have been cheapo novatech self branded things but they're dreadful things that I wish to never touch ever again! We have some refurbed lenovo T410s which are lovely and fantastically robust but the new versions of the T series are probably a little expensive for us.

    The first batch I'm going to be replacing our for our Science department, who are the only department in the school who use their laptops as their teaching PC as well (every classroom has a PC, but in this case they seem to like using their laptops for everything) so I'm thinking docking stations could make life a hell of a lot easier here.

    Suggestions for 10+ laptops with docking stations that are nice and robust? We're also going to be buying them new laptop bags/backpacks in an attempt to stop them from carrying them around in carrier bags like some appear to like doing >_<

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    VeryPC_Colin_M (8th January 2014)

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    witch's Avatar
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    I have some Fujitsu A512s which were reasonably priced and I am very impressed with the robustness of them. I always had HP or Tosh but they have got more and more flimsy over the years.

    Why not reconditioned T410s? They will outlast most things and if you got them from ICT Direct they can do you a three year warranty if you want it

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    ICTDirect_Dave (8th January 2014), mrbios (8th January 2014)

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    Oaktech's Avatar
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    HP Probooks for preference...

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    mrbios (8th January 2014)

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    hallb15's Avatar
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    What sort of spec are you looking for?
    I can recommend the VeryPC thinbook. Mine has Core i5, 4GB RAM and a 120GB SSD and it flies along happily with the usual office, internet, movies, video editing. It powers up super fast too. The only negative is Windows 8.1, but that's not the laptop's fault!

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    mrbios (8th January 2014), VeryPC_Colin_M (8th January 2014)

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    mrbios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    I have some Fujitsu A512s which were reasonably priced and I am very impressed with the robustness of them. I always had HP or Tosh but they have got more and more flimsy over the years.

    Why not reconditioned T410s? They will outlast most things and if you got them from ICT Direct they can do you a three year warranty if you want it
    While I am impressed by the T410s, I've had one with a faulty monitor and two needing the fan assembly replaced out of just 20 we bought less than 6 months ago. Admittedly the Lenovo/IBM support was brilliant (entered tickets at lowest priority and still had someone on site within 2 days for all of them) I just get the feeling that refurbs are a bit of a ticking time bomb before something (albeit small) goes wrong. I like the comfort in knowing they're brand new and I quite liked the idea of the single cable for Power, audio, video and network etc on the onelink dock for the E531 model. (granted i'd be just as happy with something that slides into place)

    Quote Originally Posted by hallb15 View Post
    What sort of spec are you looking for?
    I can recommend the VeryPC thinbook. Mine has Core i5, 4GB RAM and a 120GB SSD and it flies along happily with the usual office, internet, movies, video editing. It powers up super fast too. The only negative is Windows 8.1, but that's not the laptop's fault!
    Minimum of: i3 3rd or 4th gen, 4gb ram, the option of a hybrid drive (SSDs are too small or too expensive for a decent size, HDDs are too slow), 14" or 15" screen.

    No major requirements really on that front, the main requirement is just to be robust and have the option of a docking station. Knowledge that the warranty is quick and easy such as IBM/Lenovo (not nessecarily them but anyone just as good) too.
    Last edited by mrbios; 8th January 2014 at 01:17 PM.

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    witch's Avatar
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    I see where you are coming from but I have been buying refurbs from ICT Direct for a long time now and their service is second to none. I have had few problems, but those I have had have been sorted with no fuss by @ICTDirect_Dave

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    We have Samsung 300e's.... not sure if they are still on sale but they are good laptops.

    We also have Toshiba U3.0 docking stations, the only problem I have experienced so far is that videos only like to be full screen in windows media player, any other video player just cant play it in full screen.

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    mrbios (8th January 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post

    Minimum of: i3 3rd or 4th gen, 4gb ram, the option of a hybrid drive (SSDs are too small or too expensive for a decent size, HDDs are too slow), 14" or 15" screen.

    No major requirements really on that front, the main requirement is just to be robust and have the option of a docking station. Knowledge that the warranty is quick and easy such as IBM/Lenovo (not nessecarily them but anyone just as good) too.
    I've found that branded docking stations for specific models tend to be very expensive for what you get. There are plenty of USB port replicators that do just as good a job for a lot less money!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    but the new versions of the T series are probably a little expensive for us.
    If it helps I think I can get hold of some T420s? Docking stations shouldn't be too hard either.

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    mrbios (8th January 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    While I am impressed by the T410s, I've had one with a faulty monitor and two needing the fan assembly replaced out of just 20 we bought less than 6 months ago. Admittedly the Lenovo/IBM support was brilliant (entered tickets at lowest priority and still had someone on site within 2 days for all of them) I just get the feeling that refurbs are a bit of a ticking time bomb before something (albeit small) goes wrong.
    We've been using refurb T410's T420's, T61's & T500's (which I think must be 4 years old now). The T410's do seem to have an inherent problem with the fans - we have had numerous ones replaced. They do seem to go quite quickly or not at all though. Otherwise the lenovo's have been fantastic (we musty have 300+ on site, which is a fair sample).

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    mrbios (8th January 2014)

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    The only issue i have this time with the older models is that I'm banking of keeping them for 5 years. Difficult to do with many laptops in a school i know....If i replace 15 per year for 5 years i should be able to replace all the staff laptops in the school just about. If i buy something that's 3 or 4 years old already (T410s came out in Jan 2010 and T420s in Feb 2011 - going by wikipedia at leat, i know build dates will be vastly different but the technology is still quite old now) then I'm going to struggle to keep them going i fear.

    I know i can't gauruntee that new ones would be any better mind you, but i feel they'd have a better chance at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by hallb15 View Post
    I've found that branded docking stations for specific models tend to be very expensive for what you get. There are plenty of USB port replicators that do just as good a job for a lot less money!
    Any you can point me to? I had a look around but all the universal or third party ones i could find seem to be just as expensive and/or not quite as good.
    Last edited by mrbios; 8th January 2014 at 02:02 PM.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Just got some Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C6 laptops from @Millgate at a good price, Core i3-4000M/4GB RAM/500GB HDD (though we're swapping them out for SSDs ourselves) and they feel very robust and solid, with nary a gloss surface in sight. Also got some Dicota Take.Off Smart bags at the same time that are superb for the price.

    I don't know as I've seen any laptops with SSHDs, unless you find somewhere to configure your own - even then it'll probably be cheaper to fit your own if you don't mind a bit of legwork.

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    @mrbios - our refurb T410's are replacing R61's which, when the last batch are retired will be 6 years old and most of those are physically in reasonable nick. I'm trying to get us into a rolling 5 year replacement cycle, so the 410's from last year will need to go for 5 years. I suspect in our case the increasing penetration of 'cloud' products will mean we don't run into performance problem - although the SMART IWB software seems to want to cripple anything we put it on!

    To be fair it's a bit of a gamble - but when I look at the build quality of laptops at an equivalent price I fear they wouldn't go the distance and in terms of performance, it's really only a few %. I think if we do run into performance issues fitting SSD's will make much much more of an impact.

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    hallb15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post

    Any you can point me to? I had a look around but all the universal or third party ones i could find seem to be just as expensive and/or not quite as good.
    Depends what ports you need. If VGA is enough then I know where you can get the older Tosh Dynadock for 45
    Dynadock - Universal USB Docking Station with Video (VGA) - Toshiba

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