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Hardware Thread, Recommended laptop vendors in Technical; Greetings, all. Our governors have asked me to investigate options regarding the purchase or lease of laptops for all teaching ...
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    Recommended laptop vendors

    Greetings, all.

    Our governors have asked me to investigate options regarding the purchase or lease of laptops for all teaching staff - including docking stations for ease of connectivity in the classroom. Looking at around 100 machines, 70 classrooms.

    Wondered if anyone had any experience of such a purchase or lease? Any recommended vendors - or those to avoid? Any pitfalls or gotchas?

    All comments welcome...

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    I'd suggest my beautiful refurb Lenovo T410s

    i5, 4GB ram, 160GB HDD (SSD options available), Win 7 Pro, 12 Month RTB warranty (second year option available)

    I can get docking stations for them too.

    They're also incredibly robust.

    I use one of these and I love it!

    Drop me a PM if you want me to look at some pricing for you.

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    BlackTie (27th February 2014)

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    Norphy's Avatar
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    If you want proper docking stations (i.e. ones which connect via a dedicated docking station port rather than glorified USB hubs), you're probably limited to the tier 1 vendors such as Dell and the like. Even then, you're probably limited to the enterprise lines (i.e. Latitudes rather than Vostros/Inspirons).

    The Stones (rebadged Clevos) that we have on site are perfectly adequate but they don't have docking station ports which would mean that your teachers would have to plug in USB plugs for the whiteboards and VGA for projectors etc.

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    @ICTDirect_Dave does good quality refurbs (used in an old establishment).

    The rest fighting for your attention would be @Millgate, @CPLTD, @VeryPC, and then there is stone also

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    BlackTie (27th February 2014), ICTDirect_Dave (18th February 2014), Millgate (18th February 2014), VeryPC_Colin_M (18th February 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackTie View Post
    Greetings, all.

    Our governors have asked me to investigate options regarding the purchase or lease of laptops for all teaching staff - including docking stations for ease of connectivity in the classroom. Looking at around 100 machines, 70 classrooms.

    Wondered if anyone had any experience of such a purchase or lease? Any recommended vendors - or those to avoid? Any pitfalls or gotchas?

    All comments welcome...
    Hi BlackTie,

    As nephilim said, we can offer numerous options for you. We work with every vendor including the @VeryPC boys so we're very unbiased. We can also offer leasing too.

    Feel free to drop me an email @ luke.jones@millgate.co.uk and I'll be happy to help

    Luke

  9. 2 Thanks to Millgate:

    BlackTie (27th February 2014), VeryPC_Colin_M (18th February 2014)

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    john's Avatar
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    Worth checking the history of your docks if you are going that way, as has been said Dell enterprise do true docking stations and they have been the same connector for years (we have a LOT of Dell docks where I am and thus use Dell laptops due to that), New "sexi" Lenovo kit that people like and want is non-dockable without a USB3 dock which the Lenovo one is nice it has dual VGA, USB3 Ports, Networking etc... so well worth looking at and considering them as once you have 70 docks you are basically stuck with that choice for a long time with vendor specific docks and if that vendor changes the dock connector you are stuffed.

    If I was to do it in a school and had to have docks, I'd be going for the new USB 3.0 ones as the drivers for them go on all the makes and gives you some level of general docking VS a vendor specific dock as I would have fear that I'd spend say 10K on Lenovo docks and them change the connector in 2 years time so you are not able to dock the new ones.

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    VeryPC_Colin_M's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting @BlackTie and thanks for the mention @nephilim and @Millgate

    Surely it's got to be the gorgeous, lightweight, incredible value VeryPC Thinbook 15.6" (same chassis as Stone's 15" laptop) with the Full HD IPS screen upgrade (because Staff need a great screen) coupled with a Toshiba dynadock to connect the LAN, Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard. Intel Wi-Di enabled CPU and Dual band 5GHz Wi-Fi card for broadcast to a Wi-Di enabled interactive screen too for less cable mess, and to the network if wireless coverage is good throughout the classrooms. Syscap for hassle free public sector approved leasing into the bargain. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to know more @BlackTie

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    @VeryPC_Colin_M. Two questions:

    Whenever I've seen a USB to VGA adapter, the video performance has been abysmal. Certainly not good enough for playing flash video from the likes of YouTube. What's the performance like with this device?

    Secondly, most teachers here at least prefer to clone what's on their screen onto a projector rather than span across the built-in monitor and the projector. Since Windows would presumably treat this as another display adapter rather than two screens on the same adapter, can this device achieve this?

    Ta!

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    Hi @Norphy good to know you; good questions.

    This is the puppy that customers have been voting for with their wallets; dynadock Not heard a peep out of any of them regarding video performance on it, nor any issues with attaching 2 monitors and the laptop, but will ask around. I gather most teachers have the dock hooked to the whiteboard too with the screen extended / cloned not by windows, but by the on board video mode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VeryPC_Colin_M View Post
    I gather most teachers have the dock hooked to the whiteboard too with the screen extended / cloned not by windows, but by the on board video mode.
    But surely that defeats the object of having a dock if you need to plug multiple cables in? At least with a Dell dock, you just clip the thing in and that's it. The laptop is powered from the dock, the VGA/DVI output and USB connections come from the dock too.
    Last edited by Norphy; 18th February 2014 at 12:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norphy View Post
    But surely that defeats the object of having a dock if you need to plug multiple cables in? At least with a Dell dock, you just clip the thing in and that's it. The laptop is powered from the dock, the VGA/DVI output and USB connections come from the dock too.
    Hi @Norphy how does the DELL dock connect to the monitor and whiteboard and keyboard and mouse - cables right? Wouldn't this be the same as using the dynadock or any off the shelf 3rd party dock? You're right the dynadock doesn't charge the laptop. It's not an elegant solution by any means but it's 1 cable to the dock and then everything else connects to the dock.

    My goal here is not to present a solution to compete with a laptop plus proprietary dock as we can't. My aim is to show there are ways of achieving the same goal of easy connectivity without being locked in to a particular product.

    If we examine what is required by @BlackTie Wi-Di could work for broadcasting images to interactive boards thus negating the need for multiple cables to whiteboards / monitors etc. I agree though that the cleaner the solution the better and the DELL you speak of achieves this with its dock.

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    VeryPC_Colin_M's Avatar
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    Check out the review for this docking station. Targus Universal USB 3.0 DV Docking Station review: Turn any laptop or Win 8 tablet into a desktop replacement | PCWorld I think this would be perfect and connects the laptop via USB3.0. The dock is equipped with DisplayLink technology, so it can drive up to 6 outboard displays (there’s one DVI and one HDMI, but Targus provides DVI-to-HDMI and DVI-to-VGA adapters in the box and 4 more connections via DisplayLink to USB3.0 adapter). It has the look of a plug in docking station but the flexibility of a standalone. This vastly increases the choice of laptop.

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    hallb15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norphy View Post
    @VeryPC_Colin_M. Two questions:

    Whenever I've seen a USB to VGA adapter, the video performance has been abysmal. Certainly not good enough for playing flash video from the likes of YouTube. What's the performance like with this device?

    Secondly, most teachers here at least prefer to clone what's on their screen onto a projector rather than span across the built-in monitor and the projector. Since Windows would presumably treat this as another display adapter rather than two screens on the same adapter, can this device achieve this?

    Ta!
    We have a Dynadock in school and it works very well. I can confirm that it installs as a display adaptor, network device, and audio device. You can then decide whether to clone the desktop on the laptop display and the dynadock VGA/HDMI output or extend across both.
    We use this with a Fujitsu laptop running Win 7 Pro 64. Its used by the school business manager so not for heavy video use, but I've tested it with iPlayer and youtube and not had any issues.

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    Valid points both - but certainly think most teachers here would prefer the simplicity of a cloned display rather than the elegance of an additional/presenter's display...

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    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts - sorry for the tardiness of my thank-yous but it's been a bit busy of late..!

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