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Hardware Thread, Portable wireless laptops and trolleys in Technical; My Leader has come back from half term with an idea of buying and implementing a trolley of wireless laptops. ...
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    alexknight's Avatar
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    Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    My Leader has come back from half term with an idea of buying and implementing a trolley of wireless laptops.

    Has anyone had experience of this and what are your thoughts??

    Also any idea of costs.

    Thanks

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    mark's Avatar
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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    I'm looking too - I think my last quote was for £8k for 15 laptops and a trolley. Then add a wireless AP to stick with it.

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    No No No No No

    From my experiance, it does not work. Great idea in theory, but in practice, a huge headache.

    Laptop Cons:

    Easily damaged.
    Costly to repair
    Slow performance on wireless LAN
    Same price will get you far better desktop PC
    Making sure all are charged. eg What happens if they need to be used 1 lesson after another.

    I could go on lol

    Just my experience.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    Expensive but works. Make sure you get a trolley with power points in it so you can charge them when they are put away. You'll also need to make sure the power is on a timer so you don't burn out the batteries. Finally be warey of having too many laptops on at the same time. WiFi AP's tend to die at around 15 - 20 clients in my experience.

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    I've been asked to look into this too.

    I've explained what a dumb-ass idea it is but the head insists that he has seen it working at other schools.

    I have this thing about ONLY buying quality laptops (HP generally) but I have been looking at the Apple options.

    I have this little plan developing in the back of my mind to introduce Macs in Music and Art after seeing the ease with which they can be intergrated into a Windows domain at the EduGeek conference and the prices of Apple gear is VERY competitive and there are upsides (especially some of the creativity software available - and they look nice!).

    I also intend to do a good job of making the floor in question wireless so that the laptops are covered by 2 APs at a time. Using them as Citrix clients most of the time should also keep bandwidth usage to a minimum.

    Oh yeah - they want 30 too!

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    alan-d's Avatar
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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    We have around 168 laptops in trollies around the school all using wireless via cheap buffalo Air Stations.

    The main problem we have is installing new software as the laptops have to be switched on for it to work, this has the effect of slowing down or even stopping ppl logging on. We now have to visit each set with a switch & lots of cables to update them via the wired LAN.

    Most of ours are still under warranty but when that runs out - repairs are more difficult and cost a lot more than your average PC.

    Teachers and kids love them though - can't get them off them.

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    alexknight's Avatar
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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    Thanks for all the feedback.

    In principal I have no problem with the concept, as it could be ideal as a portable ICT room.

    The down side being laptop battery times, repairs, setting and unpacking each time and ensuring they are recharged etc, and the bandwidth on Access Points.

    Oh and the cost! But costs are now coming down to a more reasonable level.

    Has anyone else actually had experience of deploying portable laptops and if so what was the genral satisfaction/dissatisfaction.

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    We have a similar thing floating in the ether here......yes, a good way to create a "mobile" IT suite. However, as has been said..the repair/security side of things could be an arse. I wouldn't put it past some of our kids to have them on EBay by close of play..

    I used to support one in my previous school, a GM Junior/Infant school in Shrewsbury. Not Intel laptops though-Apple eMate machines. Built in IR networking, Shockproof, waterproof, moulded handles, with keyboards and touchscreens. To be fair, I never had much need to look at them. The trolleys came in, got recharged, went back out.

    I liked them...if you wanted a class collaboration lesson, sit the kids in a circle and the laptops did the rest. If you wanted a field trip, the kids could take them and drop them in streams etc. If they needed to print, then you just aimed the IR port at the IR printers.

    The main problem I found was the touchscreens failing. We never had any nicked or wilfully damaged, but they were very hot on guarding them.

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    I've spent the best part of today repairing the damage caused to the laptop trolley here by kids:

    *Wireless cards broken/snapped/'opened'
    *Keys pulled off
    *Mouse 'nipples' snapped off
    *Power cords knotted

    and that's just the obvious stuff!

    The kids will often try to steal wireless cards, power-packs and occasionally, whole laptops.

    When they work they work well but in our experience here they tend to hinder and even halt lessons. The laptops themselves are getting in a worse and worse state and very soon there won't be any keys left to pull off or any wifi cards left to pinch.

    A shame really because they are pretty good laptops and would be great if they all worked when we needed them. Some lessons we're lucky if even half of them are working (we have 2 trolleys, each with about 12-15 laptops).

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    I'm thankful our kids, bad as they may be sometimes, like the IT dept.

    Due to bad communication, a laptop and wireless presenter was left in our theatre this morning at 9...it was still there, undamaged at 2.45pm, and the place was fully open....phew.

    We've had laptops nicked in the past...4 off my desk for example over a holiday..but I'm far from convinced the kids did that.

    I still have a toshiba in a locker that needs a keyboard though..i'd forgotten that..

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    Don't do it!

    We had a nice full trolly of Acer laptops at the start of February this year. We locked it in a room inside a room. A student locked themselves in somehow (with required crow-bar) and broke them out, stealing eleven of the buggers!

    Apart from security issues, I would say that wireless networks are a complete pain the a*** for schools and ruin a technician's day often. Go for a nice new suite of slimline desktops or something.

    Having said all that and been negative- the students do love the things (too much as you will note from our experience above). We use them for hard to teach groups and they actually get some work done while using them...

    Swings and things really...

    Paul

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    DONT DO IT!!
    We have two sets of 16 laptops and they are nothing but trouble - they log on exceptionally slowly, the software sometimes gives up altogether and as for the hardware problems - we have also had keys ripped out - wireless cards damaged etc
    But the main problem is that no-one ever makes sure that they are plugged in to the chargers properly so half the time they dont work and guess who gets the blame!

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    Just to add some nice to this bad ...
    We have:
    3 sets of 16
    2 sets of 15
    1 set of 15 (well its only a cabinet at the moment, waiting for laptops to be ordered

    Work for technicians during the day? Push one cabinet out with a science technician.

    Only ONE card has gone missing since the first cabinet (July 2004) and two screens damaged. Keys come off regulary but have rarely been lost altogether - this is from the same set of laptops though.
    The more recently bought laptops have had very little problems - all staff understand they are not a replacement for ICT suite and dont try to push them to their limits.
    Tip if you do go ahead with this: stick to a limit of 10 laptops per access point - 3 daisy chained would probably still not max out 1x 100mbit port.

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    Don't do it!

    I agree with all the above (good and bad: the kids love them; the staff love them when they work, otherwise they chew my head; and they take up most of my time).

    I'm in the middle of setting up 20 new wireless laptops right now, after the previous 12 got trashed in less than 2 years. My protests went unheeded.

    This time we have a more strict regime for controlling the machines. Only the staff are given keys, they have to sign them out and back in. It's also made clear to them that their departments will be charged for damage.

    Laptops are simply not designed to be used by hundreds of kids.

    Having said that, I have a couple of RM Mobile One noteboks on my desk as I'm writing. They do seem to be sturdier than the usual laptops. We'll see how they last.

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    Re: Portable wireless laptops and trolleys

    Quote Originally Posted by SYSMAN_MK
    Laptop Cons:

    Easily damaged.
    Costly to repair
    Slow performance on wireless LAN
    Same price will get you far better desktop PC
    Making sure all are charged. eg What happens if they need to be used 1 lesson after another.

    I could go on lol

    Just my experience.
    you could add, speaking from experience, that as they're all in one place (and some of the little darlings know where that place is) they're also easier to nick.

    beeswax

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