As computers are now seen as a commodity, you may be inclined to believe that “all computers are made the same” and drift towards a decision based purely on price.
The reality is that most computer manufacturers have two product lines – one designed for the consumer and one designed for commercial application – and there is a significant difference in how these two are designed and choosing wrongly could impact you in ways you never realised!
Many of the computers sold at places like Harvey Norman, Domayne, Office Works and other retail shops come from the “consumer” product lines. These machines are designed around the premise that they will be used by home users as opposed to business use.
What does this mean to you?
The parts in a consumer product are generally not designed to be used for extended periods like those in the commercial products. In an office, our computers are generally on for our entire work day. Sometimes we leave them on longer! Most home computers are only turned on when they’re needed – unless of course you’re a gamer!
Like choosing which oil to use for a car engine depending on whether it’s a race car, or the family wagon, the difference is that the parts in a commercial product are designed to experience more active use over a 3 year period than that of your home computer. As a result, using a consumer based product in your office may result in an increase in hardware problems occurring.
Which brings me to the second point… warranties and support.
When you buy a computer from Harvey Norman and the like, the warranty included with your product is generally a single year. Yes you can upgrade this to a 3 year warranty, but to act on this you must generally take the device into the store you bought it from, let them do some in house testing, then they’ll send it away to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
I’ve heard horror stories of people waiting over a month for their computer to come back!
In comparison, commercial lines often include a warranty that provides you with support where the manufacturer will send out a technician to replace the faulty part in your laptop in a very short space of time, and you can often upgrade this warranty to a 3 year “on-site” warranty, with variable “response” times that suit your business best.
Given how critical computers are to the modern business person, would you prefer to have your computer fixed quickly, or be held to ransom whilst you wait for your computer to come back to you?
That’s not the only reason that buying a “consumer” product is bad for your business. Quite often the consumer products come with the “Home” version of Microsoft Windows, which is unable to properly connect to your business network.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone out to set-up a new computer for a client who raced out and “bought a computer themselves”, only to find the first thing we need to do is get them to pay for the “Windows Anytime Upgrade” so they can get the “Professional” version of Windows just so we can connect it to their network.
This upgrade may not be expensive, but paying a technician $130-$180 per hour whilst he or she waits for the upgrade to download over your internet connection is not the most cost effective way to get the job done.
Quite often, the cost of the computer combined with these “upgrade” costs end up making your “cheap” computer more expensive than the right “commercial” model!
Bottom line, it’s really best to speak with your consult and let them advise you on what’s best for your business. It may seem like it’ll cost you a few extra bucks now, but in the long term, you’ll be glad you did!