Q: Should I buy a laptop or desktop?

Tech Q & A
– Submitted by many

A: I often get this question from people contemplating their next computer purchase. The fact of the matter is that you will almost always get more for your money performance-wise from a desktop. You will pay a premium for the mobility of a laptop. However, the answer to whether you should buy a laptop simply comes down to answering one question: do you need the mobility of a laptop?

While you will pay a premium for a laptop, the reality is that the difference in performance between a laptop and a desktop may be not appreciable for average use. Obviously, power-users who need the most performance out of a computer should opt for a desktop. But for the average user, most laptops of today will provide plenty of power. So if a user needs to use a computer away from their desk, then the obvious choice is a laptop.

It used to be that laptop users needed laptops because they needed a computer when away from their office or home. However, wireless technology has freed people from being tied to their desk and users are taking advantage by having their computers more accessible. It’s no surprise that laptop sales are growing much faster than desktop sales. Many laptops are being sold because users want to use them anywhere in their home or office, not just when on the road.

One reason NOT to get a laptop is if a user has limited desk space. I often have users tell me they want a laptop because they don’t want a big computer on their desk. If this is the ONLY reason a user wants a laptop (and not for mobility), then they should consider an all-in-one machine such as an iMac. The flat-panel design of today’s iMac do not take a lot of desk space, and as mentioned above, you will get more for your money.

Another common situation I run into is where a user thinks they need both a laptop and desktop. They want the larger screen along with external keyboard and mouse when at a desk. I strongly recommend AGAINST doing this. The primary reason is that keeping data synchronized between two computers quickly becomes a big hassle. Unless a user has strong computer skills, switching between computers and keeping data consistent between them can be overwhelming. The second reason not to do this is that it is usually cheaper to buy a laptop and docking setup with external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. This way, a user can use their laptop on the road and still feel like they are using a desktop at their desk, keeping their data safely on one computer.

As usual, please submit any technology questions you may have and your question may be featured in this newsletter!