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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Tuesday March 25, 2003
04:48 AM


[ #11216 ]
Dear All,

I once knew someone who did tech support for universities who said that when he bought equipment for the student computing labs, he insisted on them being laptops (which always then get bolted to the table, mind you, so portability was never a goal). I don't remember his arguments for wanting laptops, but I remember that I had all sorts of arguments against that.

What do you think?

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  • I think he's missing a lot.

    Laptop computing power is smaller than desktops (specially because it has to keep its processor cool in a tight environment). They are also more fragile, with less mechanical protection than desktops. Their keyboard is also smaller. Parts for replacement are much more expensive. You can't easily add disks (though it won't matter if the lab has a centralized data server). There are smaller memory limits (if you work with engineering apps it bothers a lot).

    I used to use a laptop f
    -- Godoy.
    • The big speed difference between laptops and desktops has typically been the speed of the disks. The small disks they cram into laptops are usually slower.

      I believe the fastest laptop disk you can get is 5400 RPM, while they are coming out with 10000 RPM IDE disks now for desktops (you can get 15000 RPM SCSI). Also, you can gain some speed advantages on a high-end desktop by running multiple disks and distributing the disk load. I have a laptop that I swap in a disk for the DVD player though, and use an

      • All the limitations of laptops aside, I do think it can be easier to outfit a lab with laptops than desktops. I don't know the logic your friend was using, but the easiest justification I've seen is on the lifecycle cost.

        Machines are going to break, so you need to have spare parts on hand from a PC organ bank. Desktops change constantly, and there's a risk that what you have on hand will be incompatible with what you need to fix. Laptops cycle less frequently, and there is much less variability over ti

        • That would be my word for using laptops in a university lab setting. I know, I am going through an upgrade cycle at a university lab.

          You can't buy near the trailing edge. These machines have to last 3 years minimum. That means getting the most performance per dollar, there is no comparison between laptops and desktops.

          Others have written about some of the physical and peripheral issues. You brought up cannibalization for parts and dealing with a variety of configurations. You can by lots more similar mach
  • I chatted with an IT guy at work once about this. He claimed that laptops had 3x the mortality rate of desktops, at 2x the cost. Things that might inconvenience a desktop, like coffee in the keyboard, tend to be fatal to the laptop. That said, laptops, particularly if your organization supports wireless, are a *lot* more convenient for hauling into meetings to take notes.