Replace Your Space

Price Points

Yes, there is a downside to the desktop replacement notebook: the bottom line. Prices for these portables are a lot steeper than for lighter-weight notebooks, which can be bought for less than $1,000. Expect to pay double or triple that figure for desktop replacement notebooks-most are selling for around $2,500. "That's way down from 10 years ago, when they cost around $5,000," says Steve Andler, formerly of Fujitsu, who's found that small-business owners are often willing to invest in new technologies for the sake of efficiency and convenience despite a higher price tag.

Upgrades, of course, will add to your total. If you're on a limited budget, you might have to make some trade-offs: How bad do you want that 15-inch LCD? How fast a processor do you need? You may want to consider one that automatically comes with some extras: Toshiba's SatellitePro 4280ZDVD, for example, includes a 6X DVD-ROM drive in its $2,899 price (street).

Tips Of The Trade

Choosing the right desktop replacement notebook for your business means taking several issues into consideration, including the following:

  • Determine your most critical needs: What level of speed do you require? A midrange speed is usually sufficient for most small-business users. Also, how important is screen size? Those who frequently read spreadsheets or detailed graphics might require a 15-inch screen; however, if your key application is e-mail, you can save money and go with a smaller screen.
  • Warranties range from one to three years, but they don't usually cover damage resulting from travel or lending the computer out. So if you take your notebook on the road a lot or share it with others, you might consider getting screen insurance, which costs about $199 per year.
  • Buyer's remorse? If you're not sure you'll like the product, choose one with a 30-day return guarantee. Who knows? You may have overestimated your needs or don't like the preinstalled trackpad or pointing device on your new computer.
  • Find out the level of docking you require for the number of peripherals you want to connect.
  • If you buy from companies that custom-configure their machines, don't forget to add shipping and handling charges. Gateway, for one, slaps on an extra $99 for desktop PCs (or an extra $49 for portables).
  • Not all 2000 models come equipped with Microsoft Windows 2000, so if you want this latest version, check the operating system.
  • Most computers today come with a 56Kbps modem, but you may want to consider future needs: Toshiba's V.90/K56Flex modems are ready to upgrade to higher speeds down the pike.
  • If you're a road warrior, how much battery power is enough? If you're normally away from AC outlets, choose a machine with a dual-capacity battery that doubles battery power. Sony's F480 replacement notebook with optional dual-capacity pack gives you six hours rather than three.
  • Do you store huge graphics files or entire business files on your hard drive? If you don't use a network backup or Internet storage arrangement, you'll need to buy the biggest hard drive you can afford because it's easy to run out of storage space.
  • Retail stores can't carry all the models we like to see, touch and try out, so do some research online, visit vendor sites for detailed specs, and visit online chat rooms for feedback on what others are saying about the product you're interested in purchasing.

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This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Replace Your Space.

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