Image of a busy office

Step 1: Laptop, Desktop, All-in-One, Tablet, Phone, Chromebook, or Surface?

Before deciding on a specific model, you should decide on what type of “form factor” to go with, which simply means desktop, laptop, All-in-One, or other.

  1. You are on Step 1 – Choosing your form factor. 
  2. Step 2: Review the list of options you may not know about or forgotten.
  3. Step 3: Check out our specific model, with our commentary.
    1. Desktops
    2. Laptops
    3. Printers – You may want to check out our printer information page before selecting.
    4. More recommendations including email services, wireless setups, phone and tablets, and more!
  4. Feel free to check out our Buying Assistance Services for help purchasing a new computer.

Laptop

Good

  • Portable and compact, with little to no wires.
  • Takes up the least amount of desktop space.
  • It’s becoming popular to replace a desktop with a laptop.

Bad

  • All features being equal – they run slower because they tend to run hotter than a desktop and may have to slow down the processor to keep it within limits.
  • Much greater chance of physical damage.
  • Much more difficult to service.
  • Less reliable. Tiny or delicate parts more prone to breaking – hinges, displays, keyboards, DC jacks, etc.
  • Probably no DVD drive.
  • Limited number of ports.
  • Internal replacement parts availability is a few years. After that, reduced to searching for used parts or getting lucky someone has it in stock.
  • Because of the heat problem in very thin laptops, fan noise may be more prominent. They are more susceptible to cooling fin clogging than desktops.

Desktop

Good

  • Easier to service than other devices.
  • Although it can be argued endlessly, desktops may perform better than laptops, assuming equal components used, due to heat buildup on super thin laptops.
  • Except for All-in-Ones, free to select your primary screen size. 
  • Higher degree of customization.
  • Modern desktops take up much less space than years past, but laptops have the edge due to smaller screen size. 
  • Probably has a DVD drive.
  • Greater chance of long term parts availability.

Bad

  • Not portable, at least not easily.
  • Needs external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • More visible wires.
  • Needs more space due to monitor, keyboard, mouse, and the computer itself.

All-in-One

Good

  • More compact, like a laptop, but with a much larger screen.
  • Takes up less desktop space than a desktop computer unless the desktop computer is on the floor, otherwise it’s the same.
  • All-in-One and desktop performance are comparable. 
  • A few less wires needed.
  • Typically a bit less expensive than a comparable desktop computer because of the integrated monitor.
  • Service difficulty is comparable to a typical desktop computer.

Bad

  • May or may not come with a DVD drive.
  • May not have an extra port for a second monitor.
  • Like laptops, we have found that long term replacement part support is similar.
  • Like a laptop, if the monitor fails, you can’t use it unless the external video port still works. On a desktop you can attach a different monitor easy enough.

Tablet and Phones

Good

  • Excellent portability.
  • Small size.
  • Good battery life.
  • Excellent for quickly reading email, texts and news on the go.
  • Good with software specifically designed for tablet or phone use.
  • Good for quick games designed to run on tablets or phones.

Bad

  • Small to very small screens. Must sometimes expand the text and scroll left and right to read web pages. 
  • Some websites don’t work well when viewed with a tablet or phone. Sauve’s works great!
  • Slower performance than comparable desktops and laptops. Seems like they take a long time to start now-a-days.
  • Restricted to using programs (Apps) from the Google Play or App store. You will not be able to use many of the programs you may be using on a computer, or you will be forced to use a scaled down version specifically designed for small, mobile, screens.
  • Not good for detailed work such as long document creation. This issue is lessened if external keyboards and mice are used.
  • Minimal to terrible printing capabilities.
  • Getting data such as pictures off the device may be clumsy without some knowledge of cloud storage. USB is an option if it works – not a guarantee.
  • Recovering data due to the device not starting or loss of login credentials can be extremely problematic. We typically recommend saving data using cloud storage or moving to a computer as soon as possible. This is a big deal and many tears have flowed due to failed mobile devices.

Chrome Book

Good

  • Very quick boot.
  • Long battery life.
  • Screen size equal to many laptops.
  • Thin and light.
  • Long documents can be created using Office365 or Google Docs.
  • Popular in schools.

Bad

  • Will not run any programs that are typically found on normal laptops and desktops unless they are 100% web based.
  • Cannot “load” programs like on a laptop or desktop.
  • Restricted to using programs found in the Google Play store.
  • Must have a Google account. Forget the password and you lose access.
  • Tend to be over-priced.
  • Without Internet, they are not much use.
  • Very limited and focused in what they can and cannot do.
  • Very much Internet focused.

Surface Tablet

Good

  • The surface tablet is just a small screened laptop with all the good things that go with it.
  • Touch and pen enabled.
  • Screen is very sharp.
  • If you like running a typical Windows laptop or desktop with a small screen using both keyboard and touch only, the Surface is the way to go.
  • Strongly recommend using Microsoft services such as OneDrive and their online login to backup your data. To easy to lose data if the tablet fails to boot, especially if the drive is encrypted with BitLocker and no account access.
  • Basically, it’s a tablet type of computer running the full version of Windows. That’s what sets it apart from other tablets from Samsung and Apple.

Bad

  • Overpriced.
  • Higher storage capacity gets expensive.
  • Needs the keyboard accessory and external mouse to be even remotely useful as a full blown Windows computer. Use the genuine Microsoft keyboard for best results.
  • Hardware servicing is extremely difficult. We will no longer disassemble the devices. 
  • Data recovery from a failed internal drive is almost impossible. Recovery from a non-booting surface is, shall we say, challenging.
  1. You are on Step 1 – Choosing your form factor. 
  2. Step 2: Review the list of options you may not know about or forgotten.
  3. Step 3: Check out our specific model, with our commentary.
    1. Desktops
    2. Laptops
    3. Printers – You may want to check out our printer information page before selecting.
    4. More recommendations including email services, wireless setups, phone and tablets, and more!
  4. Feel free to check out our Buying Assistance Services for help purchasing a new computer.

Contact us with any questions!