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Staying connected: Best laptops for remote work

Staying connected: Best laptops for remote work

By Adam King, Technology Director, MNA Technology Services

Nearly two years into the pandemic, many nonprofits are considering long-term remote work. And since you’re going to be working from home for the foreseeable future –maybe even permanently- now is the time to replace your older laptop. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start.  I’ve come up with a list to help you make the best purchase.

Choose business grade computers

For starters, the computers you buy for your nonprofit employees should be business grade. Business grade computers are better built and last longer. When shopping online, go under the business section to view models. For example, a business grade for Dell would include Latitude and XPS models. For Lenovo, you want to look for the ThinkPad series. When choosing your computer, there is a series of minimum specifications you should have including an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB hard drive, and a  Windows 10 Professional operating system. You can increase these minimums if you can afford it or if the employee’s role requires a faster computer

Which warranty does your organization need? 

Computer parts can fail leaving you without a computer until it gets repaired. If you selected a “next business day” onsite warranty, the vendor can quickly ship you the part and a technician can be onsite repairing your computer the very next day.  While these next business day warranties are critical, they do not cover accidental damage such as spills or drops. If there have been incidents of accidental damage from your employees while working remotely, consider the accidental damage warranty. It is usually priced under $100 and offers three years of protection.

Security, ports and accessories

As mentioned, business grade computers are better built, but they also include better security features built into the device to protect against cyber threats. These security features also include data encryption which helps protect your sensitive data when your company’s devices leave the office. When it comes to ports, most work from home environments are wireless, so you don’t necessarily need an Ethernet port for internet. However, you’ll likely want plenty of USB ports and an HDMI port to plug into an external monitor. If you are rolling with two external monitors, you will need a docking station to accommodate that.  You’ll also want to equip your staff with USB webcams. While most laptops have webcams built in, external webcams have a much better quality video. Additionally, if you have dual screens and your laptop closed, it’s nice to have the camera perched on top of the monitor. Finally, a wireless keyboard and mouse are critical when working remotely. Plus, the more you can  reduce the number of wires in your home office- the better.  

Which laptops are best?

Now to the question everybody wants to know: which laptops are the best for working remotely. My top choices? The Dell Latitude 5420 and the Lenovo ThinkPad T14. As mentioned, these are both in the business grade series of Latitude and ThinkPad. Feel free to explore other models within these series.

To Mac or not to Mac?

So what about Mac computers? Mac laptops are great computers. If you choose to get one, make sure all of your software and systems are compatible before making the purchase. The new MacBook Air with the M1 processor is a nice computer and meets the minimum specifications. However, anyone looking to do work beyond basic office tasks should upgrade to the MacBook Pro series---and don’t forget to add the AppleCare warranty!