A Series on Technology: Laptops
For some, this recent crisis was manageable because they were already accustomed to working remotely. For others, it’s proven a nightmare. This is our sixth installment on technology. You can bury your head in the sand and wait for all this to pass or you can embrace the new technology available for your practice. It doesn’t require an IT degree or an IT department. Incorporating advances in technology into your practice is easier now than it has ever been. Even if you had stuck your toe in the sea of new technology, now is the time to wade in a little deeper. How can technology help your practice? How hard is it?
Let’s talk about laptops.
As you begin analyzing the technology that you use in your practice, you will quickly come to some decision points involving how you interact with it.
Do I need a new desktop?
What features should it have?
What about a laptop?
Do I need a laptop too?
Can I handle my practice with just a laptop?
If I get a laptop, what features should it have?
These are all good questions and the ones that you should be asking. And the answers are easy. The more you would like to be mobile and able to work away from your office, the more clearly you should focus on a laptop only to handle your needs. And it can. I would probably go so far as to say that if you have a desire to work away from your desk at all, you should probably go with the laptop only. If you invest in a laptop with plenty of memory and speed (get as much as you can afford), you will be fine.
The key to successfully using your laptop is really not in the laptop but in how you store and access your data.
If you are “all-in” with cloud storage, use of a laptop in your office and elsewhere can truly be seamless. It will connect, update, and sync your files and your work to the cloud without you having to do anything. And, because you are using the same device everywhere, you will readily have (and be able to find) everything you need.
Yes, you can have a desktop and a laptop with all your data stored in the cloud and get away with it, but why bother? There are some things that are resident on each (like preferences in particular programs) that by default store on your device. For example, it can be frustrating and inefficient when you are manipulating a spreadsheet on one device and it doesn’t do what you are used to from the other.
If you like the feel of a larger keyboard and the look of a larger screen at your desk, you can easily have both with your laptop.
The “guts” of your computer will be the same. There are a variety of ways to connect with your “workstation” at your desk with your laptop. Many have become used to using more than one screen at a time. You can do this with your laptop too. In fact, you can find relatively inexpensive portable second screens to take with you and your laptop wherever you go (just don’t try to use it on an airplane).
There are many hybrids available these days. Tablets have become much more robust. Perhaps a tablet will provide what you need in mobility. However, it probably cannot take the place of your desktop like a laptop can.
It still has limitations. It simply cannot store as much as your laptop. So, if there is no internet service wherever you may be, your laptop won’t miss a beat. But your tablet may be more limited. New technology appears on the market constantly. Pay attention. Ask your friends and colleagues what they are using. Read reviews on the internet. You might find one that does all that you need.
The penultimate question on laptops: Apple or Windows? It depends.
Honestly, I’m biased. I made the decision a few years ago to go down the Apple path. I do not regret it. I work exclusively from my laptop wherever I am. It easily connects, syncs, and integrates with my iPhone. And I can easily use Microsoft Office products. Historically, trying to meld an Apple device with Microsoft systems has been filled with headaches and hiccups. I think that has improved significantly. My wife has run the gamut of MacBook imitations by a host of manufacturers. Let’s just say that my experience has been much better than hers. But, a Mac is different. The learning curve however is not steep. I will never go back. Apple is here to stay. The sooner you embrace it the happier you will be. But if you need to take baby steps as you begin better integrating technology and mobility into your practice, with something that easily integrates to whatever you have at the office, go with a Windows based laptop and at least make that much progress.