Extended Warranties: Are they worth it?

You’re at the store and the cashier asks you if you want the extended warranty and you always say no thank-you.  The decision seems logical: if parts break the manufacturer’s warranty covers it.  Also, when your equipment breaks down it might be time to upgrade anyways.

However, an interesting piece by the Harvard Business Review takes the other side.  The author, Rafi Mohammed postulates that an extended warranty gives piece of mind.  The costs and benefits of extended warranties inflate greatly with the number of machines to consider.

For example, the extended warranty on a Lenovo Thinkpad adds $269 to the $849 price tag.  That extended warranty doesn’t cover accidental damage, which will add on another $429 for four years.  Multiple that cost by 100 for an entire company and you’re running a number close to $40,000.

So is it worth it?  Well, a full service for a laptop’s motherboard and LCD screen costs on average around $900, less than the cost of the warranty.  In this scenario, that means 44% of your laptops have to totally fail in order for the extended warranty to pay for itself within a four-year period.

If your employees are constantly on the go, laptops in tow then maybe half your laptops will break within four-years.  In the end, it all comes down to: should I just buy a new one?

An IT Guy’s Guide to Buying a Laptop

In this go-go world of ours, it seems like a laptop is now an essential for the small business.  Open any Sunday circular and you’ll be bombarded with ads for laptops.  So what to spend your hard earned money on?

Laptop vs Tablet

There are more and more crossovers between laptops and tablets.  For example, the new Windows tablet and the Asus Transformer both have the option to use a keyboard.  However, they still cater to two different crowds.  Tablets tend to be lighter and smaller since they’re designed to be really used with two thumbs or one hand.  This means there is less space for things like memory and processing power.  So a tablet would suite someone who’s constantly on the go and never to really has a home base.  Otherwise, the laptop still has the advantage and processing power and versatility.

The RAM has touched the wall

For the typical user 4GB of RAM is enough.  RAM stands for random access memory.  It’s essentially the amount of resources that your company has to do the tasks at hand.  Lots of deals in circulars advertise refurbished laptops with 2GB of RAM.  In this day and age, it’s not enough for a smooth running experience.

SSD is the way to go

SSD stands for solid state drive.  Unlike older hard drive technology, SSD has no moving parts.  This means that it lasts longer and is quicker.  Laptops with SSD tend to wake from sleep faster and have shorter boot up times.  The tradeoff is that they have less storage space.  However, with cloud storage being all the rage, 128GB of space should be plenty.

What about the processors?

I wrote this article under the assumption that the average small business owner uses their computer for excel, web browsing, and word processing.  Though if you business relies on photo editing or movie making, then a more powerful CPU or a dedicated graphics card would not go amiss.  However, the average user isn’t going to need the extra power or want the added cost.

Scratching the Surface

Microsoft recently announced the release of the ‘Surface’, a laptop-tablet hybrid this Summer.  The Surface will come out with two distinct versions: one will run Windows RT which is optimized for tablet features and battery life, the other model will run a full version of Windows 8.  It’s the software giant’s first major foray into the laptop market, but will it be a success? It depends what Microsoft’s motives are.  Is just a business tool, a pivot point in the industry, or is it something else entirely?  That, all depends on the features.

The Surface will boast a full sized USB 2.0 port. It’ll also have an micro SD card reader. However, the most talked about feature is the kickstand, which allows users to prop the screen up. The second most talked about feature is that the Surface will have a 16:9 aspect ratio on a 10.3” screen that will support full HD.  Now the big question, should I order one for my business?

Well, I was on your IT team, I would say, I don’t know.  There are too many missing details about the Surface, chief of which is price.  How much this piece of technology will set you back has not been released, nor has the internal hardware list.  But it does have a keyboard, which gives a huge usability leg up on the iPad.  One member of the Surface development team said that the touch keyboard allows users to type at 50 words a minute.  With more and more offices converting to laptops only, this tablet could be an easy take-on-the-go machine, especially since it’ll have the full blown Metro system.  The user interface is not for everyone.  Windows Eight has the Metro system which has a bunch of tiles that display information and icons.  If you take the time to configure them, you can have the all the information you want at a glance.  All-in-all, I can’t recommend it either way.