In the new normal, everything is up for review. When we think about personal computing, most of us would instinctively choose the mobile option. But is this the best choice for all environments?

By Xperien IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) expert Bridgette Vermaak

Let us look at the work-from-home (WFH) scenario that has been suddenly forced upon us. When choosing a WFH computer, the influencing factors are cost, productivity and believe it or not – aesthetics. Taking a deeper look into the factors that should be considered in the home office and home schooling environment.

WFH is an attempt to replicate many office functions but there are many constraints. Most offices have spaces designed for focus and work execution but when it comes to the home, you are less likely to be confined to an ‘exclusive space’ that is usually required for efficient work productivity.

The reality is usually a compromise, resulting in a multifunctional space. After all, it is a home. Literally speaking, the home office is multifunctional and this presents its own challenges. The shortcomings of the home office could be more suited to the deployment of a desktop computer, even though it is less mobile than a laptop.

A common reality of this remote working is the interference of from kids and pets. In this shared environment, the likelihood of mishaps like messing on a keyboard are much more common. This damage could require a new keyboard that costs around R150 and is available at the local computer shop or supermarket.

However, the same damage to a laptop could cost around four times that price and it is unlikely to be in stock. This means you could wait weeks for your replacement keyboard. This trend is the norm for most replacement parts, making overall maintenance and upgrading far easier and cheaper for desktops than it is for laptops.

When it comes to general wear and tear, the desktop is more robust and its immobility means lower risk of unforeseen knocks which could easily damage the hard drive. More importantly, desktops offer better protection of your valuable data and are less prone to theft, resulting in lower insurance premiums. Comparatively, laptops can easily be dropped and they are more susceptible to other forms of risk associated with mobility.

The desktop is a workhorse with superior power and some even have dual power supplies. This extra power will allow you to attach a plethora of external devices i.e. speakers, biometric pad, scanner, external hard drive or joystick. The list is endless and all without the need for a docking station or USB Hub. You can also add specialist equipment via the on-board serial bus e.g. cash register. This would require an I/O port that is not available on most laptops.

When it comes to upgrading the desktop, its design offers many advantages like ease-of-use, a variety of interchangeable components including the processor and the graphics card that is not upgradable on laptops.

The biggest benefit of purchasing a desktop as opposed to a laptop is the cost. A desktop is 50% cheaper than a comparable laptop. Just before lockdown, one of the high street banks was faced with the challenge of providing its workforce with WFH equipment. The decision was to relocate office desktops to the home.

The benefits of a desktop versus a laptop for the home working environment:

* Desktops cost half the price of a comparable laptop;

* Desktops offer lower risk of damage and theft;

* Desktops are cheaper to repair, maintain and to upgrade components;

* Desktops offer superior power – allowing multiple storage and USB devices;

* Desktops cost less to insure;

* Desktops are more robust and can handle heat better;

* Desktops offer better sound quality; and

* Desktops offer better ergonomic options (mouse, keyboard and monitor).

The best way to increase productivity when working from home is to acquire the best high performance components that you interact with the most, such as keyboard, display and mouse.