Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?

Subject: Telecommuters: laptop or desktop?
From: Jeffrey Osier-Mixon <jefro -at- mcn -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 00:04:32 -0700

Question for telecommuters, particularly contractors who visit customer
sites on occasion---do you use/prefer a desktop machine or a laptop with
docking station?

After being laid off recently, I am gearing up for contracting and
buying a computer for the first time since 1996. I have been a
full-time telecommuter for three years and I have used both types of
systems, but I have been spoiled by two years of full-time telecommuting
as an employee---I only travelled once every few months, didn't need a
machine when I did, and for the past year have not travelled at all.

I have gotten quite used to a nice big comfy (company-provided) desktop,
being able to expand whenever I wanted, not having hardware-related
compatibility issues, etc. I much prefer a desktop workstation to a
laptop in a dock. But desktop machines are hard to lug to a customer
site for half a day, while taking a laptop is easy.

My favorite option, of course, is a solid desktop machine at home
attached to all of the peripherals I have accumulated, and a desktop (or
tablet PC, whee) to take to customer sites, but I don't know if I can
afford both. Would I look like a total non-technical weenie showing up
at a customer site for a deeply technical contract without a laptop?
Would I look like even more of a weenie if I miss a deadline because my
laptop decides to disagree with my monitor after a few months of wedded
bliss? (It has happened---turned out to be a shorted connector in the

Extra question: for those who buy or build their own equipment, would
you recommend I go out and spend for a pre-built (Dell or similar and
bask in the warranty), or save at least 50% by building my own? This
obviously applies to desktops only.



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