Stories from my Past: Laptops are a luxury

I worked at one company where many of the executives had laptops. As an IT person in almost every company, you also get a laptop. I think the idea is that with a laptop you can work from home if necessary and fix any problem that happens. So it surprised me when I started and I received a desktop.

I asked my manager why I received a desktop instead of a laptop. Didn’t they want me to fix things from home? His answer surprised me. He said “Well executives have laptops, and laptops are a luxury not a necessity.”

Stories from my Past: Laptops are a luxuryThat answer didn’t make sense to me than and it still doesn’t. If the network is down, or someone needs help, not having your IT staff have a computer at home doesn’t help anyone. Even the cheapest laptop will do the job.

Why am I bringing this up now? I find it interesting that the perception of laptops has changed over the years. Laptops used to be just for the VIPS in a company and then slowly they started filtering down to the common man. Now most companies prefer giving someone a laptop so that they will work when they aren’t in the office. I have seen this first hand. With a laptop people don’t have an excuse not to work from home, so it becomes easily justifiable. Plus with the ridiculous low-cost of laptops, the argument can be made that they are better than desktops anyway.

Yes, yes, desktops are cheaper than laptops. The price isn’t really worth it however. When you have a laptop you have freedom to make sales, travel and to have a life. I predict that desktops will go away. As components get cheaper and easier, there just won’t be any compelling reason to have a stationary computer. For example, laptops now are coming standard without any fans and with really long battery life. For most people laptops are not a compromise of a desktop anymore. They can do everything a desktop can and more. So why would you want to be tied to a desk to use one?

I think this is also going to happen because of millennials. They care about experiences and quality of life, and demand things like standing desks and so on. I think that laptops will be driven by them, and only older people will not care and their conception of a computer means being tied to a desk. I think the change to laptops is as much psychological as technological.

Most people who have freedom with a laptop never want to be tied to a desktop again. Now this isn’t an economic choice, but a personal one.

Reasons to choose either cellular or Wi-Fi exclusively

Many business people like having both cellular and Wi-Fi connections for their devices. If they have multiple devices like an iPad, iPhone or laptop it can be helpful if they also have a cellular connection. It allows Internet connectivity even if no Wi-Fi is available. So why should I suggest that you make a choice between them?

Reasons to choose either cellular or Wi-Fi exclusively

  1. Cellular connections are slow and expensive. The cost of using just cellular are very high compared to the flat rate of Wi-Fi connections. It can be very expensive to unknowingly download files, update, attachments and go over your cellular data limit. It requires you to think of what connection you are using while you are using your device, and to remember or estimate how much you have used. Most people don’t have the skills or desire to do that, so in most business this tends to have expensive data costs that could have been avoided by just using Wi-Fi.
  2. Reasons to choose either cellular or Wi-Fi exclusivelyChoosing what connection you are using places an unnecessary burden on the average person. I do not pay for cellular data. I have a Wi-Fi at home and one wherever I work, and that is where I download updates or whatever I need. If I get email I have limited the download size in the settings so that I avoid downloading huge attachments. On an iPhone, without Office365 most people don’t work with files anyway so it is wasted and time-consuming.
  3. By having both you are paying for capacity you aren’t using. So for most people who don’t travel, you are paying double for capacity you don’t use. If you download most of your stuff by Wi-Fi, then the very small free amount of data included is enough. My plan for example has a 1 GB of data, and that is fine for my use. I download things on Wi-Fi which is much faster than cellular, and then I don’t have to pay extra for a slow download.
  4. Cellular is overused and overpriced. It’s cool to have wireless connection to data, I get that. However you are really paying for this premium and it isn’t necessary for the majority of people. The only people who I can really justify paying for cellular internet access are people who travel the majority of the time. However most of us do not travel, which means that Wi-Fi is clearly the better choice.
  5. Security is overlooked on cellular and a huge risk. You may have read about stingrays which are used by police and FBI and which copy and look into the data you send over cellular connections. Wi-Fi offers more protection since it generally is under the control of you or your company. If you deal with sensitive matters, Wi-Fi is safer, and the safest of course is a wired connection.

I get it, cellular is cool. It is neat to have Internet anywhere. However you give up a lot in doing so. You give up security, time, money, ease of use. Consider using one or the other, and make your life easier.