Contrary to Ray's experience we are finding that the portable labs are now
used MORE than many of our desktops. Clearly the lifespan of a notebook is
lower for a variety of reasons, but we have not found that they require any
more support time. We are on year 4 with a dozen Compaq Evo notebooks -
first year without warranties. Both Compaq and HP "business class" machines
come with 3-year warranty, and we chipped in a little bit for accidental
damage. Body count on 14 machines for the duration of the warranty period
was 1 motherboard, 1 trackpad and 2 HD, which were replaced/repaired
immediately. No accidents (knock knock). In my mind a low-cost warranty
spread over a 3-year payment is worthwhile if only to get prompt service and
repair parts. For us it would be hard to pay for unexpected expensive
repairs (motherboard, LCD, etc.) and I don't want machines out of
circulation waiting for parts or $$ to buy them.

As for batteries, we are just now starting to replace them after 3 years -
they get replaced when they can no longer last for two class periods (90
min). Many still have 75% of original battery life (which was about 4
hours), but some of those were sitting on desks constantly plugged in for
the first couple of years and it took a year or more before the cart really
got heavily used. I have purchased Total Micro batteries through CDWG, and
they are OEM (HP branded) at a good price. So far so good, and also great
service direct from the manufacturer (we had one DOA).

One thing we have done is to make sure that batteries are properly
"conditioned" when we get them and occasionally during the year. Anybody
want to take a shot at whether or not this really makes a difference?

Eric Hall
Technology Coordinator
Waterbury/Duxbury Schools
Washington West Supervisory Union
Waterbury, VT
(802) 244-6100

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> been out sick, here are some grouped replies
> I am not sure that 'cart' laptop are necessarily more work than desktops.
> And I would never question the #s that Tommy has rolled on costs (Tom, just
> support costs or total everything costs?) but here are some thoughts ...
> They to tend to be slower, and locked up (slow to get to) but they also tend
> to be used less. I think there is a correlation between volume of use and
> failure (software or hardware) so, given that laptops are used less, I have
> seen that they break down less, and otherwise have less maintenance. I have
> also on occasion been able to take a laptop with me to work on (on another
> project, home, into a meeting) not so easy with a 50# tower. The laptops are
> generally also treated better, and have better supervision, so kids try and
> destroy them less.
> I can fit a laptop cart in my office, I can then work on all 16 of them in
> that 
> space. Having them all in proximity saves time with maintenance. I would not
> try to stuff 16 desktops in here!
> Another way I have saved time it to drag the laptops to a standalone lab.
> While the standalones are rebooting or scanning, etc. Boot up the laptops.
> Helps soak up some of that idle time.
> We have gateways that are 5 years old, some HPs that are 4 and 3. Each of
> them still get 95% of their original battery life.
> Battery on my 1 year old bottom of the line dell laptop is maybe 66% of
> original runtime.
> Extended warranties are useless unless you need them. Catch 22, so we skip
> them and hope to avoid the lemons.
> We have had 2 laptops dropped from waist height and survive 100%. No other
> known/reported issues here ...
>> lifespan vs. flexibility
> laptops are by their nature compromised machines and will not last as long as
> a same cost desktop. Slower proc. less RAM to start with.
> Some of our teachers LOVE taking their laptops home, others leave them
> chained to their desk, batteries out for months at a time  ...
> I love our wireless printer ...
> 200 computers 400 students 80 faculty k-12, k6 sixteen laptop cart, 7-12
> fourteen laptop cart.
> 1 FTE me, official title is tech & integration support. 30% of my time is
> earmarked for integration. I do servers, desktops, firewall, filtering, email
> virus/spam, buyer, hoarder/disposer of junk, dealer of ink. Heavy on the
> doing-
> more-with-less lately and a choking dose of find a cheaper solution ...
> Hope all are well.