Selection of Laptops for Education

2006-01-10

Prepared by Ralph L. Vinciguerra
http://vinci.org/rlv

Disclaimer: This report represents the individual opinions of the author and should not be construed to be an official or complete comparison of laptops. The author has experience with similar equipment from a day-to-day perspective as a technologist.


Introduction

Recent advances in the quality and price of laptops now make them viable for student use in education, particularly at the primary and secondary levels. This analysis identifies three possible configurations of machines This is followed by a dated search for particular machines from a single popular vendor (Dell).

NOTE - The quotes listed in this analysis are from the Dell site when selecting the K12 section. Your own purchasing agent should be able to negotiate even better prices when purchasing many machines together, and perhaps even have a printer and a network hub included at a discount.

The selection considered was only the Dell "Latitude" models which are specifically targeted at businesses, which require durability, relibility, and longer product life cycles (slower to become obsolete, and components are more interchangable).

Identification of Solutions

Table 1 identifies the possible solutions with a short descriptions. See the following section for details on how features are addressed.

The "Durable" configuration would be best if ease of setup and breakdown, and smaller machines is considered important. These machines are designed for business travelers, and are thinner and have smaller screens in the interest of smaller size and lighter weight (half!).

The "inexpensive" configuration is a middle level machine, still very portable, but without spending of expensive extra features. A very typical choice.

The "Advanced" configuration is much faster, with a wide format high-definition screen, and an added a writable DVD drive. It's also heavier and larger.

Table 1 - Configurations
Configuration Description Cost
Durable A smaller more portable laptop that is thinner, with a smaller screen and has fewer internal devices in favor of convenience and durability. $2,229.57
Inexpensive A medium size laptop without special features, and with an optimal price. $1,809.50
Advanced A laptop with the best features to insure high performance and longest lifespan (from a performance perspective). $2,853.20

Common Features for all Systems

Certain minimum features are expected on all the systems:

Configuration Details


Table 2 - Durable Configuration
Date 1/10/200610:03 PM
Catalog Number 26 Retail RC959303
Latitude X1 Intel® Pentium® M Processor 733 (1.10GHz ULV) 12.1in WXGA Display X1733X - [ 221-7700 ]
Operating System Genuine Windows® XP Professional, SP2, with media XPPRO2 - [ 420-4790 ]
Memory 1.28GB DDR2 533MHz SDRAM, (256MB Integrated) 2 DIMMs 128G2D5 - [ 311-5436 ]
Hard Drives 60GB Hard Drive, 8MM, 4200RPM 60D - [ 341-2087 ]
Bundle Microsoft "! Office ® 2003 Student and Teacher Academic RW RA03ST - [ 410-0242 ]
Mouse Dell USB 2-Button Optical Mouse DUSB - [ 310-8574 ]
Module Bay (External) Devices D-Bay w/ 24X CD-RW/DVD w/ Sonic Digital Media and Cyberlink PowerDVD DBCMBO - [ 313-3293 ]
Bluetooth Dell Wireless Bluetooth Enabled BT - [ 430-1244 ]
Hardware Support Services Promo 3 Yr Limited Warranty plus 3 Yr NBD On-site Service and CompleteCare U3CC99 - [ 900-6232900-6600970-1748983-2207983-2217 ]
Gold Technical Support Gold Technical Support, Latitude, 3 Years GTS3WL - [ 461-3749902-4862 ]
File System NTFS File System for all Operating Systems NTFS - [ 420-3699 ]
Resource CD Resource CD - contains Diagnostics and Drivers RCD - [ 420-5194 ]
Notebook Accessories Kensington Microsaver Security Cable KENMSC - [ A0125156 ]
Security Software Norton Internet Security"! 2005 15 Month Subscription NIS15E - [ 410-0769 ]
AC Adapter 50W A/C Adapter 50AC - [ 310-6458 ]

Table 3 - Inexpensive Configuration
Date 1/10/200610:29 PM
Catalog Number 26 Retail RC959303
Latitude D510 - Pentium M Intel® Pentium® M Processor 740 (1.73GHz) w/ 14.1 XGA Display 51P174 - [ 221-9415 ]
Operating System Genuine Windows® XP Professional, SP2, with media XPPRO2 - [ 420-4790 ]
Memory 1.0GB DDR2 533MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS 1G2D - [ 311-3791 ]
Hard Drives 60GB Hard Drive, 9.5MM, 5400RPM 60D - [ 341-2203 ]
Bundle Microsoft "! Office ® 2003 Student and Teacher Academic RW RA03ST - [ 410-0242 ]
Mouse Dell USB 2-Button Optical Mouse DUSB - [ 310-8574 ]
Modem No Modem NM - [ 313-1534 ]
Module Bay Devices 24X CD-RW/DVD w/ Sonic Digital Media"! and Cyberlink PowerDVD"! 24XCMBO - [ 313-2546 ]
Bluetooth Dell Wireless® 350 Bluetooth Module BT350 - [ 430-1319 ]
Batteries 6 Cell Primary Battery 6C - [ 312-0189 ]
Hardware Support Service Promo 3 Yr Limited Warranty plus 3 Yr NBD On-site Service and CompleteCare U3CC99 - [ 900-6152902-2660970-1748983-2207983-2217 ]
Gold Technical Support Gold Technical Support, Latitude, 3 Years GTS3WL - [ 461-3749902-4862 ]
File System NTFS File System for all Operating Systems NTFS - [ 420-3699 ]
Resource CD Resource CD - contains Diagnostics and Drivers RCD - [ 420-5207 ]
Notebook Accessories Kensington Microsaver Security Cable KENMSC - [ A0125156 ]
Reference Guide Reference Guide REF - [ 310-6591 ]
AC Adapter 90W A/C Adapter 90AC - [ 312-0128 ]
Floppy Drive No Floppy Drive NFD - [ 340-8854 ]
Wireless LAN (802.11) Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200 802.11b/g WLAN miniPCI Card IPW22LF - [ 430-1411 ]

Table 4 - Advanced Configuration
Date 1/10/200610:44 PM
Catalog Number 26 Retail RC959303
Latitude D810 Intel® Pentium® M Processor 780 (2.26GHz) w/ATI RADEON X300 64MB D822X3 - [ 221-9342 ]
Operating Systems Genuine Windows® XP Professional, SP2, with media XPPRO2 - [ 420-4790 ]
Memory 1.0GB 533MHz, DDRII SDRAM, 2 DIMMS - Dual Channel 1G2D5 - [ 311-3791 ]
Hard Drives 60GB Hard Drive, 9.5MM, 7200RPM 60D72 - [ 341-1013 ]
Bundle Microsoft "! Office ® 2003 Student and Teacher Academic RW RA03ST - [ 410-0242 ]
Mouse Dell USB 2-Button Optical Mouse DUSB - [ 310-8574 ]
Modem No Modem NM - [ 313-1534 ]
Modular Bay Devices 8X DVD+/-RW w/ Sonic Digital Media"! and Cyberlink PowerDVD"! 8XDVDRW - [ 313-2972 ]
Battery 9-CELL PRIMARY BATTERY 9C - [ 310-5347 ]
Carrying Cases Nylon Deluxe Carrying Case NC - [ 310-5875 ]
Hardware Support Services Promo 3 Yr Limited Warranty plus 3 Yr NBD On-site Service and CompleteCare U3CC99 - [ 900-6232900-6600970-1748983-2207983-2217 ]
Gold Technical Support Gold Technical Support, Latitude, 3 Years GTS3WL - [ 461-3749902-4862 ]
File System NTFS File System NTFS - [ 420-3699 ]
Resource CD Resource CD - contains Diagnostics and Drivers RCD - [ 313-2617 ]
Notebook Accessories Kensington Microsaver Security Cable KENMSC - [ A0125156 ]
Security Software Norton Internet Security 2005 15 Month Subscription NIS15E - [ 410-0769 ]
Reference Guide Reference Guide REF - [ 310-5579 ]
AC Adapter 90W A/C Adapter 90AC - [ 310-4224 ]
Floppy Drive Options No Floppy Drive NFD - [ 340-8854 ]
LCDs 15.4 inch UltraSharp"! Wide Screen WUXGA LCD Panel 15U - [ 320-4230 ]
Wireless LAN (802.11) Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200 802.11b/g WLAN miniPCI Card IPW22LF - [ 430-1411 ]
Bluetooth Dell Wireless® 350 Bluetooth Module BT350 - [ 430-1128 ]

Extra Support Items

In addition to the laptops themselves these items are also relevant:

24-module notebook security cart - A safe way to tranport and lock up the laptops.
Manufacturer Part# D24CFR, Dell Part #: A0157981, $968.42

Wireless hub - Activated in the room where the laptops are in use to allow networking to the building internet, and to each other.
An example: NETGEAR WGR614 54Mbps Wireless Firewall Router, $54.95 from Dell.

Printer - Placed on the cart and served from the teacher's laptop, also on the cart, to the other systems connected to the wireless hub.
An example: HP OfficeJet Pro K550 Color Inkjet Printer, $159.99 from CompUSA.

Conclusions

The final resolution of which configuration to purchase is driven by the available resources and educator preferences. In addition, prices fluctuate and also can vary between suppliers and resellers. This analysis is primarily of value in the specification of the systems and the supporting items.


References

[dell] Dell Website http://dell.com

[ui] College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - "Dell Laptop Recommendations" http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/onetoone/dell.html


Ralph's Original Publications - 2008-07-09