Finding the right hardware platform

Making sure you make the right decisions when it comes to hardware is no easy task for smaller businesses, as Jason Slater discovers.

When starting out in a small business getting the right combination of computer hardware is vital as a wrong step can lead to wasted time and additional costs - two major issues that are best avoided.

So what are our options when it comes to an all-in-one or laptop, a notebook, and possibly a netbook which, together, should provide the required computing power to get us started in our small enterprise?

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The office unit we are moving into already has a PC available for our use. However, it is a fixed Windows XP mini tower that isn't very practical when we're likely to be travelling regularly between, and working from, the office and home. With this in mind our evaluation saw us looking for just the right combination of computing equipment, which currently consists of three machines: an all-in-one (or possibly a laptop/desktop replacement), a notebook, and a netbook.

The all-in-one will run Windows 7 as its operating system, one of the Adobe graphics design studio packages - possibly Creative Suite 5 Web Premium - and Microsoft Visual Studio. The notebook will run Windows 7 and the accounting package Sage, Credit Pro and one or two other business applications together with Office 2010 for general office duties.

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The netbook will be loaded minimally so it can serve as a machine that can be picked up and used on the go. Windows 7 will be a sensible operating system for the netbook if the other two machines are also running the same operating system. The use of two primary machines should also provide a safety net in case one of the core machines fails.

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