How to Choose Field Laptops

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Field laptops must perform different functions than their office counterparts.

April 01, 2000

Field laptops must perform different functions than their office counterparts. Not only are the computers exposed to jobsite dust, but they also may sustain bumps and bruises along the way, too. Matt Plaskoff, owner of Matt Plaskoff Construction, describes what he looks for in field computers.


  • Buy brand names. Plaskoff has used off-brand computers and concedes that some are good. Yet less expensive models often lack support, which is critical to field machines that take a lot of abuse.

  • Select a screen carefully. Conditions in the field are never optimal. It could be cloudy one minute and sunny the next. Information on screen needs to be visible under a variety of conditions. In addition, several people may need to view information at one time, which necessitates a screen that can be viewed from any angle.

  • The need for speed. The speed of your laptop depends entirely on the software programs you’re running in the field.

  • Memory, forget about it. Now that more remodelers are storing important job information on the Internet, the company’s Intranet, or backing up on tape, less memory is required.

  • Make sure there’s a modem. An internal modem that can connect via cell phone is a necessary feature, especially if your company works off the Internet or an Intranet. Many worksites don’t have landlines available, and you never know when you’ll need to dial in.
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