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Crgky127
02-16-2008, 06:11 AM
I am not a fan of laptops, and have always had desktops. However I realize that if I want to make house calls, they can be very useful. So far I have a basic idea of what to look for, but because I new to house calls and I am used to having a desktop and drawers full of tools at my disposal, I need your wisdom on what is needed in the field.

I'm looking for as simple (and cheap :p) as I can get away with. This won't be my primary computer and doesn't need to be especially fast. I can always go external for things like floppy drive and wireless if need be. Fairly durable, but not too heavy (not always available together I know). Needs XP or at least able to dual boot with all XP drivers available. What do you suggest?

nonchalant
02-16-2008, 11:08 AM
Ive never found a need for a laptop in 8 years of making house calls. I carry everything on flash drive or CD.

Personally I'd use the money to advertise my business, but thats just my opinion..

Crgky127
02-16-2008, 05:59 PM
I was thinking mainly for downloading network drivers and hooking up HDs with a USB adapter for data backup, which is what I use a desktop for when benching. In these situations should I tell the client that I need to take their PC offsite?

nonchalant
02-16-2008, 06:18 PM
I guess it depends on how you intend to work.

If your going to use your laptop to backup you will run the risk of copying viruses from it to the laptop (assuming this is what you intend).

As a tool for d/l information/drivers off the net well yea I guess it could come in handy for that but the other option is the customer sometimes has the driver cd's handy and you can carry a lot of the common drivers yourself.

Lastly, though on occasion it can be beneficial and timely to fix a problem on-site on many occasions its not. The other problem is you may come across a problem on site where you need to end up taking the PC away anyway duplicating work. In this case you will end up having to charge the customer more than it would have done to cover the extra time or fore go charging for your time.

When I first started off in this line of work I use to almost always try and fix a problem on-site. Now I always try and take the PC away (unless of course Im dealing with a connectivity issue). The benefits of this will become apparent to you as you gain more experience in this work.

Simmy
02-16-2008, 06:42 PM
I find my laptop extremely useful for networking problems. All I have to do is connect my laptop wirelessly or with a cable, knowing that it works fine. It instantly tells me if the problem is with the modem/router or the customers PC. The same applies to other connections like USB devices/Monitor problems.

IMO it's worth getting a laptop, especially considering Dell are selling them for sub 300!

generalj
02-16-2008, 10:28 PM
I agree with Simmy, you can immediately eliminate a lot of problems if you bring a known working laptop to the sitie with you. Then at lunch you can jump on it to web cam with your wifey in germany :) lol. Its just nice to have. You can also have it to show the user what is wrong. Say their nic is broke and they don't want to believe you. All you do is say see, don't work, then hook it up to yours and say see it works. Well anyways its more then that but you get the idea.

I actually have a hp tablet pc and I have ubuntu linux running on it. I have it tweaked out really nice with desktop effect and even a them that looks just like vista, I use this to show customers and try and convert them to linux users. Also I use it to web into my CRM software when I am off site so I can update and track tickets etc.

WireComputers
02-17-2008, 12:15 AM
I've always found my laptop invaluable when working on connectivity faults, as mentioned above, as it gives me an instant diagnosis as to where the problem lies - PC, cabling or network hardware (modem, router etc.)

I currently use a Toughbook, which is about 4 years old and can withstand almost anything that I throw at it, or it at. :rolleyes::D

Bryce W
02-17-2008, 02:57 AM
I use my laptop mostly for connectivity issues onsite as well. God I hate that message "look online for a network card driver?" since I cant get online unless I have a network driver.
My laptop is an old 12 inch Dell laptop that a client gave me after they brought a top-of-the-line laptop. Its only an old P3 550 with 250mb RAM but with some good ol' computer technician tweaks it runs great :)

Oh, I also bring the laptop along to jobs where there is a potential hardware fault. Ive used it a few times to look up a BSOD error that I didnt know the meaning of.

Crgky127
02-17-2008, 04:32 AM
So basically any ole thing (basics ie ethernet, VGA, few USB, optical drive, bare minimum speed wise) will do?

nonchalant
02-17-2008, 06:37 AM
So basically any ole thing (basics ie ethernet, VGA, few USB, optical drive, bare minimum speed wise) will do?
Thats about all I carry and some software. Never found the use for a laptop yet. In fact I expect to be given a new one in the near future and have already promised it to a family member.
And potential modem/router problems can be easily diagnosed by basic troubleshooting or connecting a spare modem that I carry with me.

tartis
02-17-2008, 03:08 PM
I always carry my laptop on-site. It is good for network and broadband issues, and I also use it if someone wants to pay me using a credit card. I have a Sprint data card that comes in handy for downloading drivers.

I agree with nonchalant that taking a PC off-site can be a good idea. I charge a lower hourly fee for off-site service, but I also charge a $35 pickup and drop-off fee. Taking the unit off-site allows for me to work on two or more PC's at the same time back in my shop.

greggh
02-17-2008, 04:16 PM
I always bring a laptop. If you need to test connection problems (their computer wont connect, yours will, its not the router,) it really speeds that up. If you want to backup data and their system is completely shot. Downloading network drivers, and a hundred other things.

Bringing a laptop is a very smart thing to do. You can definitely work without one. But it is a huge help to have one.

generalj
02-18-2008, 08:01 AM
I just wanted to also state that it can coe in handy of you need to scan for viruses. The users computer is just so clogged with junk and is old you can throw their hard drive into an enclosure or use a cable and have your virus scanner scan it to get some speed to it.

Also you can use it as a selling point if you have a decent one. I dual boot mine with ubuntu so I can show customers that they can do all they want on it and its a free OS.

geekhelp4u
02-19-2008, 02:29 AM
I've always found my laptop invaluable when working on connectivity faults, as mentioned above, as it gives me an instant diagnosis as to where the problem lies - PC, cabling or network hardware (modem, router etc.)

I currently use a Toughbook, which is about 4 years old and can withstand almost anything that I throw at it, or it at. :rolleyes::D

Same with me.. I use a Panasonic Toughbook CF-51 that I created from 4 broken CF-51's in Iraq (yea.. they are not so tough when the get shot or hit by a mortar). One reason is so I can show a client how software they are curios about works before I install it on their machines. I also agree with the downloading drivers for the specific machine. I always keep a copy of every driver I download to an external drive, but having instant Internet connection when you don't have the EXACT driver you are looking for is great! Usually, their computer does not work, but their Internet works fine for downloading needs... for the few that have no Internet or using the amazing speeds of dial up, i use the verizon wireless USB broadband. average download speeds of 600 Kbps 1.4 Mbps and average upload speeds of 500 Kbps 800 Kbps... not the greatest speeds, but hey, in the middle of nowhere or when you have no Internet it rocks! (They limit your data transfer to 5GB a month - $59.99)