What is the best laptop for small businesses?

14 Feb

The DIY Business Association’s first product review: Thumbs-up to the Dell V130

By Amy Schroeder

How many laptops does one person need?

Considering that I work from home, in a small-ish, closet-challenged Brooklyn apartment, the answer is probably one.

But I have two.

Though I nostalgically tend to hang onto things until they go out of style, I’ve been itching to shed a layer of laptop.

Enter Perfect-Timing Experience.

A Dell rep invited the DIY Business Association to test-drive a Dell Vostro V130—because the lightweight laptop is targeted to entrepreneurs and bloggers on the go.

“Of course,” I said. “What’s the catch?” When the Chicago-based rep explained that there is no catch and that all I needed to do was sign something saying that I would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I said, “I’m in!”

Cool Dell Lady over-nighted the computer, and I spent two weeks working on it from home, in coffee shops, and on the subway (my most focused writing environment). I’ll give scoop in just a second, but first…

Why I have two laptops…

My Mac iBook G4: When I published Venus Zine, I invested in a Mac-PC hybrid network of desktop computers, scanners, printers, backup systems, etc. In an attempt to avoid workaholic tendencies, I did the no-computer-at-home thing for a year, but I eventually gave in and bought a Mac iBook G4 for about $1,200. I loaded her up with about a thousand CDs, Adobe Creative Suite, and Office for Mac. Now the iBook is too slow to use for the Internet, but it serves its purpose for transferring music to my iPod and doing basic Photoshop stuff. I think of it as my external hard drive.

My Toshiba Satellite L505D-S5965: In 2009-2010, I worked as the site manager of inkpop.com, then a HarperTeen start-up project that’s kinda like American Idol for aspiring teen novelists. I worked from home during the site’s developmental stages, and the project’s alpha process required a PC (no Macs allowed!). I’m no longer working on inkpop.com, but I still use the Toshiba for the Internet, Word, and Excel. Because it’s slow, heavy and clunky, and likes to freeze, I think of it as my “cheap computer” (pricetag: $450) and e-mail machine. I can’t wait to retire it.

The Dell Vostro V130 with my personal assistant, Janis Joplin.

Dell Vostro V130 Review

So, what is the best laptop for creative entrepreneurs?

That is an excellent question that I don’t have a thoroughly researched answer to. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to engage in a serious laptop-off, save for a Netbook (perfect petite size and cheap price tag at $350-$450, but too slow for my info-processing needs) and the MacBook and MacBook Air (lovely and amazing, but too pricey with a starting price of $999), but I will continue to cruise more laptops, and I’ll give you an answer once I’ve figured it out.

Here’s what I can tell you: At 3.5 pounds, the Dell Vostro V130 is lightweight and sturdy with its metal case and sleek design. As for tech-y details, the Dell Vostro V130 rocks an Intel Core i3 380UM 1.33Hz processor (Core i5 processor is optional); Intel HM57 chipset; 4GB DDR3 RAM; 320GB hard disk.

In a nutshell, if you’re anything like me—I’m a writer, startup coach, and creative entrepreneur (i.e., I didn’t go to business school, and numbers are not my friend)—who’s often online and gathering and transferring a lot of information, the V130 is great, with a semi-investment price of about $900. My only criticism (other than that I prefer the Mac operating system to PCs’) is that the battery life could stand to be longer. 

So what’s my plan? I think I’m going to ditch the Toshiba and buy a Vostro V130. I’m going to keep the iBook for now for, you know, back-up.

Amy Schroeder, founder of the DIY Business Association, is one of those people who’s initially a bit intimidated about the latest technology, but once she gets into it, she really gets into it.

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