I’m often asked to make a laptop recommendation for drive-by read collection. There are a thousand possible right answers, but it sure can hurt if you get burned by a bad choice. Time lost to equipment failure is costly and really frustrating. I’ve been there.
A mobile reading system large amounts of moving data and requires several components to perform in concert. All the parts of the system need do their respective jobs while operating in a moving, bouncing environment where they encounter dust, temperature variance, uneven power supply, coffee, and doughnuts. The nerve center that orchestrates all this activity it the laptop.
Mobile reading systems have a tall task to accomplish. It is smart to give them every advantage we can to achieve the most stable read-collection performance possible. So even thought the laptop is just one component, you want to choose one that is equal to the task.
Here are the factors on which I base my laptop recommendations:
1) Processor speed: Recommendations for minimum speeds vary by manufacturer and read software. Some recommendations start as low 1.2 GHz , while others require at least 2.5 GHz. The single most common problem I see drive-by customers encounter are episodes where the program locks up and won’t close properly. That can corrupt the database and require tech support to get back in service. A faster processor decreases the likelihood that a processing lag will make the program lock up and crash. On the systems I support most frequently, I would feel comfortable with a speed of 3 GHz or better.
2) Disk Drive: A hard disk drive (HDD) is made of moving, mechanical parts. Remember jogging with a Discman? I’m old enough to remember how “well” that worked. Everything became much more stable when we graduated to M players and eventually, smartphones. Apply the same concept here. No matter how careful you are, you will encounter bumps and jostling. Avoid the HDD, buy a solid-state drive (SDD).
3) RAM: This one is simple. Refer to r mobile reading system’s published requirements and double the minimum recommended RAM. You’ll have plenty of headroom and can focus on driving safely.
4) USB ports: I can assure you, at least one of your ports will eventually fail so make sure you have extras. Some mobile reading systems require a USB port for the transceiver, a second for the removable drive, a third for the GPS receiver, and the Read Collector may want to have a fourth available to keep a phone charged. USB splitters are often incompatible and add more potential failure points (at best), so the meter I work with discourage using them. This is not a wise place to cut costs. Make sure you have extra USB’s and you’ll thank me later.
If you apply these suggestions, you should end up with good fit for your read system. Don’t install unnecessary programs. You’ll do just fine.
I hope this helps you make a good choice and avoid some future heartache.
- By Reed Sutter