By Thomas Noble
Staff reporter

As with every year, each freshman student receives a laptop to help with their studies. Juniors also get a new laptop to replace the older ones that are now outdated.

I sat down with Darin R. Hart, Laptop Program & Support Services Manager, to speak about the new laptops, and how they compare to the older models

TN: How do you decide on what model of laptop

DH: Part of the laptop program, is that it builds on the previous years. We are constantly trying to get one step ahead with some improvement from the previous year. I came into the program in 2005, so I did not set the initial bar, but I have been trying to move it forward. That’s basically what we are going with. I do send out, in the past, requests for new information from students, faculty and staff, what things they find most useful in a laptop; what are the most appealing features. Unfortunately I don’t usually get good feedback on that, so I usually have to guess, “What do I think is good?”, and from what I hear at the (Help) counter. There is a whole year of information and feedback that goes into what we end up with.

TN: How did you find this current model
DH: We have had a long relationship with Dell. Last year, we had gone with Toshiba due to some changes in Dell. Dell came back to us and said, “Hey, sorry. What can we do?” I do like the Dell Latitudes. They are a sturdy machine. They do well in our environment; they are well designed and they hold up pretty good.

TN: This particular model, was it the one that Dell suggested? Do you look through the different models?

DH: We look through the different models and the different specifications. The Latitude series is the business class machine. It is designed for heavy usage, lot of mobility. The Inspiron is more of a consumer line although it may look prettier it does not hold up as well. If anyone remembers our purple studios, going with the consumer line is probably not a good idea because it is not designed for the abuse they get put on them.

TN: Why did you leave to Toshiba and why did you return to Dell?

DH: Last year is the first year in nine years we stepped away from Dell. Part of that was the customer service we were getting from Dell. They were not wanting to meet our price. Lot of economic situations where they said, “No, we cannot give you a discount.”  Toshiba was able to give us a discount. There were issues on the backside, like I mentioned customer service, Dell was just falling through.  Toshiba made a better pitch, they have a good machines spec. It will different than what we had before but it was a good machine.   Afterwards, we found out about the engineering design issue that caused all this screen issues with the Toshiba laptops. This year going back to Dell, Dell contacted us and said, “Hey, sorry.” Things dropped through the cracks and they had us classified in the wrong category for business support. They had us up with the data centers and big schools because we buy so much.  That is classified at that level. We should have actually been in a different level, it was a business error on the side of one of their sales people who is no longer with them, now we have been classified correctly we have another account representative.  We’re doing much better service from them. We were able to get a better deal after working with them.

TN: Are the any specific new features with this laptop as oppressed to last years?

DH: The big difference between the Toshibas and the Dells this year is the backlit keyboard. The dells have the backlit keyboard is which is something that Toshiba does not offer on any laptops. That was one of the biggest things people complained about not having was the backlit keyboard. Aside from that there is a dedicated graphics card. The Toshibas were an integrated graphics card.

TN: Are these computers using the newest processors?

DH: The processors are not the ivy bridge, the newest third generation. Thoughts were in the model that was released right after these. So we are not on the bleeding edge but we are just one generation back in terms of processors.

TN: Are these the same processors that were in the Toshibas?

DH: No. We always try to step the processors, they may be the same generation but they have a better speed or something.

TN: Have there been any major issues you’re been seen with these laptops?  I know it’s early on but have you seen any complaints yet?

DH: I haven’t seen any issues with these machines coming back; then again they’ve only been out three weeks. We have had one DOA LCD screen, (with) one line on it. It came out of the bag like that. We had one hard drive (problem). Out of 300 some of machines is not unheard of.

TN: That’s very good.  Do you have any standards when you look for laptops, for instance, I know most always they have a 17 inch screen, are there any other requirements for the laptops you look at?

DH: Screen real estate is important; it has to have that 15.6 ratio. That is what the last several have had. There are several things that go into consideration, like the weight. I’m not concerned about the weight of the laptop but some people want the really light net books. They want something that compares to the Mac Air stuff, and I am like, “Ugh, it’s not going to happen.”

TN: So is weight something you look into?

DH: It’s something that has been brought up several times. Then again, I’m a big guy, I don’t care about if I am carrying a 5 pound laptop, a 4 pound laptop or a 6 pound laptop. I don’t care; I have got it in a bag slung over my shoulder. It’s no big deal. Other people, they are very concerned about that weight. They want the smaller net book they want a smaller screen, because they’re using something else for whenever their particular purpose is. What I have to do is find a machine that is a balance between everyone’s needs. I need to find a machine that will fit 80% of someone’s particular needs.

Tyler Harrell, biology junior, is enjoying her new laptop, Harrell said: “It’s nice, after having a laptop for two years; it kind of gets broken down. It’s nice to have the newer one, the new layout works nice. Harrell also said that she found the battery lasts longer, and all though the laptop is very similar to here previous one it seems to be nicer. “They were very helpful. They even transferred my iTunes.”

Christopher Paddock, mathematics junior, also said pros of trading the laptop was easy. “It was really nice just being able to hand the laptop over and everything was transferred, it took about a day, it was really easy,” Paddock said. “I like the idea of the laptop, it’s really nice. It makes it easier that everyone has the same laptop, with the same programing and being connected to the same database as the teachers.”

Thomas Noble is a freshman majoring in communication. You may email him at Thoms.Noble@sckans.edu.