Competition for monitors and webcams has been fierce for equipping staff for work from home. Whether it’s for immediate needs or for your ongoing Business Continuity Plans for natural disasters and unexpected events, here’s some advice for equipping staff for home:
Find out what each staff member needs
The perfect home office setup resembles your office workstation, but some do not have that luxury. If working from hotel rooms, studio apartments, or crowded households, there may be no room for things like desktop monitors. Some staff may have far superior office setups at home than anything you can offer. You can save money and reduce wastage by sourcing only what your team needs.
The home office owner: Dual Display setups
For staff with a work-issued laptop or tablet and dedicated home office, a dual-display setup with adjustable stands is preferable. A docking station may be the only way to connect dual-displays to their laptop, and it can also connect their peripherals with a single cable to reduce clutter. The user can leave their laptop open as a third display or close it. If closed, the user may need a webcam for meetings and calls, plus a headset with microphone.
The full house: Single monitor setup
For staff without their own home office, a single monitor setup may suit. Choose a large, higher resolution monitor to allow the user to put multiple documents on screen at the same time. A high-lift stand allows the monitor to sit above the laptop screen for a vertical dual-display setup. These users are less likely to require a docking station or webcam, but a good quality headset with microphone is needed for meetings and calls in noisy homes.
The single urbanite: Portable monitor setup
For staff who need a second screen but no desk, consider a 14-inch portable display to work side-by-side with the user’s laptop screen, even on a sofa. Both Lenovo and HP provide models that connect via USB-C. For these users, the laptop webcam is ready for meetings and calls.
Beware the martyr
Employees who ‘do not need anything’ may want to do their employer a favour. If in doubt, check what their role requires. If they are working in a compromised environment or missing the tools they need for their job, this will affect productivity and morale.
Check compatibility with your supplier
When matching laptops or tablets with docking stations and monitors, there will be incompatibilities. The laptop and dock need to be able to connect and output to the preferred monitors at their native resolutions without issues. When we source these, we check the laptop models your staff are using.
Even in new docks and laptops, there are limits on maximum monitor resolution based on display connectors, number of monitors connected, and whether the user is also using their laptop display.
Reduce complexity for self-setup at home
Devices that require less assembly, fewer plugs and less software will be the easiest for staff to set up at home. We’ve been able to reduce workloads for IT teams and help desks while increasing user satisfaction by delivering equipment direct to employees’ homes, providing self-setup guides and using our software management services team to deploy drivers to the users’ devices remotely.
Get help and advice on Work From Home Solutions
Speak to your account manager or Contact Us for more information and pricing.
We’re seeing teams seeking the right docking stations to suit their users’ computers and monitors. Incompatibilities can range from wake-from-sleep issues, to incorrect monitor resolutions and in some cases, complete incompatibility.
Thunderbolt 3 docks
For laptops or tablets with a USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 port. Greatest support for high resolution displays (QHD, 2K and 4K) without lag or distortion and can typically charge the laptop while connecting peripherals and monitors via a single USB-C Thunderbolt 3 cable.
Near-universal support for modern laptops and tablets with USB-C to connect peripherals and monitors while typically charging the laptop via a single USB-C cable.
USB-A or USB- 3.0 docks
Near-universal support for older laptops and tablets equipped with rectangular USB ports to connect peripherals and monitors. Support for high resolution monitors and video is reduced relative to Thunderbolt 3. Not able to charge laptop when connected.
Less common due to improvements in dock technology, port replicators that laptops are ‘clicked’ into and vendor-exclusive side-docks have their own custom specifications. We can test to ensure compatibility with your preferred monitor setups and inputs.
For staff using laptops or tablets with few USB ports who need to connect multiple peripherals, including a mouse, keyboard, printers and scanner but no monitor. In general, hubs do not charge the laptop. If connecting devices that require USB power to run, including portable printers without their own power adapter, a hub with its own power supply is recommended.
What about Docking Monitors?
There are several types of Docking Monitor on the market too. These can have the benefit of further reducing cable clutter through using a single cable to connect your laptop to accessories, power, monitors and network (depending on model).
Want to get advice on choosing the right dock?
Talk to your account manager or Contact Us for more information and pricing.
For staff equipped with a laptop or tablet, replicating the workplace desk setups allow them to complete tasks with the greatest efficiency. This is useful when looking to provide safe workplaces for remote workers.
Dual monitor setups
Typical workplace setups use a dual monitor configuration for maximum productivity. For laptop and tablet users, the user might also use their device’s screen at the same time. We typically recommend the following minimum specification for monitors in a Dual Display setup:
Mismatched monitors exhibit different colour and contrast, display content at different sizes and be difficult to position side-by-side at the same angle and height. This can create eye and neck strain and increases the complexity of connecting multiple monitors to one laptop.
IPS or VA display technology
Older TN monitors have poorer viewing angles which distort colour and contrast when viewed off-centre. This is noticeable when used in a dual-display setup with monitors placed at opposing angles. IPS and VA monitors address this, which reduces eyestrain.
Adjustable height and angle
The top of the monitor should match the user’s eye-level to reduce neck strain. Monitors with fixed stands are typically lower than this. The user should be able to tilt the display to account for glare and optimise the viewing angle of the screen.
Resolution and size
For dual display monitors, we typically supply two Full HD 1920x1080 resolution monitors. This is supported by most modern laptops and docking stations while matching the internal display of a modern business laptop to reduce potential scaling issues in Windows 10. The optimum size for this display in a dual screen setup is 24 inches.
Higher resolutions up to QHD 2560x1440 for larger monitors can be supported by new laptops but may require testing. Docking stations should be checked for compatibility with monitors above Full HD resolution.
4K monitors will require performance laptops and docking stations. Monitors larger than 32 inches may cause neck or back strain in a dual-display setup.
Three monitor setups
Check with your supplier for a combination of laptop, dock and monitors for three monitor setups. We recommend a resolution of Full HD for these setups at 24 inches. Higher resolutions and monitor counts may require a laptop with a dedicated dedicated graphics controller.
Single monitor setups
We recommend a 27 inch or larger monitor depending on space available. To display more than one document or app on screen at the same time, consider a 2K / QHD (2560x1440) or higher resolution.
For 4K, check that the laptop can support 4K 60Hz or greater for smoother motion on screen.
Get advice about compatibility and availability for your team.
Speak to your Account Manager or Contact Us for advice, pricing and availability.
Selected monitors provide docking capability. Peripherals including keyboard, mouse and sometimes LAN are connected to the monitor. All are connected to the user’s laptop or tablet with a single cable.
USB-C Docking monitors
Can typically charge the user’s laptop and connect the monitor and peripherals via a single USB-C cable. If needed for a dual monitor setup, we check the monitor supports daisy-chaining so both monitors can be connected via the same USB-C cable.
Thunderbolt 3 Docking monitors
These monitors generally provide similar capability to the USB-C monitors with the benefit of greater bandwidth to eliminate lag or distortion for users working with video and high resolution (2K, QHD and 4K) monitors.
USB-A or USB 3.0 Docking monitors
For older laptops without USB-C ports. Allows you to connect the monitor and peripherals using a single USB 3.0 cable. Unlike USB-C docks, a separate charging cable needs to be used to power your laptop. If a second monitor is used, it will typically need to be plugged directly into the laptop.
Get help choosing the right models.
Speak to your Account Manager or Contact Us for information, pricing and availability.
The new device is considerably sleeker, lighter and more attractive, with more changes under the hood.
With a single model available now, the display has changed from a 55 Full HD or 85 inch 4K display to a 50 inch 4K display in the Hub 2s.
The shape of the screen has changed from the widescreen 16:9 format typically used by TVs to the taller 3:2 aspect ratio used by other Surface devices. For Surface users, that means no more black bars on either side of the image when projecting. For other devices with widescreen displays, expect to see small bars top and bottom.
Unlike the early promo videos, the Surface Hub 2s is designed for landscape use. There will be a further model coming soon that supports the portrait to landscape screen swivel.
The device now uses a single 4K camera in place of the earlier model's twin 1080p camera setup (which switched between cameras based on where the Surface Hub Whiteboard user was standing). Given the camera is used more often for video calling over Whiteboard use, we see a single high quality camera as a useful improvement.
The 50 inch Surface Hub 2s (above) weighs 28kg versus the original 55 inch at 48kg (below). This makes installation much easier, while enabling greater mobility with the optional stand. The original 85 inch version weighs in at a fairly staggering 127kg, excluding stand.
New optional stand
A new optional Surface Roam stand has been designed by Steelcase.
Weighing in at a total of 57kg, the Surface Hub 2s + Steelcase Roam is much lighter than the original 100kg 55 inch Surface Hub + Microsoft Rolling Stand. One person should be able to move the Surface Hub 2s without problems where previously a team effort was required.
New battery option
If optioned with the APC Charge battery, the Hub 2s can be unplugged and moved between rooms without powering down or closing apps - good for teams and projects in modern workplaces. The APC Charge can power the device for around 100 minutes, so we recommend plugging-in to a wall socket for long sessions.
By comparison, the first generation models required powering off before moving.
How does it measure up?
We regard these changes, along with the lower price as significant improvements.
Go to www.laptop.co.nz/surface-hub-2s where we have assembled a library of Introduction and How-To videos, plus device specifications.
For enquiries, speak to an account manager at The Laptop Company or Contact Us.
The Laptop Company is a Surface Hub user and Surface Hub partner supplying to government, higher education, healthcare and business. We share our experiences with the Hub and talk about the new Surface Hub 2s.
In general we recommend your systems team work with us to set up the device. Some functions can be rendered unavailable in certain setups, which will cause teething issues for users. The aim to is enable all functionality, allow users to seamlessly log in, connect devices to display and interact with, and ensure your network and data remain locked-down.
Start with the Whiteboard
The easiest place to get users started with the Surface Hub is the Microsoft Whiteboard app. It's versatile, can understand your writing, and lets you place all types of content on the board. Everything can be saved in perpetuity and shared with teams. We're seeing a lot of problem-solving and strategy being conducted internally using this app.
Better with Teams
While the device does work with Skype for Business, this service is nearing end-of-life. Microsoft Teams replaces Skype for Business while providing improved collaboration tools and interfaces. Both applications can be installed on user devices and the Surface Hub. Users can create shared whiteboards that can be edited by Hub users at the same time as users of devices that are equipped with pens (on or off-site).
Working on and off-site
Teams meetings can be conducted seamlessly - video attendees can be tiled full-screen or on the side of the screen to allow for a shared whiteboard or projection space. User screen-sharing is also supported for projecting documents and apps to the team. The Surface Hub supports multiple users interacting with the Surface Hub screen using different Surface Hub Pens. We use this for meetings with staff in different cities, as well as clients and partners.
Video call quality is generally excellent. The new Surface Hub 2s has a 4K display and camera. Users based overseas on slow connections or rural users will have reduced call quality to manage lag. New Zealand's generally excellent internet connections make this a non-issue for us.
Signing in with their Office 365 account allows users to share files, whiteboards, access and edit documents on their OneDrive, and connect to Teams meetings with full video conferencing capabilities. The Surface Hub can be booked for users through Outlook to reserve for meetings and to enable staff to see when the Hub is available.
Connect and project
The Hub supports WiDi and Miracast for connecting and project from Windows 10 laptops and tablets and allows the option of the Hub controlling the laptop - essentially creating a giant Tablet. We recommend user devices have wireless projection capability enabled for this - they will need Miracast/WiDi support too (we haven't seen laptops in quite some time that can't do this). Extended desktop, screen mirroring and presentation modes are supported when projecting wirelessly.
For high security environments, Surface Hub uses additional precautions over the standard WiDi / Miracast standard to lock down the device https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/surface-hub/surface-hub-wifi-direct.
To connect wirelessly from devices including Apple, Android and Chromebook, we recommend installing an app like AirServer Surface Hub edition. The Windows App Store has a number of Apps that can be installed on the Hub.
Performance computers and workstations
For high-performance computers - for example 3D workstations and editing suites - a cable connection via USB-C or HDMI+USB-C provides the highest quality display with lowest potential lag when interacting. This allows extremely high-demand apps to be displayed and interacted with using the workstation's GPU and CPU at up to 4K quality
A well set up device will reduce the user-training requirements. We created internal heroes who provided guidance to new users, often as a part of joint meetings. We find the ideal group size is somewhere around 6 trainees when training.
We can provide and recommend initial and up-skill training at least twice yearly through the course of ownership. This allows new users to be inducted, updated software features to be used and helps ensure the device is properly utilised by teams. As a new piece of equipment, it might otherwise be a bit daunting to new users.
Do we need it?
It would be hard to go back to a whiteboard or laptop-only video conferencing after using the Surface Hub, and it has been a boon for strategy and communications. It fits our needs well, but we can also appreciate the step-change that Microsoft has made with the new second generation models.
Want to know more or arrange a demo unit? Contact us.
If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s that the business environment can change rapidly. This is not news to the savviest creators, entrepreneurs and professionals that make up today’s workforce.
They know that agility is essential for staying one step ahead of the curve. Skillsets need to change rapidly to meet opportunities, and the ability to deal with dynamic new information is highly sought after.
This is what some have called “hustle”. Once a term for nefarious activities, it has been repurposed for the modern business world. Hustle now means thinking outside the box of traditional careers, businesses and ideas – and staying agile to act quickly on opportunities when they appear.
The tech challenges of hustle
The biggest driver of career and entrepreneurial success is now the ability to learn new information and act with rapid speed. However, if our technology can’t enable this agility, we are hamstrung before we’ve even begun.
We need devices that allow us to create and manage our businesses, as well as our own personal brand. This could include the ability to stream live video, design our own website, run our own digital marketing campaigns, and manage a growing audience of prospects and customers.
This requires bandwidth, power, and analytics. You need to stay connected and creative simultaneously, while having the insights to spot potential roadblocks. It also requires technology that can quickly troubleshoot disruptions and downtime.
Few disruptions are as catastrophic as cybersecurity breaches, and cyber attackers will target individuals just as easily as they target organisations. Wherever you are in the world, and whatever your hustle involves, you simply cannot afford the downtime associated with ransomware, phishing attacks and malware.
Your device is the driver of your success
To be successful as a creative professional or entrepreneur in any field, you only go as far as your tools allow you too. Few business investments will be as consequential as the technology and tools that enable you to find new customers and bring your ideas to life.
For anyone who is hustling, HP’s Elite Dragonfly laptop powered by Intel® Core™ i7 vPro® processor features an x360 degree hinge to flip from laptop to tablet. It’s tiny, incredibly light, flexible enough for any kind of hustle and powerful enough to run your business.
With extended battery life, you can stay connected with optional gigabit-class 4G LTE and gigabit-speed Wi-Fi 6 – meaning you’ll never miss a single opportunity. Best of all, these devices include next-gen security for protecting firmware that antivirus solutions can’t with HP Sure Start Gen 4. By automatically self-healing the BIOS from malware, rootkits, or corruption, you can minimise downtime, and prevent costly security breaches.
The Laptop Company can help you hustle with devices that deliver power, performance and security – both for you and your employees. As an HP Gold Partner and supplier of computers to corporate, education and small business users throughout NZ, we can help you choose the ideal device for driving business success.
Find out more by visiting www.laptop.co.nz/hp
Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Core, Intel vPro, Core Inside and vPro Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.
Common wisdom for running Excel is that just about any PC will do. For investment firms, researchers and data analysts, however, things change. They use tools like Excel differently from other users.
These users are highly intelligent, able to visualise complex problems, and capable of creating methods to extract information from big data sets using tools like Excel and Tableau. The more they can do with more data, the more they can achieve.
If your team’s laptops are maxing out on CPU utilisation, fan speed and memory, or experiencing reliability problems relating to high thermal loads, a switch to mobile workstations can pay dividends.
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 2
Designed to consistently crunch enormous amounts of data without unnecessary thermal throttling or reliability questions, the P1 Gen 2 is made for specialist users in finance, engineering and cinema.
That last industry means the P1 can be had with a 4K UHD screen and connect to multiple external 4K monitors when optioned with NVIDIA Quadro. This benefits anyone who needs to see and digest large amounts of data from multiple sources.
Maxing out the P1 gives either Intel Core i9 8 core / 16 thread performance or Intel Xeon 6 core / 12 thread. Either will be a revelation for anyone moving from a standard laptop. Maximum memory is 64GB - memory and storage can be upgraded in the field.
How much better?
CPU performance for mobile workstation class Intel Core i9 versus mainstream Intel Core i5
Intel Core i9-9880H versus Intel Core i5-8265u benchmarks November 2019
Note: Optimised thermal design required for sustained performance outside test conditions.
For mixed teams – including management, human resources and sales, the device can be specified down to save costs while maintaining a common platform for all users, or these users can switch to the similar-looking Lenovo ThinkPad X1 series - an excellent business-class laptop. All benefit from the range's excellent ergonomics, lightweight design and industry-leading reliability.
The second generation Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is available now from The Laptop Company – contact us to talk about device configuration, purchasing and deployment options for your team.
What's the difference?
What’s the difference between Lenovo’s flagship corporate laptop and their leading mobile workstation?
Both are designed to be thin and light while providing high levels of performance and excellent display quality, but each is designed for very different types of user.
Who are these devices designed for?
Carbon Fibre and Magnesium Alloy casing
Optional Touch Screen
Dolby Atmos speakers
2 USB 3 ports, 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 3, LAN connector and headphone jack
Both are robustly designed with backlit keyboards, webcams with privacy shutters and a similar look-and-feel.
Blue = better | Red = lower
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 has been proven as a strong performer across enterprise fleets – higher performance users opting for Intel Core i7 with 16GB of memory will find ample performance and long-haul flight battery-life. The device is particularly slim and light and offers a premium look and feel that far exceeds cheaper fleet and retail devices. This is well-suited for deployment across a typical corporate or government workforce where durability and dependability is important.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 2, is similar looking on the outside but quite different under the skin. While remarkably thin and light (and pretty) for a mobile workstation, its heavy-weight performance does mean the device is heavier and uses more power than the X1 (while running faster). Despite the powerful components, typical corporate users won’t see an appreciable difference in performance for applications like Word or Outlook. However, users of complex and massive Excel worksheets, Tableau, crypto and workstation-class engineering, editing, design and animation suites will notice a substantial boost.
Typical deployment - performance environment
What about the X1 Extreme?
The ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 has a near-twin in the ThinkPad X1 Extreme.
With NVIDIA GeForce graphics, the X1 Extreme is optimised for high frame rates and superior gaming performance.
The NVIDIA Quadro graphics found in the P1 are optimised for stability, sustained thermal load and fidelity. Like-for-like, we would opt for the P1 for users who need workhorse-like stability for productivity, especially for staff on billable time.
The X1 Extreme is extremely attractive for corporate users who need quality gaming time when overseas. We would give the entry level Intel Core i5 a miss in favour of an i7 six core or greater setup to make the most of the device.
Waste is nothing new, and neither is recycling. What has changed drastically in recent years is the massive amounts of electronic waste or e-waste we’re creating.
Because most of us only buy a new electronic device every 1-2 years, we don’t tend to worry about what happens to our old devices. We dutifully recycle plastic and glass on a daily basis, but we pay less attention to what should or could happen to our electronic devices when we’re finished with them.
When we consider the number of new devices our business rolls out every year, it’s no surprise that we produce upwards of 50 million tonnes of e-waste every year globally. Much of this e-waste is dumped illegally, and e-waste landfills are considered some of the most toxic places on Earth.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way, as our electronic devices can still be circulated back into use in one form or another. When we design devices correctly and pay more attention to the materials contained in each device, we can maximise the useful lifetime of everything we create.
This is the essence of what’s now known as the circular economy, and it’s a system that could offer your business new avenues for being both more sustainable and cost effective.
Closing the loop
The concept of a circular economy has been explored for decades by various academic groups and think tanks, but it reached broad appeal when the Ellen MacArthur Foundation partnered with McKinsey Research for their 2013 landmark report: Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition.
In the report, a new economic model is described which can decouple global economic development from finite resource consumption. By restoring and reusing products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, a circular economy:
Fast forward to the 2018 World Economic Forum, and HP joined the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and in 2019 extended their commitment to continue transitioning to a circular “make, use, reuse” approach that seeks to close the loop for their products. As a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation global commitment to address plastic waste at its source, HP now innovates to ensure the plastics they use are reusable or recyclable, while circulating plastics away from the environment and back into the economy.
From ownership to outcomes
Dovetailing with the movement towards the circular economy has been the popularity of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) models for IT investment. Driven by the switch from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud, organisations are enthusiastically adopting new models of IT investment that are less about owning assets, and more about getting an outcome.
One area that is ripe for this transition is in device management. Organisations want to equip users with the right hardware and support to get the job done, while improving end user productivity, IT efficiency, and cost predictability.
This is where HP Device as a Service (DaaS) offers a complete solution that combines hardware, support, insightful analytics, proactive management services for every stage of an organisation’s device lifecycle. Not only does it reduce the costs and complexity of owning and managing devices – it also contributes to a more sustainable operating model for businesses.
As a partner of HP and Intel®, we have assisted many organisations to reduce their waste and emissions, because the HP devices we supply are designed to be repaired. The Laptop Company is helping save around 150kg of carbon (plus manufacturing waste) for each device we repair instead of replacing with new.
We are proudly delivering HP’s DaaS to help NZ businesses maximise the value and useful life of the devices used across their workforce. We can tailor a HP DaaS solution that enables you to drive productivity, reduce costs and complexity, all while creating a more sustainable future.
Intel and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.