10 Reasons Why Consumers Should Buy Business Laptops

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Business Laptops

Laptop makers take great pains to differentiate between their consumer- and professional-oriented product lines. But in many cases, home users would be better off if they ignored the marketing spin and bought business laptops. While consumer portables are usually designed for style, business laptops frequently offer a tougher chassis, more configuration options and better usability.

Large corporate customers buy these notebooks by the thousands and expect them to last for several years. So if manufacturers want to keep Fortune 500 clients happy, they need to design their business laptops to a higher standard of quality. Even if you don't "work" in the traditional sense ─ all you do on your laptop is write emails, surf the Web and post to social media ─ you can benefit a great deal from a notebook that's optimized for productivity but is still affordable.

Here are 10 reasons to consider a business laptop.

Built to Last

If you want a notebook that can survive drops and spills, a business system is more likely to take the abuse. Lenovo, for example, equips a number of its ThinkPads, including the T450s, with a roll cage that helps it survive.

Matte Displays with Better Viewing Angles

Glossy displays have become nearly ubiquitous on consumer notebooks, because vendors believe consumers shopping retail will be swayed by their shininess and slightly more vibrant colors. However, the glossier the display, the worse the viewing angles. (Imagine trying to read a Web page and seeing your reflection more than the text.)

If they don't come with touch screens, most business systems have matte displays. For example, in Dell's lineup, the consumer-oriented Dell Inspiron 15 5000 comes with a glossy panel, while the Dell Latitude 15 5000, which is marketed to corporate customers, comes standard with an anti-glare display. Unfortunately, if you configure the Latitude, or any other business laptop, with a touch screen you will have to live with a glossy surface because that's necessary for touch.

MORE: Best Business Laptops

Better Keyboards

We're not saying that consumer keyboards and touchpads aren't good, just that their business counterparts have to bring something really tactile and responsive to the table to appeal to enterprises, which are always focused on productivity (aka typing).

Dell Latitude E7250 Keyboard Has 1.8mm of travel

For example, Lenovo's ThinkPad keyboards are the gold standard for all laptops, with snappy feedback, strong travel and large, curved keys that are easy to feel without looking. However, the same company's consumer laptops often suffer from weak travel and shrunken keys. For example, the $949 Yoga 3 14 has shallow, dull keys, whereas the enterprise-friendly ThinkPad Yoga 14, which goes for $959, has 60 percent more vertical travel and 10 percent more actuation force, giving it a much better typing experience.

More and Better Pointing Options

We can't name a single consumer notebook with anything other than a touchpad for navigation. However, if you like pointing sticks (and we do), several business systems have them in addition to touchpads. Everyone knows that Lenovo ThinkPads have their famous red TrackPoints, but several HP ProBooks, Dell Latitudes and Toshiba Tecras also have pointing sticks between their G and H keys. Many people love these so-called "nubs" because they're more accurate than touchpads and because touch typists don't have to lift their fingers off the home row to use them.


The touchpads on business laptops are usually designed for form over function. In many cases, they have discrete buttons, whereas most consumer models force you to click left or right on the entire pad, which is less accurate and less comfortable.

Replaceable, Extended Batteries

These days most laptops come with sealed-in batteries that you can't remove without taking them to a service center. However, some business systems still let you swap batteries on your own so you can carry a spare or upgrade to a larger unit. For example, you can buy the Latitude 14 5000 with either a 3-cell or a 4-cell battery, with the latter costing just $20.35 more.

Dell Battery Choice

Less Crapware

A large or mid-size business simply can't afford to pay its IT department to sit there uninstalling crapware from each new notebook it orders. Vendors know this and intentionally avoid overloading their business notebooks with too much unwanted trialware. You still find trial versions of security software, but that's usually about it.

Biometric Security

You won't see too many consumer laptops with fingerprint readers, but many business systems have them standard or as an inexpensive ($20 to $30) option. With a reader, you can swipe-login to Windows or configure a password manager to use your fingerprint as a credential.

Long Life Span, More Serviceable

Because corporations hold onto their laptops for years, hardware vendors must keep offering parts and service. For that reason, business models usually stay on the market for a year or longer and components, such as replacement batteries and AC Adapters, are available for many years. Although a lot of ultrathin business notebooks are difficult, if not impossible to service on your own, mainstream and larger sizes usually have RAM and storage that you can upgrade.

Reasonably Priced

Now you might be asking: What about price? Depending on what you compare it with, a business system may cost $100 to $200 more than a consumer model for the same specs. Other times, the price delta is minimal. For example, the consumer-oriented Toshiba Satellite Radius P55W costs just $70 less than a similarly configured Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, which is marketed as a business system but provides a much better keyboard, discrete graphics and 3 hours of additional battery life.

Bottom Line

Many of the major notebook vendors have built their organizations around the idea that businesses and home users have different needs and deserve different products. However, there's no reason to buy into that marketing hype. If you want a laptop as opposed to a tablet or a phone, it's because you have work to do, whether that work is programming a website, composing a newsletter for the PTA, authoring a book report for your third-grade class or keeping up with relatives on Facebook. Many times, a business notebook makes that work a lot easier.

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Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • jheel Says:

    This article is pretty old, but kudos to the author for favoring business laptops.
    I have two points to emphasize here:
    1>Consumer laptops offer more "bang for the buck". If you purchase an HP Envy, it comes with things like FHD display, Backlit keyboard, 4GB NVIDIA 850M graphics, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, and a built-in subwoofer which sounds really great!
    If you purchase a ProBook at the same price, it comes with the standard 768p display, NO backlit keyboard, 2GB AMD radeon graphics, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, and the standard 2-laptop speaker configuration which sounds really bad if you're playing music or watching a movie...
    At the same price, consumer notebooks offer faster/better hardware internal components.

    2>The newer HP Envys is a nightmare to repair when something goes wrong, or you want a simple upgrade. To remove the hard disk, you'll have to remove like 30 screws in the Envy 17. THIRTY SCREWS FOR A HARD DISK REPLACEMENT.
    And to add an extra RAM stick, you'll have to take the whole laptop apart. Yes you heard me right, if you want to add an extra memory module, you'll have to remove 80 screws and take the motherboard out of the laptop to access the memory slots. REMOVE MOTHERBOARD TO ADD RAM.

    This is the UGLIEST internal design I've ever seen. How much does it cost to purchase a hard drive? If the hard drive fails, is HP expecting me to throw away a $1000+? What if the the RAM fails or I want to expand?
    Of course you can remove 80 screws and take the motherboard out just to replace the RAM, but it looks a bit too stupid (and risky) to do this at home- you'll waste too much time and chances of breaking something will dramatically increase- there are a lot of cables you'll need to remove in order to take the motherboard out, and these cables are fragile, the ports they connect to have plastic locks and latches on them and if you break a lock, you'll have to replace the whole motherboard.
    The only feasible option it appears to me, is to call up HP tech support and arrange for an "out of warranty" repair if something goes wrong after a year, of if you want to upgrade the RAM.
    It'll cost more to get service from HP. It will take more time. The options available will be limited (limited number of HDD brands/sizes, limited number of RAM brands).
    RAM, HDD, OD, WiFi, Keyboard, are the easiest things to replace yourself in a laptop, unless the laptop is intentionally designed to make things difficult and force the customer to call up tech support/ dump the computer altogether and get a new one.

    On the other hand, take a look at the ProBook 450 G2. It's the business edition from HP.
    It's so straightforward to service. You remove ONE screw, and the service door comes out. You have access to things which commonly fail or require upgrade- keyboard. HDD, RAM, WiFi, OD etc,
    And you also have access to the cooling fan, you can clean it from the inside.
    You don't have to unplug a SINGLE internal cable to remove the HDD or the RAM! Chances of accidental damage while servicing is extremely low. And you can purchase parts from any computer store and replace them at home, very easily.
    A motherboard failure will still require you to remove 30 screws, but let's be honest, motherboards don't fail often, and if they do, their cost is so high that it's better to dump the laptop altogether.

    MY ADVICE: stick with business laptops. The author is correct.
    If you must have high-end graphics and stuff- build a desktop computer yourself. It'll be more cost effective, more powerful, and easy to service if something goes bad.
    Avoid consumer laptops at all costs, unless you never upgrade/ repair your own computers yourself, and always call up manufacturer tech support for simple things like HDD replacement.

  • Thorsten Says:

    Another important point is that business hardware usually comes with a 3 year warranty - cosumer hardware usually comes with 1 year limited warranty.

  • VÄ“er Says:

    Not sure that aspect ratio has something to do with business vs consumer laptops, its inevitable change that has allready affected 15" business laptops.
    Another serious reason to consider business laptops is superior warranty and customer service, more warranty choices within one product line and better post-warranty upgrades.

  • chester Says:

    Well done! Thank You Chester.

  • Jirka Says:

    Another reason is screen size or aspect ratio! Not everyone wants to just watch movies on notebook. Some people use that for normal work too :-) And 16:9 ratio and vertical screen resolution 600 pixels...I don't know. Sometimes with all those unwanted toolbars you can see only 10 lines in text editor software or on web page, email client... It's ridiculous.... But it's almost impossible these days to find a notebook with 4:3 ratio and resolution 1280x1024, 1400x1050 or similar. Recently I was on the market for netbook and ended up with IBM X40...I was lucky for almost like new one and I cannot be happier....such a sturdy notebook body cannot have any netbook, absolutely lovely keyboard, point stick, vertical resolution 768 pixels and most of all matte displey, i.e. I can use the laptop everywhere, not only inside building...and all this for $150, with upgade to SSD hard drive still bellow current netbook prices....I am thinking of buying another one or IBM X60 just in case something happens to this one :-)

  • Avram Piltch Says:


    I'll admit to be being a bit harsh about Facial Recognition software, but I'm still not sold on how it adds either convenience or security. Any Windows PC can be set to automatically lock (and require re-login) after a period of inactivity. The key issue with every facial recognition I have used are these:

    1. Inaccurate -- I have yet to use a facial recognition login software that easily recognized my face in every lighting and situation after registering.

    2. Slow, even when accurate -- Even when I've used software that detects my face, it's infinitely faster to just type in a password than to wait for it to scan a face and check it. Usually, it even takes several attempts.

    3. Since every piece of facial recognition software I've used allows you to skip the facial recognition software and login by password if necessary, the recognition is no more secure than a password.

  • Darin Says:

    "Consumer notebooks have facial recognition software, which is more of a gimmick than a feature, as it takes longer and is more annoying than typing in a login password."

    Thank you for bringing up many important points about security. You are quite correct that most implementations of facial recognition are not sufficiently robust to be considered serious security tools. However, not all of them are.

    As an example, FastAccess from Dell is based on technology that's been used for years in security critical enterprise locations such as hospitals and banks. It has extremely rapid and accurate recognition, adapts to lighting and other changes, has built-in dual factor security, and most importantly can automatically lock the desktop when the user steps out of view....a very real and important security improvement. (Most solutions focus exclusively on secure logo-IN, not reliable and automatic locking or log-OUT which is just as important.) In Dell's business line, their Latitude Z uniquely has this automatic locking feature.

  • Jonathan Angel Says:

    Your excellent post didn't mention the additional fact that business netbooks also generally have longer lifecycles, offering better availability of parts, battery packs, and other accessories. This can be key for those who'd like to keep a system going for a number of years.

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