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HP And The SMB Desktop

For many SMBs and others, desktop PCs aren't going away in any hurry, so it makes sense to invest in new machines with expandability headroom, and good service.
For many SMBs and others, desktop PCs aren't going away in any hurry, so it makes sense to invest in new machines with expandability headroom, and good service.The pricing and performance of today's desktop computers makes replacement increasingly more sensible than stretching out product use cycle, and for most, desktops still offer more bang for the buck. (I'll talk about desktop versus notebook in a later post.)

For vendors, one challenge is that desktop PCs are commodities from a hardware perspective, not casually distinguished from each other by components or price. Yes, they don't all have the same components or specs, and there's some price spread within an apples-to-apples configuration line-up. But I don't know whether pricing alone is enough to swing a sale.

What else helps drive -- or lose -- a sale?

For buyers, of course, it's not just the hardware, it's getting something as ready as possible to use once out of the box, with ways to make it less likely to fail, and easier and less expensive to service. And buying boxes with some room to juice up capacity later on, as a given user's or groups needs grow -- many name-brand vendors have often used proprietary-sized parts, making it difficult to impossible, or have warranties that doing this break, where white box vendors often are more flexible.

So HP's introduction of its new SMB-targeted Pro 3130 desktop PC (per my InformationWeek/SMB news article) makes a lot of sense. (And I'm sure HP isn't the only one figuring this out.)

Amortizing a sub-$1,000 machine for three years instead of four or five years comes out to a negligible difference (particularly if you pony up on a service contract for years four and five). It's still small change per month.

On the other hand, as my own experience attests, even if there's no service downtime or repairs costs, the per-month toll in user productivity grows higher over time, between increased wait time and a few hours here and there to fix or reload something or other.

And at some point (and I don't know if there's a named law for it), there's that new application or web site you need to use that your computer isn't going to be good enough for.

Desktop computers just aren't that expensive anymore, compared to the value of the work they're being used for.

So it's time to take a look at those aging desktops, wake up, and smell the productivity and IT expense burn. Today's new computers are more affordably than last year's, and are likely to repay you in reduced costs to own. Particularly if you're ready to begin moving to Windows 7, or no longer putting it off.

You may decide that doubling down on RAM is worth it on some systems, maybe even an in-place migration to Windows 7. The question is, will that seem it was the right choice in six months or a year?

Let me know.