Mobile Computers: The case for solid-state drives, continued

February 22, 2008

Mobile computers in your office don't need a ton of storage space. That fact makes it easier to justify buying a machine with a solid-state drive.

Mobile computers in your office don’t need a ton of storage space. That fact makes it easier to justify buying a machine with a solid-state drive.

When you buy a laptop for personal use, you’re likely to turn it into a photo and music library, which eats up a lot of gigabytes of storage space. So you’re naturally going to gravitate to machines with drives packing as many as 250 gigs.

However, a laptop or tablet intended for your practice probably will lead a more Spartan existence, accessing electronic charts in a wireless network for the most part. In this kind of computing environment, IT experts say, a mobile computer can perform wonderfully with only a 30-gig hard drive. “The local storage required is typically minimal,” says Dave Ott, vice president of technical Services at EHR-maker NextGen Healthcare Information Systems.

This low bar for storage capacity means you don’t need a Godzilla hard drive, which can jack up the cost of your machine by $100 or so. It also makes mobile computers with the new-fangled solid-state drives more appealing. As we explained in the Jan. 11, 2008 edition of InfoTech Bulletin, solid-state drives use the same flash memory found in iPods and digital cameras. Besides weighing less and working faster, these drives lack moving parts, so if your machine crashes to the floor, your drive won’t crash with it.

The rap against solid-state drives is that they have relatively measly storage capacity-30 to 60 gigs usually-yet cost gig for gig far more than traditional hard drives, adding as much as $400 to $500 to the cost of a computer. However, 30 to 60 gigs aren’t measly when you use a mobile computer at the office. And that hefty premium for solid state is easier to swallow if you want a drive that can survive a drop to the floor.

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