Even the most conservative technology research firms now admit more laptops than desktops are sold each year. Add in the popularity of three-pound netbooks (should we call those laptoplets?) and the spread between desktop and laptop will increase to the laptop's favor. Add in the lower power requirements for laptops and you can call yourself green for avoiding desktops. But what about those who need serious computing power? Buy those people workstations, not desktops.
Take a look around your company and count how many people do more with their computer than e-mail, word processing, and spreadsheets. What packaged applications run on their computers beyond that? How resource intensive are those applications?
If your accounting people run QuickBooks Enterprise, you may need more power than a laptop. If that's the case, get them a workstation with a 64-bit CPU and 64-bit software (XP and Vista have 64-bit versions) and take advantage of the added horsepower to increase the work performed at those stations.
If your marketing people edit audio or video, the more power they have the more work they can get done. Get them a workstation. Ditto if you still have programmers compiling programs – more power means more work accomplished in the same amount of time. Other resource intensive applications like Adobe Creative Suite need all the power they can get, so give them a workstation.
Companies avoided workstations in the past because they were far more expensive than regular desktop computers. But the combination of lower prices for workstations (any 64-bit PC or Macintosh fits my definition for this discussion) and the savings you will get by replacing desktops with laptops means you'll have a net savings over time.
Some bean counters will point out that low end laptops are still more expensive than low end desktops. True, but by the time you add in buying monitors and three times the power draw for desktops, you're getting pretty close to equal. Since I've recently seen HP laptops with 3GB of RAM and large hard drives, along with 16 inch screens, advertised for around $500, the laptop versus desktop price war may be about finished. Add in the fact that many desktop users demand a laptop as well for work at home and on the road, and you can certainly save money buying one good laptop rather than one desktop and one laptop.
Before you buy any more computers, see if you can save money, save energy, and reduce desktop/laptop duplication buy sticking with laptops or workstations. I bet you will.
Has your company has made the switch to all laptops? If so, let us know.