Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Desktop vs. Docking Station: What's Best for Lawyers?

When it comes to choosing the right tech for your law office, one of the biggest questions firms face is choosing desktops or laptops. This question gets even more complicated because laptops can be used with docking stations allowing attorneys to have multiple screens and other perks associated with using a desktop.

For those firms that are leaning toward laptops, often, questions abound about whether using a docking station while in the office is worthwhile, or just having separate desktop computers for in office use is better. After all, when it comes to tech and computing, size matters.

Below is some helpful advice on navigating this computational dilemma.

Hard Line

One of the biggest advantages to using a desktop computer is security. Although desktops and laptops can both work on Wi-Fi networks, when you're in the office, using a hardwired connection to the internet is much more secure. Fortunately for laptop users, a docking station can be configured to have a hardwired internet connection that allows your laptop to avoid Wi-Fi when docked in office.

Screen Estate

Having a desktop usually goes hand in hand with having a large monitor or maybe two or three. All that screen real estate is helpful when drafting pleadings, doing research, or even responding to emails. Although, all that screen may make it harder to pretend like you were working when the boss comes waltzing in.

However, when using a laptop on a docking station, you can also use your laptop's display as an additional monitor (which can be quickly tilted down to hide a game of solitaire or personal chat/web-browser window).

Cost Versus Convenience

Typically, desktops will cost less than laptops in every single regard, from purchase to maintenance and replacement. But, the fact remains that many attorneys will be able to put in more hours (while out of the office), if they have a laptop. This skews the calculus significantly towards the laptop with in-office docking station as the preferred option. It also avoids problems associated with having locally stored files on multiple machines, and the cost associated with buying both a laptop and a desktop (though firms sometimes require associates that want laptops to foot the bill themselves).

Physical Security

Despite all the clear advantages of laptops over desktops, desktops get stolen much less frequently than laptops. This is likely due to the opportunistic nature of most theft crimes. Basically, a laptop left unattended in public is much more likely to be stolen than a desktop computer, particularly if the computer is housed in a large metal case, like most desktops are.

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