Computer Hire? – Pros and Cons of Laptop Rental

Have you ever considered what would happen if your beloved notebook computer was hit by the dreaded blue screen of death? Great your portable pal is still under warranty, you just send it back to the manufacturer for repair – right? What happens if that repair takes 10-14 days, and you have an important meeting or conference in Chicago, Los Angeles, London or New York coming up? Do you buy a brand new pc or look at laptop rental options?

One advantage of renting a notebook is that you can get your sweaty palms on the latest core 2 duo machine without paying out a huge wad of cash in one go. Another is that recently laptops have been the subject of travel restrictions by some airlines. If you don’t like the idea of airport hassle, and you only need the computer for a one off meeting or conference, why not rent a notebook and pick it up at your destination hotel? Better than risking it being banished to the hold of a plane, if strict travel guidelines are in place.

On to the negatives. A disadavantage of renting is that you must keep the laptop covered under your insurance policy, or take out additional insurance with the renting company. Otherwise if you spill a toffee nut latte on your Merom hireling, or because of senses dulled by copious quantities of saki consumed at the trade show after party, you leave it in the back of a taxi, you will be held responsible for its repair or replacement.

Also watch out for those mounting monthly costs. If for some reason your broken notebook takes a month or longer to repair, those rental fees will add up. Anywhere from 200 dollars a month for a humble Pentium 3 to upwards of 600 dollars for the latest core 2 duo machine. For our poor UK readers you don’t just get ripped off by high petrol prices. In London it could cost you 30-50 pounds a day to rent a cutting edge notebook.

If you want my opinion rentals are good to solve short term disasters, where you desperately need a wireless notebook for that critical presentation at a trade show or convention center. For longer periods of time the figures just don’t add up. Why pay 300 bucks a month long term, when a brand new entry level discount notebook can be bought outright for under $400 these days. There are even cheap dual core machines on the market for under $700, that’s only two months of renting a Pentium M or Pentium 4 notebook.

One last thing, folks often get leasing and renting mixed up. Rentals are usually short term agreements, leases can be spread over a few years. A benefit of leasing is that you can usually upgrade your laptop and keep pace with changing technology at any point during the lease term. That may involve an increase in your monthly payments, but the overall cost is spread out over a longer term. Excellent news for businesses with cash flow problems.

By Todd Gold – Laptopical

Friday, October 27, 2006