Transforming Your Laptop into a Workstation

Paul Mah
Slide Show

Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Laptop

Laptop sales have long surpassed sales of traditional desktop machines. Highly preferred by most workers due to their inherent portability, it is now a common sight to see staffers bringing their work laptop home or when going for an overseas trip.

There are times, though, where additional oomph would have been helpful. On this front, I highlight three suggestions below to give your laptop a workstation-like boost.

Purchase an additional monitor

The fastest way to improve the capability of a laptop would be to acquire an additional monitor. Among other benefits, the additional desktop space allows more apps to be visible, cutting down on the time needed to switch between apps.

As you can see from Increase Your Productivity with an Additional Monitor,” which I wrote more than three years ago, I’ve always advocated the use of more than one monitor for greater productivity. Moreover, the cost of an external monitor has fallen progressively over the years. So what are you waiting for?

Get a docking station

The arrival of laptops with USB 3.0 ports earlier this year were quickly followed by vendors unveiling their USB 3.0-based docking stations for ultrabooks and laptops. Having tested the Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock and other docking stations recently, my take on them is that they are very good.  

For the uninitiated, a typical USB 3.0-based docking station will have a number of additional USB 3.0 ports, sound input and output, Gigabit Ethernet LAN and DisplayLink-powered VGA and/or DVI video output. If it’s not obvious by now: A docking station greatly expands the capability of a laptop.

Deploy an NAS over Ethernet

Network-attached storage (NAS) serves as a central repository that can be shared among co-workers. Stripping data across multiple hard disk drives using RAID substantially increases the availability of a NAS appliance. This is not well known, but depending on the configuration details, a NAS can actually offer speedier data access over Gigabit Ethernet LAN than over a local hard disk drive.

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