Make sure you get the right equipment for your practice at the right price and avoid getting burned by hot deals.
You’ve probably seen the Sunday paper ad inserts for very low price PCs offered by big box stores and manufacturer. Is that $399 discount computer a viable option for your practice? How do you make sure you get the right equipment for your practice, at the right price, and avoid getting burned by hot deals? Let’s look at some of the potential pitfalls of under- or over-purchasing new computer equipment.
Understand the Price
To begin, make sure you know the “whys” behind a PCs rock-bottom price. Is it an outdated system the vendor is trying to clear out to make room for more powerful units? Is it a consumer- or business-quality PC?
Do the components, including the Windows operating system (OS), meet your computing power needs for digital dentistry? Can you get replacement parts and service?
Replacing a low-quality PC can be costly, not only in terms of the hardware, but also in terms of unexpected downtime and productivity loss. It pays to be an educated buyer when it comes to computer technology, and you should understand what you are buying in today’s crowded PC marketplace.
Choose Your Windows Version
One way vendors lower their PC prices is to include the most basic version of Microsoft Windows, known as Windows Home Edition. We frequently see complications when a practice attempts to use the Windows Home Edition to run their business applications in a networked environment.
Home Edition is tailored for basic home use, not business, and often does not support business software. On the other hand, Windows Ultimate Edition, the OS designed for large networked systems, is overkill for most dental software. Stick with your software vendors’ recommendations for the right foundation. You’ll also avoid frustration when you call your software vendor for support. With Home Edition on your PC, you’ll run into support roadblocks because your vendors won’t guarantee their software will work with anything but their list of supported operating systems. Stick to Windows 7 Professional or, in the case of Windows 8, Pro Edition for the right mix of features, power, and the widest range of software compatibility. Before upgrading your computer systems to Windows 8, or any 64-bit version of Windows, ensure all of your digital hardware and software are compatible, per the vendor, to avoid major problems and headaches.
Visit the Dentrix Resource Center at www.dentrix.com/resource-center and click the Documents tab to download the most current version of the Dentrix system requirements.
Know Your Processors
Processor speed and memory capacity are additional areas where retailers use razzle-dazzle to try to make products look more attractive. Don’t get caught up in the gigahertz speed comparisons of yesteryear. Today it is all about the number of cores in the processor. Intel is the reigning king with its “i” series of processors. Computers with Intel’s Core 2 Duos can still be found in entry-level computers. However, if you plan on purchasing a machine with a three-year (or possibly longer) lifespan, invest in an i5 or i7 processor. These components have four processing cores and are much faster than their two-processor predecessors. Keep in mind that most software vendors only recommend Intel-based chipsets on their hardware requirements lists.
When it comes to system memory, known as RAM, 8 GB is the wise choice. Even though many applications can’t take advantage of more than 4 GB of RAM today, they will in the future. If you plan to use your computers for more than three years, investing now in RAM means you’ll be better prepared for future software upgrades. Also, 64-bit versions of Windows utilize the extra memory for faster overall computing.
Count Your Ports
Take time to understand the number, locations and types of ports a computer has to make sure you have enough of them to plug in your keyboard, mouse, printer, and all of those other dental devices you just purchased.
Go For Business Class
The decision to purchase business-class equipment comes down to both the computing power and the quality of the PCs you trust to run your business. Just because two computers have similar technical specifications doesn’t mean you’re getting the entire story. The quality of the components manufacturers use in their consumer-level and business-grade computers differs greatly. Dell offers both consumer-class computers and business-class computers.
Typically, business-class equipment has higher mean times between failures and is more reliable. The Dell OptiPlex series, for example, is a line of PCs designed for reliable business use, not light home use. These PCs are designed and tested to last longer compared to low-end PCs. Dell maintains a minimum 18-month life cycle on their business-class lines. This means that if you decide to add more PCs later on or replace your computers in phases, you have a higher chance of getting the same model of computer. Standardizing on one model of computer, or very few models, generally reduces your overall support costs and minimizes your headaches during software patching and upgrades.
Henry Schein Can Help
Henry Schein TechCentral can make it easy for you to get the technology you need to power your digital practice. Contact your Henry Schein sales specialist today to find out how TechCentral solutions can help you with all your technology and computer hardware needs. Visit www.henryscheintechcentral.com or call us at 877-483.0832 for more information.
For more information about TechCentral or to schedule your free technology assessment, visit http://www.hstechcentral.com/.
Certain components of the products or services described above are provided by third parties. Henry Schein One and its affiliates are not responsible for, and expressly disclaim, all liability for damages of any kind arising out of the use of those third party products or services.
By Brian Calverley, Henry Schein TechCentral
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Fall 2012