Windows Ultra-Portables: What Financial Planners And Wealth Managers Need To Know Hot

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Operating System.
The vast majority of advisors use Microsoft today and you don’t need to change at this point. With Windows 8, a new generation of hardware choices has emerged that, at long last, has responded to Apple and Google.
Ultra-Portables For Financial Advisors. If you have not bought a new computer in two years or more, the hot new category of computers—the ultra-portable—is a good choice for many advisors. These devices can pack the processing power and RAM of your current laptop but weigh much less and give you touchscreen-interface. Some ultra-portables, like Microsoft Surface Pro, and the soon-to-be-released Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, are laptop and tablets in one. 

Are You A One-Device Person?
Some people love having one device, while others do not. Logically, having one device should be your goal. The cloud makes your practice more portable, and using a single device for email, practice management and financial advice applications as well spreadsheets, word processing, and research is convenient and saves time. A two-core laptop-tablet is probably not for you if you create documents, files and other content more than 80% of your working day—working in spreadsheets, manipulating pictures, creating publications or editing videos. You will likely be happier with a processor with at least four cores. You’re probably not a one-device kind of person because two-core processors are all that’s available right now in ultraportables. Consider buying a desktop. Your computer is way too important for you not to have the power of a desktop.

Should You Wait Six Months?
Tablets with desktop power are improving fast. The Lenovo Helix—set to be released in mid-May 2013 with a Intel® Core™ i7-3667U processor with two cores and a maximum clock speed of 3.2GHz—is the top of the ultraportable heap this month in tablet-PCs. Late this year, a new generation of quad-core processors for tablet/PCs is expected. With the processing power on those devices, an advisor can run complex spreadsheets, most desktop performance reporting apps, and edit videos using an app like Camtasia Studio. The Helix should be able to meet the processor power needed by most hands-on financial planners, but wait for my review of it in a few weeks. I’m buying a Helix and will let you know. If you are among the 20% of advisors who use their computers creating content most of the time, you should be able to move to a single device at the end of 2013.

What About Surface Pro?
I was really looking forward to the release of the Microsoft Surface Pro (see my review), but I used it for about three months and find it too small as a laptop. If you’re not sitting at a desk and hooked up to an external monitor, it’s tough to read it and a little heavy to hold as a tablet. The Surface Pro might be the right computer for many advisors. You can buy it with up to an Intel Core i5-3317U processor with a top speed of 2.6 GHz.  While less powerful than the Helix, it’s got enough power for many advisors to make it their only computer. Personally, I’m a content creator. I need a computer that lets me type and take notes whether I’m on a big chair, sofa, bed, or a park bench. The Surface Pro screen is too small for me to read and manipulate content on when I’m using it as a laptop. If you hook it up to a monitor, it’s probably fine. As a tablet, Surface Pro’s display is gorgeous and the touch interface is transformative for Windows users. But Surface Pro is a little too heavy in the hand as a tablet. It might be the right computer for a lot of advisors, but for a reporter who takes notes and writes in airports, the Surface Pro 10.6-inch display is too small. I’m looking at a 11.6” tablet-PC now and may ultimately wind up with a 12.5-inch.


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