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G'day Nick

I have used a variety of leasing options over the last 10 years to resource notebook programmes. I have leased large - about a million quids worth at the moment (900 machines for staff and students in Melbourne) to medium scale, about 250 machines for staff and students, and quite recently have helped arrange a small programme of about 70 machines just for staff at a school in Surrey, England.

I have arranged leases under British, French and Australian financial systems. One thing is for sure you need to do a lot of careful research and depending on the economic climate (the cost of money to your school as well) you may be better of buying them and onselling them at the end of your life cycle - although that can cost you money as you don't know what the economic climate will be in three years time so be wary of this.

I would recommend you go through a major supplier and reseller who has a variety of finance companies you can talk to. You should roll everything you can into a three year operational lease which should include hand back at the end of the programme. Get them to specify in writing what constitutes fair wear and tear (Toshiba will do this for you)

The Computer

The Bag

A three year extended warranty (hence the three year operational lease)

Three years insurance (with specified excess payments)

Delivery and on-site training

The level of service that you require ( my broken machines are picked up by courier from school at 4pm and returned fixed by 9am the next morning - I know this will be hard to do in the UK as I have just tried to negotiate this unsuccessfuly with Toshiba UK for the school I am advising - the best Tosh could do was a 5 day turn around - which in my view is totally unacceptable and they need to get their act together)

So, ask for a pool of spare machines say 3, on an order of 40, to be held at the school

I also get training for my own technicians thrown in and look at the other value added stuff they have to offer. Tosh and Fujitsu sponsor teachers from my school at national and international conferences.

I do not recommend lease to buy - been there, done that! There is usually a residual cost which depends on market value at the 3 year point and can be a nasty sting in the tail. For sixth formers who have 2 years of school to go who want to have a laptop that will see them through Uni as well - I would negotiate a bulk purchase deal with your reseller that gives them the same level of support/warranty/insurance etc while they are at the school which just cuts out when they leave (deleting all the school software of course)

Finally - I get all the big players bidding for my business each year so I get to road test all the main brands and we take them apart on the bench etc - but every year it comes down to a three way decision between IBM, Tosh & Fujitsu. IBM is a great machine but they don't seem to understand what schools need and their support is not as good as the competition - but they are working on it. We always put support first in choosing our machine and that would be my advice to anyone seeking to commence a programme.

I have a full time coordinator of the notebook programme (the paper work is huge) and a ratio of 1 technician per 300 machines, which is barely enough.

If you would like to discuss management strategies for your programme, everything from laptop pedagogy and inset to software trouble shooting and building images you can drop me an email anytime.

Cheers

Tony

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