My school bought a few class sets of laptops recently. The whole point of having laptops instead of another computer lab was so they could be used more flexibly around the school, but the obvious problem was how to store and transport them from room to room.
I’d seen classroom laptop trolleys on the market but none of them seemed to be exactly what we were after. The main laptop trolley maker in the Australian market appears to be PC-Locs from Western Australia, and although their products look ok, in my opinion they are hugely overpriced for what they are. For our 15 laptops we would have had to buy their 20 bay model, and at just over $5000 each they seemed outrageously expensive! I’d had a number of conversations with them on the telephone, but they were pretty firm on their pricing and there was no way I was going to pay that sort of money for a few pieces of welded steel and some rubber wheels, so this was a business deal that was clearly never going to happen. I even rang them on a couple of different occasions because I was so incredulous about the price and doubted that I was getting the correct quote for the unit I was looking at in the brochure. I was.
So I started to shop around to see what other alternatives existed. I found a company in Ingleburn in Sydney that made a pretty basic unit that housed only 10 computers. It was nearly $2000 and of course it didn’t fit our 15 units anyway.
I even considered making my own… I mean, I can weld, and how hard could this actually be anyway?
Then I decided to try turning to the wisdom of the crowds… I dropped a question to the OzTeachers forum asking the following question…
I was wondering if anyone on this list has any experience with portable laptop trolleys? We have a three class sets of 15 laptops and I am interested in a trolley system to share them between classrooms. So we need to get three trolleys…
I have looked at some of the products from PC Locs in WA, and although the products look ok the prices are completely over the top IMHO. Their 20 laptop trolley retails for around $5000 and seems outrageously expensive to me for what it is… (a few pieces of steel welded together and four pneumatic wheels! I’m oversimplifying I know, but I just can’t see $5000 worth of parts, labour and profit margin in it.) http://www.laptoptrolleys.com/
I saw another one from a company called Process Systems from Ingleburn in Sydney that was cheaper but looked really clunky, plus it only held 10 computers. http://www.process-systems.com.au/computer_trolleys.html
An american company called Loxit makes a nice looking unit, but they have no pricing on their website and they have not returned any of my emails to date. http://www.loxit.com/
Are there any others out there that you know of?
So, my question is do any of you use laptop trolleys, and if so what brand/type did you go with? Do you find them a useful method for storing, transporting and charging bays of laptops? Are there any pitfalls I should be aware of? Where do I find a good one at a fair price? How can I find a good quality product that does the job I need without having to take out a second mortgage, sell a kidney or promise my first-born child to the devil?
I got a number of replies from people, all offering suggestions about their trolley experiences, and some even offered to sell me theirs because they really didn’t like them too much. From what I could see, there were not many alternatives on the Australian market.
I thought there HAD to be a better solution at a reasonable pricepoint so I kept looking. Eventually, through an online contact, I found a guy in Hong Kong called Marco, whose company made a very nice looking unit. We swapped a few emails and he sent me some photos, and we negotiated a price we were both happy with. It was a bit of an exercise in faith when I went to see our school business manager to tell him I had negotiated a deal with a guy in Hong Kong, but he went along with it and we now have two very nice laptop trolleys that are exactly what we were after and at a price less than half what the PC-Locs people were asking. I’m very happy with the deal, and the trolleys are really well engineered and well made.
Lessons learned through this experience….
- Hold out for what you really want. Don’t compromise.
- It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
- The wisdom of crowds can open new doors for you.
- Sometimes you just have to trust people.
- There is a real business opportunity in well made, reasonably priced laptop trolleys!
Move those Laptops by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.