Sales Engineers - How to Build a fast Demo Laptop

Many SEs get given special treatment when it comes to demoing their products. Sometimes demo laptops are dedicated machines which are only used for that purpose and shared around the office.  Having a high end machine means that it is not a standard device, and here you might consider a Bring Your Own Device policy for sales engineers.

To make sure you can show the product(s) at peak performance, it is good to use a high-spec machine to ensure that typical end-user bottlenecks don't impact on the demo.  Nobody wants to wait for you to reboot your machine, and starting support components like virtual machines should be invisible to the customer. You are demoing your own product, not VMware! A similar thing goes for gamer laptops - while they are powerful, they also don't look like business machines and can distract from your presentation.

Typical machine optimizations might include the following:
  • High RAM - you don't want to be using your swap file
  • Multi-core processors - don't let your processors queue up jobs
  • High end graphics cards - best for multimedia and flashy graphics and high resolution
  • Solid State Drive (SSD) storage - speed up boot time and applications
  • Different form factors - why not demo on a tablet if that makes sense?
You might also consider running a demo image from a cloud based server - to get a high performance back end.  There are cloud based providers like CloudShare and Skytap that offer specialized systems for presales use.

Finally, if you are using this machine for your standard work, make sure it doesn't have too much personalization.  By all means use the latest base OS and supporting applications, but don't confuse your customers with complexity or unnecessary distractions.  Use backgrounds that complement your presentation and not distract from it.

Here are a few suggestions for SE laptops, based on what I have looked at in the market recently.