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Upgrading Teacher Laptops / Issues with TELA

Vincent Ardern (Banned)
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Started by Vincent Ardern 21 Aug 2015 2:04pm () Replies (16)

Hi all

Just for reference this is at Rangitikei College (260 students, 30ish teachers + 15 support staff).

I'm wondering what the thoughts on upgrading TELA laptops are?

The current problem that I'm facing (or perhaps just feel that I'm facing?) is that the hard drives in the base model HP Elitebook 840 (G1 and G2) laptops that we lease are of the spinning variety, rather than SSDs. In addition, these laptops only have 4GB RAM, as configured from TELA.

We are allowed to upgrade them, but we won't have warranty coverage on the upgraded parts. This isn't a problem as RAM always has a decent warranty and we can get 256GB Crucial BX100 SSD drives from PBTech with 3 year warranties (the normal term of our lease).

This means we could spend $140 per laptop to upgrade each laptop to an SSD, or $200 to upgrade to an SSD and 8GB RAM. I have had some users complain that these laptops are slow. I think they expect them to be faster than their old leased Elitebook 8460p's, but they simply can't be without faster storage. Given that TELA laptops are heavily subsidised by the government (currently at $30 per quarter/$360 over 3 years), it's really hard to justify finding the extra budget to upgrade them. An SSD is SO MUCH of an upgrade though. Hmm. I'm not sure what to do. Thoughts?

For what it's worth, we could get 850 G2's going forward as they have fullHD screens and 256GB SSDs built in, but our next lease roll-overs are 6 months away, and that's only 2 laptops.

Thanks, Vincent


  • Shaun Brooker (View all users posts) 21 Aug 2015 3:01pm ()

    Hi Vincent, may not be a hardware issue...every now and then the software build is not good and this slows things down.  Just thinking it would be odd that a 'new' machine would be running slow enough for teachers to complain about their speed.  

    Really, spending that money for SSDs is really hard to justify. 

    I had an issue with some new TELA MacBooks and our techs told us we should spend money and put SSDs in them.  I had them reimaged with a new build and everything was fine!  

    All the best.

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 21 Aug 2015 3:20pm ()

    I have to agree with Shaun.  Spending money on SSD's (a great choice in seek speed) or 8Gb of RAM (even better, as often its program switching/ applications that are slowing down the system) is the last choice.

    Reimaging the OS is free, and always speeds up a system.    The problem is that you'll need an image to copy onto the units, or a disk to manually do it (will take a long with with a disk)

    TELA will reimage it if you ask, and wont charge, however the image they use is bloated with MOE software, and probably wont help the situation.   Each time I get a TELA unit (3 yesterday) I reimage them, and then install our software onto them.  Makes them faster.



  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 04 Oct 2015 4:25pm ()

    I am needing to order three new TELA laptops in the next couple of weeks, and wish to purchase Macbooks as that is what everyone is happy using and meets their needs well.

    Comparing the standard model on option from TELA for teachers (Apple MacBook Air 13.3” laptop, Intel Core i5 (1.6GHz) processor, 13.3" display, 4GB memory, 256GB solid state drive)...

    ...to the next model on offer (Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13.3” upgrade laptop, Apple upgrade option with Intel Core i5 (2.7GHz) processor, 13.3" widescreen Retina display, 8GB memory, 256GB solid state drive)

    ...has me worried about speed. The NZ Apple Store compares these models Only 4GB RAM standard with the TELA base model, compared to 8GB; and 1.6 GHz compared to 2.7 GHz. Our teachers make good use of Pages and iMovie, alongside GAFE, and often have multiple apps open, so I'm hoping this will not slow them to a grind. I'm wondering whether we'll cope for the next 3 years with the lesser RAM and GHz.

    Also, I notice that the base model doesn't have HDMI, but we are still finding ourselves reliant on this with our Ruckus network having some difficulties (we have Apple TVs and are also beginning to use Chromecasts). I guess we'll have to manage without HDMI - it'll provide even more urgency and impetus to get the network sorted out!

    TELA is no longer providing any external DVD drives, so it might pay to have one available for teachers to borrow, too. How are others managing this? I know the technology is becoming outdated...

    Any gems of wisdom that you can contribute to help me understand any other differences here? The price for the upgrade model is half as much again as for the base model ($90.14 per quarter compared to $62.56). We may have to cough up the extra money, for the more 'power' users anyway.


  • MrsB30 (View all users posts) 06 Oct 2015 10:51am ()

    Hi Carol

    I had to make the same decision at the beginning of the year when 5 of our laptops needed replacing. The year before one of our teachers used one of our student Macbook Airs while hers was being repaired. One big thing she noticed was the lack of RAM and it was always out of space and therefore very slow. She was a teacher who used iMovie a lot and had a lot of photos. Based on this, I made the decision to upgrade to the Macbook Pros. I did discuss the pros and cons of both with our principal and we did toy with the idea of buying different ones for different teachers (as some do you iMovie etc more often) but in the end, it was decided to just go with the pros for everyone. We haven't been disappointed! 

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 08 Oct 2015 8:23pm ()

    Thank you so much for your reply. That was what I thought might be the case, as I know the teachers do start to find their computers being slow as the lease ends. Better to start a little further ahead!


  • Vincent Ardern (Banned)
    Vincent Ardern (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 1:32pm ()

    Hi Carol

    With regards to the RAM: It's hard to say if OS X will need more than 4GB of RAM in the near future, but it's impossible to upgrade down the track so I would go with 8GB now (ie, the MacBook Pro models). 

    With regards to the CPU speed: The Air models have ultra low voltage processors whereas the Pro models have normal (CPU suffix is 'M') mobile processors. This means that the base clock rate is drastically different, but the maximum turbo clock rate is actually fairly similar. Translation: Video rendering on the Pro will probably be significantly faster, but single threaded workloads, ie, most other things like web browsing/emails/office work, will be similar in terms of speed.

    Note: The above isn't quite right anymore as it seems the 2015 13" Pro models are now also using 'U' processors, but they still have a similar performance profile to that outlined in italics in the above paragraph.

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 1:50pm ()

    I have always purchased MBP (macbook pros) for teachers, but now get the macbook airs.    This is for the general teacher that DOESN'T do video editing.  Its not about processor speed, but about hard drive and GFX rendering as well as RAM.

    If TELA would sell the 8Gb Macbook air's then they would be fine for video editing.    Macbook pro's would render the final video cut faster, but a matter of minutes doesn't really matter.. 

    On a side note... I just purchased a new 2015 macbook for me.  Can't believe how light, and still powerful it is (not the air, and not the pro model)

    This has the lowest spec (1.2Ghz M processor that can clock up to 2.4Ghz) but the latest solid state drive.  Also a really pathetic intel 500 grafix processor.   But... because it has a fast hard drive, and 8Gb of memory I can run final cut pro (way more powerful than iMovie, so is pretty harsh on laptops that are rubbish)  and my 2015 macbook, is better than my 2012 15" top spec macbook pro.  So.. what??  What does this mean?   Its the combination of hardware that that determines what you will be able to do.

    TELA don't offer the macbook, (yet) and probably never will as they are twice the price of a macbook air..

    So macbook pro's for techie teachers (can upgrade the RAM)

    and macbook air for other teachers. (can not upgrade the RAM)  The RAM on the air is soldered into the main board, so what you get is what your are stuck with.


  • Barrie Matthews (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 2:28pm ()

    Hi Everyone.

    I have a MacBook Air with a Solid State Drive. In my opinion, SSDs are one of the best things to happen to laptops in recent years. I will never go back to a spinning Hard Drive as they are slower, noisier and less robust. Even though spinning HD's tend to be larger capacity, people are storing more data in the Cloud these days so there is less need for local storage. If you are due for a new laptop, I would hold out for one with SSD.

    My machine has 4GB RAM whereas you would probably need 8GB RAM with a spinning HD. Even though my machine is an i5 processor (rather than the faster i7), creating and rendering videos is not a problem although this may also be because it is running on a 64-bit OS. The rest of the LEARNZ team who make videos are using MacBook Pros which are faster still but more expensive. My 5 cents - hope it helps.

    Barrie from LEARNZ

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 2:29pm ()

    Thanks everyone for today's additional input. It's very interesting, and I appreciate your reassurance that my thinking is along the right lines.

    Hamish, I'd agree about the idea of lesser spec computers for the non-techie teachers, except that sometimes those teachers leave and someone else gets that computer, and sometimes those non-techie teachers grow into doing all sorts of interesting multi-media and more processor inte activities. We'll see how the budget holds up....

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 2:35pm ()

    I know what you mean.  But a techie will always be a techie, so no matter what machine they get they will use it to maximum potential.     The difference in price is massive.  We have 14 staff, and if we bought all 14 macbook pro's we could get 34 macbook air's for the same price.   If I was given a macbook air, then I'd still be using video and sound editing with adobe lightroom.   Obviously a macbook pro would be better, but for more than twice the price?   

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 2:46pm ()

    Hmm, they're not twice the price, Hamish (unless I have my wires crossed). More like half as much again... but still that's significant.

    TELA prices are listed here (incl GST)

    Current price per quarter for our older TELA Macbook Pros      $82.37        
    New Base model (Macbook Air 4GB Ram)      $71.94 (ie $10.43 per quarter less than in the past 3 years)
    Upgrade model Macbook Pro Retina   $103.70 (ie $21.33 more per quarter than what we have been paying in the past, and $31.76 more per quarter than the new base price for the Macbook Air)


  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 2:56pm ()

    Sorry Carol, I mean the units total price...  not the TELA contribution.  

    Top spec 15" MBP is almost $5,000... to spec macbook air is just over $2,000

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 12 Oct 2015 3:12pm ()

    Aha. Yes. I was also comparing the retail values of the TELA models, as shown on the NZ Apple Store - $1499, compared to $1999.

    I provide my own Macbook Pro, because I'm part time (0.4) and have previously worked in several different jobs at once for different schools - easier this way and I get what I want and it's MINE.

    I tend to go for much higher spec, with the quality non-reflective screen, and extra RAM. I get the faster processors for video editing. I tend to have several apps on the go at once, and 2-3 browers with LOTS of tabs open. Mult-tasking....

  • Bruce Saunders (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2016 9:58am ()

    This problem of the HP 840 running slow is wide spread at my school. If I have four things open (fairly standard, outlook, browser, kamar, word) it becomes unbearable. Several teachers are reporting this, some with extraordinary login times for Kamar. units are around a year old.

  • David Farquhar (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2016 1:39pm ()

    Can you advise the model 840's your currently having issues with - this might be related to age (G1 and G2 versions) versus currently shipped G3 models. Its also curious its for Kamar sign on.

    Either way, we have solutions available ranging from BIOS updates and patches through to onsite service if you log onto TELA and register the issue. My 840 (G1) works fine with excel, Outlook, Word, Explorer, Chrome and our intranet, so we need to get your team running at speed. Contact me here or direct for other help (I am not technical), but please log with TELA the issue to ensure our technical team get involved quickly.

    All HP school under TELA have full warranty protection for the three year leases of the devices, including on site if required.

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