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User Acceptance

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Field experiences have revealed that decision makers, program managers, telecenter operators, teachers and even individuals who have never used a computer before can have strong preferences regarding the selection of computing equipment. Despite savings in the initial investment costs due to the energy efficiency of notebook computers, they can be perceived as expensive, difficult to use and generally inferior to desktop systems. In the case of the off-grid computer lab established at Myeka High School in South Africa (see links at the bottom of this page), for example, school members cited various objections to the use of notebooks, including difficulty of repair, concern about theft, lack of robustness and durability, and teachers' perceptions that notebooks simply were not "proper computers" (Ref.). As a result of these concerns, desktop computers were installed, despite the fact that using notebook computers would have lowered hte cost of the PV energy system used to power it. Since the PV system was donated to the high school, the cost issue was not paramount. For a constrasting perspective, read a case study about solar-powered laptops in rural schools of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In situations where there are strong objections to the use of notebooks, the computer selection process should not be seen as a black-and-white choice between desktops and notebooks. Intermediate solutions can be applied, such as the use of LCD monitors, low-power desktops, and thin client networks. These approaches provide some of the perceived benefits of desktop systems while reducing energy system costs compared to conventional solutions.

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