Recommended Machine (Prescribed Machine)

Each year the committee reviews the models available and selects a range of machines which best offers the combination of support, warranties and value for money, with versatility and robustness. The aim is to prescribe a range of machines from which to choose and to recommend which of these the parent committee feels would be the 'ideal' education machine in terms of features, value for money and support. Thereafter every boy and teacher is required to bring one of the prescribed laptops to school every day. Please note that purchasing an alternative make/model of laptop from an alternate supplier is not an option and we ask parents to respect this decision. Uniformity avoids any “status” issues around computers. Staff can help boys more easily when screen and keyboard layouts are identical and software runs in exactly the same way. It is not necessarily problematic if staff and boys have different machines but nevertheless, it makes sense to recommend a similar machine from a support and economy of scale perspective. Please engage with the committee on if you would like to discuss anything.

The recommended machines needs to be:
  • affordable from a parent and school perspective
  • well supported
  • and a popular choice with boys (Experience informs that if we do not choose something that boys will enjoy, parents are pressurised to purchase other brands that may not meet our high levels of support and standardisation. Therefore the parent committee selects a range of machines from which to choose.)

The minimum specifications are:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 8th Gen 4MB @ 2.2Ghz
  • Memory: 8Gb DDR 2400
  • Hard Disk Minimum: 256gb SSD
  • Display : FHD 1920 x 1080 Non-Touch
  • Graphics : Integrated UHD Graphics 620
  • Windows 10 Enterprise (Parents purchase Windows Home and this is upgraded by supplier using school's SLA)
  • 3 year warranty including accidental drop
  • The school prefers that the machines are warrantied for the full duration of each pupil’s time at Bishops, as that is the only way that the school can ensure that every learner has a working laptop in every class. However, from 2020, becasue of circumstances relating to Covid, the school now accepts a minimum of a three year warranty on the understanding that parents accept that the outsourced help desk is not able to support machines outside of warranty or issue loan units for hardware issues on machines that are out of warranty. Loan laptops are still always available for software issues.

    Generally Bishops chooses specifications that are above those of entry-level machines. This ensures that in the future, our machines are able to run new software, which almost always requires higher specifications. Note also, please, that the specs above refer specifically to laptops, not tablet technology.


    Why do we have a recommended machine and a recommended supplier?

    We are able to negotiate preferential pricing and support agreements. It is essential that every boy brings a device from one of the prescribed suppliers with fully functioning Windows technology to class every day. This puts a real premium on servicing faulty machines. With one type of machine from our selected suppliers we are able to offer fast repair turnaround time, offer prompt servicing and also make stand-by loan computers available at school. It is also important for teachers to know that every machine will cope adequately with any software demands that they are likely to make over the next four years.

    Bishops, as a school, is not positioned to deal with sales, and does not wish to enter into business-type arrangements with parents and boys. Bishops' role is an educational one but we do what we can to exert pressure on suppliers to get the best possible machine at the best possible price and thereafter, uphold the support and service guarantees.

    For the past few years our brand comparisons have found Dell to have the most checkboxes ticked in terms of pricing, warranty period and support at the campus. At this stage only Dell is able to offer one day turnaround and requisite warranties for new machines.

    Apple machines, supplied by Digicape, are also an option as Digicape have put in place a suitable support solution.

    A reconditioned Dell machine is also an option. This machine comes with a 3 year warranty and an optional upgrade in the 4th year. Hardware faults that fall under the warrranty will result in the machine being swopped out for another Dell reconditioned machine from the pool of replacement machines supplied by Universe Direct and held at the onsite HelpDesk. Damage done to the machine that is not covered by warranty would be for the parent's own account. A list of estimated component prices are attached here.

    Why shouldn’t I purchase a machine that is cheaper than the recommended machine?

    Policy is that all parents buy the recommended new machine or the recommended reconditioned machine. This is explained in the admissions process prior to acceptance to the school.

    Parent committees of prior years recommended that the school make this policy for the following reasons: There may be cheaper machines available. However, many of these are at the end of their product cycle and so guaranteeing service levels for five years is problematic. In addition, the school environment is tough on machines as boys are opening and closing them every forty-five minutes when moving between classes. Cheaper machines may be less robust and /or not upgradeable. The parent committee would not be able to advise whether a cheaper model would suffice for the full four years and beyond. Another machine, within the chosen brand range may in theory be able to be supported through the onsite help desk, but may not be suitable for the environment.

    Our experience has also shown that only a minority of parents take up the recommended machine offer when it is the most basic one available as the boys are not satisfied with the choice. The committee generally recommends a range of machines from which to choose.

    Why might I find a cheaper price for the recommended machine on the Internet?

    Check the full details of the machines on offer and ensure they are the same as those offered through the recommended supplier. Bishops requires prescribed machines to carry a five year international warranty so that parts are covered for the majority of the boy’s time at school. (This obviously applies to normal warranty conditions, not careless or malicious damages.) More often than not, warranty periods quoted only allow for one year. The committee ensures that the negotiated price is the best one possible and the new Dells include five year warranties, next business day support and accidental cover.

    There is only one brand able to offer next business day support in South Africa for 5 years and that is Dell. All Dell’s Latitudes are sold via preferred partners. The selected supplier for new Dell machines is a Dell Preferred Partner that obtains the same preferred pricing as all other Dell suppliers. They are completely transparent with regard to pricing and they are charging a 2% mark-up on their cost price (invoices available on request).

    Within the Dell brand there are 4 ranges currently (Inspiron, Vostro, Latitude and XPS). The Latitude range is a robust business quality machine and is the only in the range with a 5 year warranty. These ranges have the same model numbers, so make sure you are comparing the price with a Latitude model machine and not a Vostro or Inspiron.

    The 5 year NBD support extended warranty as well as the accidental damage for new Dell machines is the main differentiator that probably will not be included in other pricing.

    Please ensure that you have all these specifics covered when comparing prices.

    We are confident that, having had extensive discussions with both suppliers and understanding the detailed workings of the supply chain, this solution is the most cost effective available.

    For new Dell machines, please contact the awarded supplier, iSquared, should you have any questions regarding price:

    Apple machines, supplied by Digicape, are also an option as Digicape have put in place a suitable support solution:

    For reconditioned Dell machines, please contact the awarded supplier Universe Direct :

    May I purchase the same brand but a different model to the recommended machine?

    No. Policy is that all parents buy the recommended machine. This is explained in the admissions process prior to acceptance to the school.

    Only certain ranges of the prescribed machines can be adequately supported in the school environment. Although we are able to support other prescribed machines in terms of having qualified people on site to manage the initial diagnostic and report process (in the same manner as the recommended machine), there is an administrative overhead that negatively impacts on service levels and that can disrupt the academic programme. The benefits of uniformity and optimal turnaround times led to the decision of prescribing machines.

    May I purchase the same brand and model from an alternate supplier?

    No. Policy is that all parents buy the recommended new machine or a reconditioned machine from the awarded supplier (s). This is explained in the admissions process prior to acceptance to the school.

    May I upgrade the recommended machine offer?

    Certain additional extras or options may be offered at the time of purchase. These would be advertised.

    May I buy a different make of machine?

    No; Only prescribed machines will be accepted.