What is the best laptop to get when learning to become a medical transcriptionist?

by on February 9, 2011

Q: I am about to start my certification for medical transcription and want a laptop to do my work. It does not have to be the lightest weight laptop available, just light enough so it’s possible to take it places, on an airplane for example. I don’t think the lightest ones would be enough for this kind of work anyway.

I’ll need minimum requirements 2 gig of memory and 40 gigs of hard drive space. So, 2 gigs memory, 80 gigs hard drive at least. And more would be great.

I needs to be XP, cannot use Vista. I was curious about the MacBook Pro and if it would be OK to use the dual operating system for Windows…or since I really do need an XP based system if I should just stick with a PC?

This is what needs to be stored on the computer: Medical transcription software (about 4 different programs). These are Word-based programs.
Also word expander programs (e.g. Shorthand). Also Outlook Express (most communication with the companies is done by e-mail).

Some other things:
I need to connect to high-speed Internet access. Not dial-up.

I need to be able to plug a regular keyboard and mouse into the computer as the small keyboard that comes with a laptop would be hard to use for this work (it’s constant typing for 8 hour shifts).

Most of the time, I won’t want to run it on the battery. I don’t want to work on an airplane, outside, etc. I just want to be able to bring it with me, and use it wherever I can get high speed Internet access(hotel room, someone else’s house, etc).

There is also a foot pedal that I have to attach to the computer via USB port. I have 3 pedals but only need to use one at a time although it would be convenient not to have to switch them every time.

So I need USB’s for mouse, keyboard, and foot pedal.

Security is especially important for this work because it’s private information (medical records with people’s names, etc on them). Many MTs do this on laptops so they can be mobile.

Also, what about screen size? Can’t be too tiny or I can’t work comfortably.

I just want to use this for work, surfing net and e-mail, perhaps Microsoft Word, not for gaming.

Can you tell me what kind of laptops would suit my needs and what you would recommend?

5 Responses to “What is the best laptop to get when learning to become a medical transcriptionist?”
    Picked as best answer

    The laptop market is massive, but I can help you get the ball rolling.

    First, let’s talk operating systems. I’m guessing the Windows XP requirement is due to some older software you’re required to use for work. Your best option would be a laptop running Windows 7 Professional edition. Professional edition has a feature called ‘XP Mode’ that allows you to run Windows XP from within Windows 7, so you can run all those old programs.

    Microsoft has some more info available here on that: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/features/windows-xp-mode.aspx

    Current laptops come with a bunch of USB ports, usually at least 3. In the event you need more, just buy a little usb hub and you can connect a whole pile of devices: Example: http://amzn.to/gACFlh

    For security, forget about any junk that comes with the laptop, most of that stuff is useless bullet-points.

    Your best option would be to use TrueCrypt http://truecrypt.org this is free software that can be used to encrypt your entire drive or just a special section. Since this is a laptop, I’d suggest using their full drive encryption. This is the same style of security you’d find on a federal government laptop. Here is a setup guide you might find handy: http://bit.ly/aG6Cbg

    I’d guess you’ll want to go with something with about a 15.6″ inch screen size range. That gives you some portability and a decent screen size. Just about any laptop you find will have a plug for a PC monitor, so if you need more screen space you can always plug it in to an external monitor (you’ll be able to even use both screens at the same time!)

    Any current laptop on the market will have a built in Wireless card and an Ethernet jack so you’ll be able to access any high-speed internet available.

    As far as brands go, I’ve been generally happy with Asus’s current offerings. They do a nice job of not putting too much garbage on their computers, and the build quality is generally pretty nice.

    Check amazon.com and newegg.com for some good prices and reviews on these laptops. If you get narrowed down to a few laptops and you’re having trouble deciding, please post a new question and I can make some suggestions.

    Also, hit some stores and take a look at some laptops in person. Note screen sizes that you like, and other features to help you shop on-line.


    Thanks so much! OK…so I had a look at the Asus and am just having trouble finding the screen size with the memory that I want with a look that I like…what can I say, I’m a girl 🙂 But if you have any recommendations that maybe I’m not seeing, I’m open to them. I did find a HP that I think I like…it’s an Intel Pentium Processor, 4GB mem, and 500GB hard drive…I like the separate number keypad and the look and the reviews are favorable. My question is do you think I’ll be happy with the speed? I’ll strip off the stuff I won’t use and then start adding my software and pictures…will it slow it down tremendously?


    You’d need to post a link to the laptop, otherwise I have no idea what model you’re talking about.


    Looks pretty good to me. Just having software or files on your computer won’t slow it down. But having anything running in the background or automatically loading on startup can. Just keep track of that kind of thing and you’ll be fine.

    Have fun!