We’re a single gender selective academy of 1200+ kids in rural Lincolnshire, and, for a confluence of reasons, have been one of the poorest funded schools in the country in recent years. We’re well versed in the habit of making every penny count.
In that regard, discovering ICT Direct as a supplier has been a godsend.
Like every school, COVID-19 has put particular pressure on our budgets as we pivoted to supporting a whole new method of teaching, often at a moment’s notice. We hadn’t previously provided laptops for staff, preferring desktops in classrooms, and suddenly sourcing the quantity we needed was challenging given that the rest of the world was trying to do the same thing. ICT Direct, however, not only had high quality stock available, they had it at cheaper prices, allowing us to get 50% more laptops for our money.
Furthermore, the support offered gives us complete confidence in buying this refurbished stock: if something is wrong, it’s immediately resolved with no quibbles. The quality of the provided equipment is frequently indistinguishable from new, and the included two-year warranty is greater than that offered with new purchases.
It’s not just been laptops through COVID-19 that ICT Direct have supported us with, though that’s been the most dramatic example of how they can help. We’ve been using them for years before that for smaller purchases of laptops, for example supporting SEN students with small Lenovo X230s that are perfect for carrying about through the day and sturdy enough to survive the depredations of school students.
We’re also in the habit of purchasing all our monitors from them, which illustrates the other benefit to purchasing refurbished ex-lease kit: the quality and class of equipment.
A 22in 1080p consumer monitor can be bought from Amazon etc. for around £75 ex VAT, but these devices are absolutely entry level: VGA only input, low contrast ratio, non-adjustable stand. They’re not acceptable for all-day, every-day office use, not if you have any concern for the health & safety of your co-workers. ICT Direct’s 1080p 22/24in monitors, on the other hand, are not a great deal cheaper on the face of it, but the equipment offered is proper business class kit, with fully adjustable stands (height/tilt/pivot), multiple connections, bright backlights with high contrast and accurate colours. If you compare like-for-like the saving is still significant, but value for money is not simply about what’s cheapest, it’s about what’s best for the money. In that regard, the business class of device offered by ICT Direct is unbeatable.
Similarly on laptops: the equipment provided will generally be Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell Latitude etc., and the difference in the chassis from the consumer equipment available on Amazon is night and day. They’re not only far sturdier–an essential characteristic in schools–they’re much easier to repair, with easy access to internal components for replacement/upgrade. From an IT Support perspective, buying this class of equipment often feels like a gift to yourself as much as to the intended end user!
The warehouse is an Aladdin’s cave of wonders, and Dave and John’s knowledge of their stock is, well, a little sad to be frank–you can throw any problem at them and they will come back to you with a cost-effective option that hadn’t even occurred to you (a cheap iPad mini to help with the COVID-19 testing regime in school? Yes please!)
Through recent years our spend with ICT Direct has increased annually as it’s become harder and harder to ignore the savings on offer and the quality of the equipment and service. Computing power has been adequate for most school tasks for years, now, so slightly older specification components are never a burden; conversely, the savings and quality have been a consistent boon. My only hesitation in recommending them is that it will increase competition for the best stock!
Matt Dovey – IT Network Manager