Laptop / Netbook
A Laptop (sometimes called a Notebook
) is a portable computer which includes a built-in screen, keyboard, speakers, and touchpad. It is designed to be compact so that it can be used anywhere and is powered by a rechargeable battery or can be plugged into the mains.
A Netbook is similar to a Laptop but is generally smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient, and inexpensive. They lack an optical drive to help conserve battery life and to keep the computer small and light, and are well suited for browsing the internet and e-mail.
Laptop vs Desktop:
The advantages of a Laptop over a Desktop Computer is that it is more economical and takes up much less room and can be used anywhere. They are powerful enough to run the same operating systems and applications as a Desktop Computer and can even be connected to a full-sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse, if required. Many Laptops also include built in wi-fi, a webcam and a microphone.
The main disadvantage of a Laptop is that besides the System Memory, the Hard Drive, and the battery, it can't really be upgraded like a Desktop Computer. A Laptop is also very compact which makes it hard to keep the components cool and also to have a long battery life. A Desktop Computer is contained in a large box with much better cooling, a more powerful CPU and graphics card, and so will always have a higher performance level than a Laptop of similar price.
Unlike a Desktop Computer there is generally no industry standard form factor for a Laptop or its internal components and each major Laptop manufacturer pursues its own proprietary design and construction. However, the Hard Drive and the System memory are a standard size and can be upgraded on a Laptop.
A Laptop's Hard Drive comes in a 2.5 inch form factor which is smaller than the 3.5 inch Hard Drives found in a Desktop Computer. A standard 2.5 inch Solid State Drive will also fit in place of a 2.5 inch Hard Drive. The System Memory (RAM
) also comes in a standard sized Memory Module called SO-DIMM (Small Outline - Dual In-line Memory Module
) which are smaller than the equivelant Desktop Computer memory modules.
Upgrading a Hard Drive, Solid-State-Drive, and System Memory on a laptop will be covered later in this article although it should be said that upgrading may void the Laptop's warranty. An easier way to upgrade a Laptop is by adding external devices via the USB ports or an expansion card but this may compromise the portability of the Laptop.
A new Laptop will most likely have several USB ports (USB 2.0 or the faster USB 3.0 ports
), a Monitor port such as VGA, DVI, mini-DisplayPort or HDMI, an Ethernet Network port, and Audio ports. There will also be an Expansion Card slot - PCMCIA or the more recent ExpressCard.
Laptop Specification and buying a Laptop:
If you want a small and light portable computer with a long life battery for travel or college and only need it for browsing the web, email, and word processing then you might consider a Netbook but if you want a better performing portable computer than you should consider a Laptop (Notebook
If you are looking to buy a Laptop then you should consider the following:
How much are you willing to spend on the laptop?
As with buying any computer it is a good idea to get the best specified computer for your money.
Do you need a long battery life?
If you are mainly using the Laptop near to a mains power socket then you may not need a long battery life but if you are using it on your travels then you might consider a Laptop which has a longer battery life.
What size screen do you want?
The most common screen sizes for a laptop are 13 inches, 15 inches, and 17 inches. A Netbook usually has a smaller 10 inch or a 12 inch screen. If you want to use the Laptop to watch video or play games etc then a 15 or 17 inch screen size would be preferable. A good screen will also let you view it well from an angle. Screens with LED backlighting will also be more economical. You might also prefer a touch screen Laptop running Microsoft Windows 8.
Performance - CPU and Graphics.
If you need a powerful Laptop that can handle the latest games, HD video, and multi-task several programs then you will want a Laptop with a fast high-performance CPU (Central Processing Unit
) and a decent graphics capability. A Laptop CPU has advanced power saving features and may have two or four cores. The video controller may be integrated into the chipset or the CPU but on higher-end Laptop's it may have its own separate graphics processor which is more powerful. A high performance Laptop will be more capable but will likely have a shorter battery life.
Storage space and System Memory.
A Laptop will most likely come with a single Hard Disk Drive (HDD
) and you should buy one with the largest capacity for your money. The Hard Drive is used to store the operating system, programs, and all your personel files such as music and photographs. Today, you can also buy a Laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD
) which performs much quicker than a Hard Disk Drive but will have a much smaller capacity due to the cost of an SSD. It is also a good idea to buy a Laptop with as much System Memory (RAM
) that you can get for your money. The RAM holds all the programs currently running on your computer as well as the operating system so the more RAM you have then the better the Laptop will perform especially when multi-tasking.