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laptop vs notebookBoth the terms laptop and notebooks are being used quiet interchangeably these days. It is so confusing for consumers that they don’t know which is which. The fact that even manufacturers sometimes use the term interchangeably makes this only worse. In truth these two terms are not the same. They refer to two different types of products and for two different applications altogether. While laptops are more for replacing traditional desktop computers in a more portable form, notebooks are meant to be lightweight incarnations of portable laptops. So, it is incorrect to use the terms interchangeably. Though you are right to say that all Notebooks are laptops the opposite is not correct. Apple manufactures some of the most popular Notebooks available. MacBook Air is one of them. The first one that saw the light of day had a 13.3” monitor.

Learn more about using an Apple computer here.

In this discussion we shall look deeper into Laptops and Notebooks as well as figure out which one to pick depending in your usage. We shall also learn how to identify correctly a notebook and how to differentiate it from a laptop.

The concept of personal portable computing began almost at the same time when the notions of a viable personal computing device first took concrete steps. Dynabook, a concept that can be rooted as the first idea ever to have been conceived about a feasible personal mobile computing device, was made by Alan Kay. But it was no until the launch of Osborne 1 that the idea of commercially produced portable computers materialized into a concrete form. Laptops or portable computers were designed so that they can be a replacement for the standard desktop computers. As technical innovation kept unfurling new achievements for the human intellect laptop computers found themselves at threat from faster and even more mobile devices.

The Weight Factor and Dimensions

One distinguishing factor between Notebooks and Laptops is their difference in weight. Notebooks are invariably lighter when compared to even the lightest of laptops. These are sometimes also referred to as subnotebooks to imply that they are not meant to be as powerful as standard laptops.

Ergonomics, convenience and design are also a giveaway that you are looking at a notebook and not a laptop. A notebook would be a lot thinner. It would be made up of less powerful processors. Though, this difference has in recent years become somewhat less obvious as improvements in technology has made it possible to manufacture thinner laptops, as well as faster, and more powerful notebooks have come on to the market which can be compared with laptops.

Monitor Size

Laptops which are designed to be replacements for desktop computers tend to retain all of the features of a traditional computer minus the bulk. A laptop would thus have a large monitor often as large as 17” and beyond. The Origin EON17-SLX has a 17.3” screen and so does the Alienware 17 which has a 17” screen and also boasts an 18” version. Both these laptops are designed to be superfast and capable of handling resource constraining softwares with ease. In fact the second of the above two laptops is widely regarded as one of the best gaming laptops around.

Notebooks on the other hand are much more humble in terms of monitor dimensions. The largest of the lot has a 14” monitor size and a bulk of them have monitor size much smaller to that. This is obviously to ensure that the weight of the notebook does not go beyond the limits of portability.

However, on a different note, Intel has been trying to encourage its manufacturing partners to make Notebooks that have a larger screen size than the current 14”.

CD/DVD Drive

A laptop will invariably have a DVD or a CD drive apart from a number of USB ports for connecting peripherals and or inserting storage media. Since USB ports have become ubiquitous with portable computing devices, every peripheral and external storage mediums support those. In order to make Notebooks portable and light weight it was necessary to eliminate DVD drives. However you can always plug an external DVD drive using the USB port.

The requirement of integrated drives and other connectivity has evolved over the years. When the Osborne 1 was introduced back in 1981 it had no battery but two floppy drives. Cut to the 2014 and it is a standard for every laptop to have a DVD drive and several USB ports.

Ultrabooks – What on Earth are they?

The market has seen the launch of a number of new portable laptop like clamshell designs which are termed as Ultrabooks. In fact, the term Ultrabook is a trademark owned by Intel. Ultrabooks are powered by processing units which are just as powerful as traditional laptops. But these are essentially notebooks so to reduce their bulk and make them more portable smaller and lighter components are used. Additionally, optional devices are ignored. As such an Ultrabook will have most likely SSD (Solid State Devices) Hard drives, no optical drives and several USB ports to allow plugging in external peripherals and devices. You may also find models which have no Ethernet ports.

What is the Future of Laptops?

Well the immediate future does not seem to be that bleak and that is in spite of the surge in the sales of notebooks, Ultrabooks, tablets, phablets and smartphones. The ultimate convenience of being able to finish a report on the move on MS Excel (learn more with this course), or collaborate with a colleague in Philippines when you are at the airport, or review a work is priceless. Sometimes tablets or smartphones are just not the right thing for the job. Having said that, the trend is towards a lighter and more portable device that can be carried without discomfort and yet take the place of a more traditional laptop in terms of performance. Large sized laptops are slowly getting rarer and rarer these days with a majority of manufacturers moving towards the design convenience of notebooks capable of running the latest OS such as Windows 8, which you can learn to use with this course, and or other software. Even the term laptops is being discontinued by major manufacturers. The trend is towards using the term notebook.

Page Last Updated: June 2014

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