From writing reports for school and handling expenses for the home, to playing games, music, or movies for entertainment, computers are pretty much an essential tool for the modern-day lifestyle.
For better mobility and access, people have been using portable computers to perform tasks on a daily basis. If you want to get things done while on the go, your best bet is to get a portable computer. However, this is easier said than done when there are literally hundreds of portable computers in the market.
Two of the most popular types of computers in the market are the notebook and laptop. If you are reading this article, then it’s safe to say that you’re wondering which portable system to get.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the notebook vs laptop debate. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each system so you’ll know which one is right for your needs.
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From Wikipedia, the simplest definition of a laptop is:
A laptop is a computer that is easy to carry around. Its user can fold the laptop along its hinge for carrying. The laptop was created mainly for this particular reason. Computer parts were scaled to a smaller size so this could happen.
Basically, laptops are computer systems that are designed for portability. They usually measure less than 3 inches thick, weigh less than 5 pounds, and are powered with a battery. At its core, a laptop is designed to be similar to a desktop computer but only smaller and lighter. It can be placed on your lap, hence the name.
While most people think that laptops are fairly new, they are actually a very old piece of technology. The very first laptop computer, the IBM 5100, was introduced back in 1975. Over time, newer developments in processing power and component size have made these portable systems more practical and functional. In general, laptops are more expensive than desktop PCs since they require smaller components that are more expensive to manufacture.
With a docking station, you can turn a laptop into a desktop computer. The docking station can be used as a hub for peripherals like scanners, printers, external drives, and more. You just have to dock the laptop into the docking station and turn it on. With the right hardware and cables, you can also use the laptop with regular displays.
Pros and Cons of Laptops
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A laptop is a great way to take your work and files on the go. However, it’s far from a perfect system. Below are some of the pros and cons of laptop computers.
- Portability – This is one of the more obvious reasons why people love having a laptop. A laptop computer gives you the components of a desktop PC but is packed into a portable package that you can take just about anywhere. With a laptop, you can get some serious work done while on the move, when you’re away from the office, traveling, or just working a different desk. The compact design and lighter weight make a laptop such an obvious choice for those who are looking for a portable system.
- Lesser space – Related to its portable nature, a laptop takes considerably less space than a full-featured desktop system. Due to the smaller components and design, storing and transporting a laptop is a non-issue. Invest in a good laptop bag and you’re good to go.
- Power – Most portable computer systems have similar core components especially when you refer to the processor, memory, and graphical capabilities. However, the smaller the device, the lesser power it offers. A laptop is the closest thing that you can get to a full desktop machine. In general, laptops are more powerful than other portable systems like notebooks and tablets. For more demanding tasks like video editing or game development, you’re better off with a desktop PC. However, high-end laptops are more than capable of handling such tasks.
- Software – This is another area where laptops tend to excel. While smaller devices like smartphones and tablets have apps, laptop computers pull ahead by supporting full-featured software. For example, productivity suites like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are simply better on a laptop since you have access to the full features. Plus, a portable laptop will have no problem running these programs.
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- Games – While there is no shortage of games for mobile devices, the overall gaming experience is still better on a PC – in this case, a laptop. Units with beefed-up specs or gaming-specific models should be able to run a desktop-quality PC game, granted that it’s not with the same graphical fidelity when you’re playing on a gaming PC. Another advantage is that laptops can install Steam, a massive platform for thousands of games. Plus, you get to play using a keyboard and mouse, or a gamepad if you want.
- Flexibility – Laptops have the distinct advantage of being very flexible. When it comes to peripherals, anything that you can connect to a desktop computer, such as projectors to external hard drives, can also connect to a laptop. Many models come with plenty of ports like USB, HDMI, and many others for connecting peripherals. Also, as mentioned, you are mainly using a keyboard and either a mouse or a touch pad, which makes it easier to type and get things done.
- Cost – Portability means smaller components, which also means higher price since manufacturing these components can be rather expensive. So basically, you are paying more for a unit that is not as powerful as a desktop PC. Many high-end laptops can even cost you up to thousands of dollars. Again, portability comes at a price.
- Difficult to upgrade – Laptops have an integrated design, which means that the parts that you can swap or upgrade are limited. Unlike a desktop PC where you can swap any component for another, the only parts that you can upgrade are the memory and hard disk. This is because these are the only parts that are accessible to the user. Every laptop has its own proprietary design and construction, so upgrading or swapping parts is not that easy.
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- Difficult to customize – On a related note, a laptop is never a machine that can be customized to one’s requirements. Most, if not all, laptops are pre-made with set specifications and components. The best thing that you can do is to choose a laptop with specifications and hardware that closely meet your needs. Unlike on a desktop where you can customize each part from the display down to the cooling fans, laptops simply offer little to no freedom for such complex customizations.
- Difficult to repair – As mentioned, only the hard drive and memory are readily accessible in a laptop. So if your laptop breaks down, the best course of action is to take it to a certified repairman. On top of that, turnaround time for a laptop repair is around 48 hours, which can be an issue if your unit is your main productivity machine. And did we mention that repairs can be very expensive as well?
- Vulnerable to damage – Most laptops have a thin form factor, which means that the material used can be rather flimsy. To put it simply, laptops are not very durable and are highly susceptible to being damaged. Due to their portable nature, they are very prone to being dropped, stepped on, sat upon, rained on, and just about anything that can happen to a highly mobile device. Once a laptop is damaged, there’s a good chance that it will not survive.
- Highly insecure – We’re not talking about viruses and malware. Laptops are insecure because they can be stolen easily due to their portable small size and lighter weight. Once your laptop is stolen, you’re not just losing a $600 device: There’s also the danger of identity theft, which is more valuable for most criminals.
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What makes a portable computer a notebook? Well, it used to be that laptop computers were also referred to as notebooks. However, these days, notebooks have become a thing of its own and are now somehow different from a laptop.
Technically, notebooks are smaller in size when compared to a laptop.
Notebooks are designed to enable you to do computer work while on the go and still have enough power to handle other tasks like listening or viewing multimedia files. Notebook computers are also extremely light and small in size which, of course, offers better portability when compared to a laptop.’
Many people refer to the notebook as a “mini laptop.”
Pros and Cons of a Notebook
- Ultra portability – As mentioned, notebooks have a thinner and lighter profile, which make them a better option than a laptop when it comes to portability. Some good examples are the ASUS Flip notebook that only weighs 2 pounds and a screen size of 10.1-inch, and the Lenovo IdeaPad that weighs only 1.4 pounds with a 10.1-inch screen size. In comparison, many laptops have a 13 to 15-inch screen and weigh about 5 to 6 pounds. When it comes to notebook vs laptop portability, there’s simply no debate.
- Performance – Notebooks are designed to perform the most basic computer tasks, and they do so with little to no problems. From using word processors to web surfing, a notebook has enough hardware under the hood to perform such tasks far better than other mobile devices like a smartphone and tablet. Most notebooks are good enough to handle full software suites like Microsoft Office.
- Games – Now, don’t expect that you can play resource-intensive games like GTA or Call of Duty on your notebook. However, many high-end notebooks have integrated graphics that could be powerful enough to play games that aren’t that demanding. This means that you can possibly play older games or ones that don’t have 3D graphics like Plants VS. Zombies, Peggle, and many others. Nothing to write home about, but it’s good to know that you can play games on a notebook.
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- Good for entertainment – Sometimes, you just need to unwind by listening to music or watch a movie or TV series. A notebook is a perfect multimedia device for playing music/movie files or streaming web content. Since they’re ultra-portable, you can entertain yourself at literally any time. Waiting for someone or your next class? Just fire up your notebook and watch an episode of a TV series or anything that you can find on YouTube.
- Cheaper price – Notebooks are generally cheaper when compared to a regular laptop. This is because most notebooks have less beefy specs and come with less software installed. Most notebooks are used for general computing tasks and web browsing, so many manufacturers can get away with installing lighter applications and less powerful components. You can get a notebook that costs around $250-400, which is great for students or anyone who’s on a budget.
- Good battery life – Many notebooks are optimized for basic computing tasks, so they tend to have a higher battery life when compared to laptops. Despite having smaller batteries, a notebook can have a battery life up to 10 hours with a single charge. However, manufacturers tend to exaggerate a notebook’s battery life. When looking at a notebook’s battery life, it’s better to check out reviews for real-life statistics about the device’s longevity.
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- Underpowered specs – Notebook computers are generally not suited for all applications and uses. If you’re planning to edit a video or run complex business applications, a notebook might be too underpowered for such uses. While a notebook can run heavier apps, it may not be able to handle running multiple programs simultaneously.
- Too small – While portability is considered the biggest strength of notebooks, it can be their downside as well. For instance, notebooks tend to have a smaller keyboard and a built-in trackpad, which can be uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time. Sure, you can add a keyboard and mouse peripheral, but what’s even the point of getting a notebook then? Also, squinting into a 10-inch screen while typing on a miniature keyboard is never a comfortable experience.
- Lesser features – Many features offered by a desktop PC or laptop may be limited or even unavailable on a notebook. This is because most notebooks have lesser computing capabilities and don’t meet certain power requirements.
- No room for upgrades – Just like with laptops, notebooks are not exactly known for their upgrades. They are sold in a pre-assembled state with fixed specs and hardware. If you want a faster processor or perhaps a new GPU card, you are out of luck.
- Susceptible to damage – The thinner profile and smaller size can work against a standard notebook because these “advantages” make the device prone to damage. Even a minor drop or bump can lead to a cracked case or damaged display, or both. Since users have limited access to a notebook’s internal components, you have to take it to a service technician for repairs.
- Can be easily stolen – Like all things portable, a notebook can be an attractive target for anyone who’s up to no good. While they’re relatively inexpensive (at least when compared to a laptop), the criminal can still access most of the personal information on your machine, which is more costly than losing a few hundred dollars.
Notebook Vs Laptop: Which is Better?
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Now, that we have presented the pros and cons of both a notebook and laptop, you are probably asking which system is better.
Well, this is all up to your personal requirements and needs.
As you can see, the main difference between a laptop and notebook is the size. Laptops are basically a portable desktop computer while notebooks, as mentioned, are referred to as “mini laptops.” It really comes down to how you use the portable computer and your budget.
If you want a beefier system that can handle tasks like video editing, playing games with decent graphics, and run more than one application at a time, then we highly recommend that you get a laptop. However, you better have the budget for it since laptops can be quite expensive, especially the models that pack more power under the hood.
On the other hand, if you simply want a small, mobile companion that you can use for doing basic computing tasks, browsing websites, and checking social media accounts, then the small price tag of notebooks is simply hard to beat. Just keep in mind that notebooks are not designed to handle intensive computing tasks and multi-tasking.
So assess your needs and decide accordingly. Regardless of your choice, you’re sure to find a reliable mobile companion that will help you get things done while on the go.
So, notebook vs laptop: Which portable device do you prefer? We’d love to have a discussion going, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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