Desktops, tablets, netbooks, notebooks, laptops, ultrabooks… HELP!
It seems like every other week a new type of device comes out that will have you all flummoxed! Long gone are the times where having a computer meant having a computer desktop underneath the desk with a mouse, keyboard and monitor connected to it.
There are so many different types of computers available out there that it can be hard to determine what exactly we are looking for. Not to mention is that some companies have trademarked certain names which only adds to the number of different of labels floating around out there.
But don’t worry, here we list a simple guide to all those different types of devices out there.
These are the “old school” (but still just as relevant) computers that Bill Gates once famously (and correctly) predicted would be sitting in almost everyone’s homes. For PCs you have your desktop computer plugged in to monitor with a mouse and keyboard. (Mac desktops combine the computer and monitor into one unit.)
These powerhouses are the only thing on the list that couldn’t be considering “mobile computing”. However, despite the surge of other types of computers, desktops are still as relevant today as they were 15 or so years ago.
Desktops are great for gamers who don’t subscribe to dedicated gaming consoles like the Xbox. High performance desktops will outperform their mobile counterparts, making them ideal for things like graphic design, video, video games and surfing the web at home. They also make it easier if you need a lot of windows open at the same time and you also can benefit from dual (or even triple) monitors running from the same unit, depending on what limitation the graphics card has.
Notebooks & Laptops
Is a laptop a notebook? What is the difference between a laptop and a notebook? What should I get, a laptop or a notebook? These are some of the many questions we’re always hearing, and given the history of these two terms, it isn’t difficult to understand why so many people get confused between them.
Today, there is very little difference between laptops and notebooks. The first popular computer after desktop PCs were laptops. They were the first portable personal computer, but back when they first came out they were often pretty big and bulky (remember your first mobile phone?)
Then came a slightly smaller, lighter (but less powerful) version of laptops, known as notebooks.
However with technology improving, allowing manufacturers to create increasingly slim and lightweight computers, and with the demand for large laptops pretty low, laptops and notebooks began to converge on each other, and these days the terms are pretty much interchangeable.
Traditionalists may say that notebooks are still generally smaller and lighter, but really there is very little difference. Both will generally (but not always) come with a CD drive. They may come with a dedicated graphics chip depending on how much you want to spend, and screen size will usually range from 14” to 17”, with the most common screen size being around 15”.
What’s important is that you make sure that the computer has everything you need before you buy it. Laptops and notebooks may be interchangeable these days, but the range of products available can vary quite a lot.
Repeat after us – “I will not confuse netbooks with notebooks”.
That’s because these are different. Netbooks essentially look like a small notebook (or laptop.) They’re smaller, lighter, usually cheaper and less powerful than notebooks. This makes them extra portable, but there are trade-offs. As we said, they’re usually are not as powerful, and the majority do not have CD/DVD drives. Like notebooks they can connect to the Internet, play video and things like word processing and surfing the Internet. They won’t be that good for high intensity stuff like graphic-intensive gaming or graphics editing.
Netbooks promised to be the next popular personal computer, but with the rise in tablet computing (see next point) and 2-in-1 devices (see 2 points down) the future of netbooks seems uncertain.
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you’ve heard of tablet computers. There is an incredibly large range of tablets available to suit any type of demand. Kid’s tablets, e-readers, top of the line tablets like the iPad, even mini tablets.
Tablets are usually rectangular, slim devices with the display on one side. They’re extremely portable and convenient and yes you can surf the web on them. The range of available tablets varies drastically, and they can be cheaper than a netbook or more expensive than a PC. They also vary a lot in performance, though generally won’t out-perform a decent desktop computer.
And they satisfy a broad range of people, depending on what you buy. For example the Amazon Kindle is (or was) marketed towards bookworms as it was originally an e-reader. The LeapPad tablets are marketed at kids. The iPads are marketed at the gadget aficionado. You also have a high number of tablets that just make mobile computing more convenient than laptops.
Tablets can be used for games, surfing the web, reading books, reading email, word or spreadsheet processing, taking photos, social media and a host of other stuff. What each tablet excels at will depend on what you choose to buy.
Also called convertible laptops or hybrid laptops, these are essentially computers that can turn themselves into either a tablet or a laptop. What you get with 2-in-1 computers range dramatically, and most feature detachable keyboards. Performance wise – they’re often not as powerful as actual laptops, but some high-performers will give some full sized laptops a run for their money. They’re smaller too, often around 10 to 12 inches.
To add to the confusion, many companies use trademarked names to describe products instead of using the generic terms.
Perhaps most popularly this includes the MacBook. This is basically a notebook produced by Apple and runs the OSX software.
The Ultrabook is another with is a term coined by Intel, which again is a notebook but uses an Intel processor and is generally thinner and with a longer battery life.
A Chromebook is another that is essentially a netbook that has the ChromeOS (Google’s operating system) installed and is very reliant on an Internet connection (most programs need Internet to run and there is limited local storage.)