What’s new in Tablets and Notebooks for 2014

2014 isn’t turning out to be an earth-shattering year for tablets or notebook laptop computers. However, a number of interesting (and sometimes, terrific) new models have been introduced so far this year – and more are on the horizon. Here’s a look at some of them, categorized by manufacturer.

What's new in Tablets and Notebooks for 2014
What’s new in Tablets and Notebooks for 2014

SAMSUNG
Chromebook 2
The Chromebook 2 was released this spring, and in many ways it puts a new spin on machines running the Chrome OS. It’s large for a Chromebook, with a 13.3 inch screen – there are a few bigger ones on the market, but not with the impressive 1920×1080 resolution of the Samsung. It comes in at just over three pounds, a nice weight for everything you get: a 2.1 GHz eight-core processor, 4 gigs of RAM and full HD capability plus nice extras like a 720p webcam that’s certified for Google Hangouts and an AirDroid web app for managing other devices. It looks good as well (although some feel it’s a bit tacky, with fake leather on its edges). The machine is more expensive (listing just under $400) and has a shorter battery life (about eight hours) than most of its Chrome OS competitors, but it’s as close as you’ll find to a true notebook laptop in a Chromebook. (Samsung has also released an 11-inch version that’s cheaper, but it doesn’t have the resolution or extras of its big brother.)

ATIV Book 9
On the laptop front, Samsung has come out with a new version of the ATIV Book 9 for 2014 and it’s a big step forward – with resolution and battery life among the major improvements in this latest model. The 15.6 inch, 1920×1080 display is noticeably brighter than in the past, and provides true HD far superior to the previous ATIV Book 9; it also allows for wide-angle viewing that wasn’t previously possible. As for battery life, this model averages an impressive 14 hours and you won’t find much better. You can store a lot of data with the Book 9 2014 model, with dual SSDs allowing for more than a gig of hard drive storage; it also comes with 8 gigs of RAM. Audio capability has been improved for 2014, with an SPlayer and a Wolfson DAC chip. At just over four pounds and carrying a price tag of anywhere from $1500-$2000, it’s a premium machine for premium performance.

Galaxy Note
Samsung has updated its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet for 2014, but a new addition to their product line has drawn the most interest. It’s the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, a tablet that almost seems to be a laptop because of its size and price (between $750 and $850 depending on whether you choose the 32 or 64GB model). It should also be noted that only WiFi capability is available right now; an LTE version is due this summer. Size aside, the Note Pro 12.2 outperforms the smaller models, mostly because it includes a better version of Android, is equipped with USB 3.0 and is able to remotely connect to a computer. For 2014 Samsung has improved the viewing experience on all of their Note tablets, switching to a TFT LCD display that’s not as bright as previous editions but shows detail much better on the 2560×1600 screen.

LENOVO
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The ThinkPad laptop has come a long way since its IBM days, and Lenovo has outdone itself in rebuilding it for 2014. Both the outside and inside have undergone big makeovers this year resulting in a beautiful 14-inch machine with terrific performance. Chief among the improvements to the X1 Carbon is the use of Intel’s newest dual-core processor, the i5-4200U with integrated HD 4400 graphics. Not only does that mean more processing power and a vastly improved display, but longer battery life as well. One disappointment is that a 1600×900 display is standard, but 2560×1440 WQHD is available as an upgrade. On the outside, this machine is much more solid than its predecessors, due to the use of a different carbon polymer in its construction; it feels lighter than in the past, but will hold up to wear a lot better. Two smaller changes worth mentioning is that the 2014 version no longer has trackpad mouse buttons and that the keyboard has only five rows of buttons rather than six. That may take a bit of getting used to, but doesn’t really detract from the performance of this terrific ThinkPad.
N20 and N20p Chromebooks
Lenovo has finally decided to move into the huge consumer chromebook market, with its first models due in the summer of 2014. The N20 and N20p will be very similar; the major differences will be that the N20p will come with a touchscreen, and will be hinged so that it can flex 300 degrees allowing you to tuck the keyboard behind the screen (but not 360 degrees, so you can’t use it in “full tablet” mode). It will be stylish (looking much like an IdeaPad Flex) but apparently won’t break much ground under the hood, with a quad-core Celeron processor, 16 GB/4GB of storage, and an 11.6 inch 1366×768 display. Connectivity should be one of the N20p’s strong points, though, with both 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 in order to make WiFi video conferencing a selling point for this machine. Retail price is expected to be around $329, quite a bang for the buck if this chromebook performs to its promise.

ThinkPad 10 Tablet and Yoga Tablet 10HD+
The Lenovo ThinkPad 10 is due out in early summer and looks like it could be a winner. It’s a solid, yet slim and light 10-inch tablet that runs full Windows applications with a lot of power. It uses a quad-core Intel processor which still allows for a 10-hour battery life, according to Lenovo. Noteworthy in the ThinkPad 10 is an active digitizer, which should provide better “digital writing” performance than the iPad. It will be easy to connect this tablet to a ThinkPad dock with HDMI, USB and Ethernet ports, as well as to an optional keypad, in essence turning a nice tablet into a full notebook laptop. The tablet is expected to launch at $599 (without accessories).
This summer will also see the debut of Lenovo’s new-and-improved Yoga Tablet 10HD+. They’ve taken the positives of the old Yoga tablet, including impressive battery life and a low price, and added a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and doubled the RAM to 2GB. They’ve also bumped the screen resolution up to 1920×1200 (it used to be 1280×800), improved the on-board camera from five to eight megapixels and moved it to the center of the tablet’s screen where it belongs. Despite all of the improvements, the list price should still only be $349, $50 more than the old model – not a bad price for what this tablet should be able to do.

HP
Pavilion x360
Available now but due for a full roll-out later this summer, HP’s Pavilion x360 is primarily aimed at the convertible laptop market, equipped with a hinge that lets you use it as a laptop or tablet-style. However, it’s priced more like a tablet with a price in the $400 range – and in order to be priced so low, it leaves much to be desired in terms of performance. The processor is a dual-core Bay Trail-style Pentium N3520, more suited to a tablet than a notebook laptop; the display is just 720p, lower than most users would expect in a convertible. The Pavilion x360 comes fully equipped in terms of necessities and nice add-ons like WiFi, Bluetooth and Beats audio, and is striking in its appearance. It remains to be seen, though, whether HP can successfully serve the convertible market at a tablet price.

Slatebook 14
Later this year, HP is expected to release an interesting new machine, a 14-inch touchscreen notebook that won’t run Chrome, but Android instead – an odd choice, since most of the world is moving to Chrome for this type of machine, with Android mostly confined to the tablet world (with the exception of a machine from Lenovo). Not a lot is known about the new Slatebook 14 yet, but word is that it will come with a quad-core Tegra processor, 1080p, HDMI output and Beats Audio. It supposedly will also be fully-certified for GMS (Google Mobile Services). There is no target release date or expected price available yet.

HP 7 Plus and HP 8 Tablets
New this spring is HP’s effort to hit the very bottom of the price ladder with an Android tablet: the HP 7 Plus. Performance is certainly not the selling point when it comes to this device; it has a 1 GB quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 2 megapixel (rear) and 0.3 megapixel (front) cameras, a 7-inch 1024×600 display, about four hours of battery life and mono sound. But it’s pretty well built, and it’s certainly the only name-brand tablet you can find on the market for $99.99. It even beats the HP 8, which was also introduced this year at a $170 price point; it also runs on a Chinese quad-core processor with a 1024×768 display just under 8-inches, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of expandable storage, seven hours of battery life and stereo sound. They’re both what they promise to be: cheap Android tablets.

ElitePad 1000 G2 and ProPad 600 G1 Tablets
At the higher end of the HP product line, several updated products are either on the market or on the way for mid-2014. The ElitePad 1000 is a sleek and pleasing 10.1-inch business tablet with Windows 8.1 Pro, running on an Intel Atom Bay Trail 64-bit quad-core processor with some of the best connectivity options available on a tablet. The 1920×1200 screen has been improved and USB 3.0 has been added. It’s priced around $800 with an optional docking station with all the bells and whistles you’d expect. The ProPad 600 G1 is an Atom-powered tablet quite similar to the old ElitePad 900, except it isn’t as pretty and doesn’t have as many accessories. No pricing is available yet.

APPLE
MacBook Air
There are only tweaks – but good ones – to the MacBook Air for 2014, the two major ones being processor and price. All of the newer models are now running on an Intel 1.4GHz dual-core processor, as opposed to the 1.3GHz processor found in 2013 models. Prices have also come down an average of about $100 for all models this year, which is certainly welcome. All other specs, including 4GB of storage and 128GB or 256GB of flash storage, remain the same in 2014.

iPad Air, iPad Pro and iPad Mini
The latest version of the iPad (which was actually released at the tail end of 2013 but still sets the standard for 10-inch tablets) is the iPad Air, and it’s a terrific update for this ubiquitous device. It’s much thinner and lighter, has the Retina screen but with better visibility from a steep angle (along with stereo speakers), and the Apple A7 64GHz chip (used in the iPhone 5s) boosts battery life while improving processing power dramatically, for only around $500 as a starting price. Rumors say a new version of the iPad Air with an A8 chip, 8 megapixel camera and fingerprint scanner, is expected late in 2014. An even larger version of Apple’s tablet, the iPad Pro with screen size of around 13-inches and either 2K or 4K screen resolution, is also rumored to be close to release, possibly in the fall of 2014. There’s rampant speculation about whether there will be a new version of the iPad Mini released sometime this year; several insiders say not to expect it, with the iPad Pro and the new iWatch taking priority in Apple’s development chain.

MICROSOFT
Surface Pro 3
In an attempt to compete with Apple, Microsoft is introducing its Surface Pro 3 in 2014. The device is actually designed to fit the “tablet that can replace a laptop” market, so the best comparison might be to the upcoming iPad Pro; the Surface Pro has a 12-inch, 2160×1440 screen and Intel chips from the ultrabook class, so its display and performance will come closer to that of a MacBook Air than an iPad Air. Its onboard memory and accessories are more like those of comparable laptops than tablets, as is its weight (when keyboard and accessories are included) – and its anticipated price. The Surface Pro 3 is due to market in mid-2014.

2014’s Hottest Trends for Computers and Mobile Devices

2014 won’t be viewed as a watershed year for computers, tablets or smart phones – the year’s trends are more incremental than groundbreaking. There’s no new product like the iPhone or iPad which will take the market by storm. Even so, the major trends this year will still be important, because most will bring solid improvements to the end-user experience.

2014’s Hottest Trends for Computers and Mobile Devices
2014’s Hottest Trends for Computers and Mobile Devices

Here’s a look at what you can expect to see happening on the laptop, desktop, tablet and smartphone fronts throughout the rest of 2014.
Notebooks and Laptops

1. Convertibles and Sliders
More portables than ever will be of the convertible or slider variety. Convertibles are machines which look like traditional notebook laptop computers, but when you maneuver them (usually by folding or twisting them) they take on a tablet-like appearance, and function with the keyboard hidden and a touchscreen used as the main control device. Sliders are similar, but instead of twisting the screen and keyboard, you simply slide the components to convert from notebook to tablet mode.
This change is primarily being driven by the apparently unstoppable popularity of tablets. The tech analysis firm Canalys projects that a full 50% of all “computers” sold in 2014 will be tablet devices, so manufacturers are trying to ensure that their other product lines, like notebooks, aren’t completely abandoned by consumers. The way they’re doing that is to combine the greater computing power of netbooks with the ease of use and popular functions of tablets. Many feel convertibles could be the best laptops for college students since they would do everything required for schoolwork and still be flexible enough to be used for social networking.

2. Touchscreens
The move toward convertibles in order to compete with tablets is one major reason why more notebooks sold in 2014 will have touch screens – more than 10% of all laptops already had the screens by the start of the year and analysts believe that number will double by the end of the year.
There’s a big company behind the move toward touch screen laptops as well, and its name is Intel. Most manufacturers try to label their products as netbooks these days because of the public’s acceptance and use of that term. However, the brand name “Netbook” is actually owned by Intel and the company sets specific standards which must be met before any manufacturer can use the name. This year, those standards require a touch screen interface, so any company wishing to market a new “Netbook” model in 2014 must equip it with a touchscreen.

3. 3-D Cameras
One of the more interesting developments this year is the appearance of the first 3-D camera systems for notebook laptops (as well as tablets). There have been rudimentary attempts to include this capability in the past, but the cameras were so large that they were basically unworkable. The new systems will be much smaller and will have two lenses, which will allow users to create visual effects only possible until now on desktop machines with advanced graphic capabilities. With the 3-D functions, users will be easily able to perform tasks like superimposing animated or static graphics, or “greenscreening” a body onto different backgrounds.

4. USB Power
One of the conveniences which has become standard for smart phone users is the ability to use just about any USB cable to charge their phone, since just about all smartphones use the same micro USB cable. That’s never been the case with notebooks; each has a different “standard” connector. That is all changing with the advent of USB Power Delivery. This new technology allows laptops to receive not only data, but also power, from a single USB connection. It’s expected to become available late in 2014, and should quickly become standard for both notebook laptops and larger tablets.

Desktop Computers
1. Tabletop PCs

Laptops aren’t the only product being squeezed by the monstrous popularity of tablets. The veritable home computer is also seeing important design changes in an effort to keep pace with the trend toward greater use of hand-held devices. These “all-in-one” machines, being called “Tabletop PCs,” not only function as desktops but also act as enormous touch screen laptops or tablets, with screens approaching 30 inches in size. Most interestingly, several users can use the same computer at the same time for different purposes. A number of manufacturers, including Dell and HP, are hoping to have them on the market by the end of 2014.

These aren’t the only home machines which will feature touchscreens; most companies either have started offering them on some models, or will be doing so at some point in 2014. Again, the ubiquity of tablets and smart phones, and the desire of many consumers to use interfaces similar to those on their smaller devices, is driving this conversion to touch screen operation.

2. Android-Powered PCs

Lots of people are now accustomed to doing most of their daily online “chores” on their phone. That means they’ve grown used to the Android operating system. Last year, several companies like HP and Acer started producing notebook (and home) computers based on Android, and that trend will accelerate throughout 2014 with many more laptops and desktops being released with the less-expensive and popular OS. This will allow the companies to price their products below the current average of around $400 for low-end models, while still offering added performance compared to what consumers are accustomed to experiencing on their smart phones. Google is also pushing its own Chrome OS for similar reasons.

Tablets
1. Bigger Sizes

Right now, the iPad has a smaller screen than most of its competitors. It has a screen that’s smaller than ten inches, compared to other popular models which are usually between ten and eleven inches wide. There’s even the Samsung Galaxy Note released in early 2014 which comes in at 12 inches. Later this year, expect Apple to offer a new version of the iPad that’s at least as large as most of the competition’s tablets – and quite likely the rumored XL, a 12- or 13-inch version of the iPad, as well.

That’s not the only bigger tablet on the horizon; with the trend toward increased size, a number of companies will probably be releasing their own larger versions during the year. One is already on the market: a Panasonic Toughpad model that’s a whopping 20 inches in length, aimed primarily at professionals like photographers and architects.

2. An Even Bigger Market

As previously mentioned, it’s projected that tablets will account for more than half of all “computer” sales in 2014. One projection is that 270 million tablets will be shipped during the year, as compared to 221 million in 2013. One reason, other than just the fact that “everyone has to have one,” is their increased use in retail applications. During 2014, it will become more common than ever to order your restaurant food or place your take-out order on a tablet. Expect the devices to make inroads into department stores, supermarkets and other consumer outlets this year as well. Additionally, the year will see a greater number of schools utilizing tablets for instruction (with grades K-6 the fastest growing segment of the market), and many more businesses making bulk tablet purchases as the devices gain wider acceptance in just about all corporate and small business settings.

There will also be more tablet use by people travelling in buses, trains and taxis as 3G and 4G connections, and not just wi-fi, become standard for the devices. Only about one-quarter of all tablets had 3G/4G capability in 2013, but that percentage will grow rapidly.

3. Windows Makes Inroads

With a miniscule share of the market through 2013, Windows had nowhere to go but up when it comes to tablet operating systems. The research firm IDC projects that growth to trend upward beginning in 2014. The firm expects Windows’ market share to grow from 3.2% to 5.7% during the year, while Android will lose just a bit of their market and iOS will drop from a 35% to 31.1% share of tablets. It’s predicted those trends will continue at least through 2017.

4. Phablets

One trend which we may see beginning in 2014 is a slowdown in the sales of smaller tablets, due to increased popularity of so-called “phablets” (smart phones larger than five inches, which combine some of the most popular features of tablets and phones). There has been growing interest in these devices, but demand probably won’t peak until at least 2015 or 2016. It’s projected that around that same period we may see an additional decrease in small tablet or phone sales, as smart watches and other devices which can be worn become more viable. That should not happen in 2014, however.

Smart Phones
1. Hardware Changes

Some phones will start to look different in 2014 – at least, their displays will look different. The use of high-resolution displays grew last year with 1080p becoming the standard for most new high-end models, and you can expect to see 2560 x 1440 displays becoming common as we move through 2014, with 3840 x 2160 displays possible by the end of the year. That will let users view an actual webpage perfectly, instead of having to settle for a mobile version.

Looking further into the future, it’s believed that 4K smart phones will be on the market by 2015, made possible by those higher-resolution displays and the Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm which is the only one (so far, anyway) capable of handling 4K video. The Snapdragon will also allow actual console-quality gaming on smart phones, although it will probably be next year before that’s widely available commercially. CCI Insights believes that in 2014 we may even see a smartphone with dual interfaces, which could be used as both a phone and a PC.

Faster connections will also be seen during the year, as 300 Mbps cell phones should start to roll out in the second half of 2014. Put simply, that can be accomplished by carriers devoting two channels to a single user instead of just one, along with greater use of LTE technology.

The material that’s used to make a smart phone’s screen will start to change in many models. Manufacturers will be rolling out curved glass or plastic displays during the year, with some phones such as the LG G-Flex (which is coated with elastic) actually bendable. That’s a precursor to the introduction of what will be called “unbreakable” cell phones which we should start to see more of in late 2014.

Finally, some analysts believe that there will be a huge trend toward waterproof phones during the year, with most high-end models being able to claim that distinction by the end of 2014.

2. Size Changes

We’ve already touched on the development of phablets, the combination of phone and tablet which will continue to grow in popularity during the year. It’s expected that some smart phone users will migrate to the use of these larger hybrids during 2014, with a concurrent drop in sales of the smaller, traditional smartphone.

Also growing larger in size during the year will be the iPhone. At just four inches, the iPhone 5s is the smallest of all major brands. But in the fourth quarter of 2014 Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 6, which should be somewhere between four-and-a-half and five inches, more in line with competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy series.

3. Lower Prices

Many experts think that sales of higher-end phones have temporarily reached their upper limit; the introduction of 4K smart phones next year may again boost the sale of expensive units. International Data Group, however, believes strong growth is possible for the industry as a whole in 2014, because of a focus on cheaper models. Improvements in technology and computing speed are actually making it possible for manufacturers to build phones which approach the performance of top-end units for a lower price than ever. The average price of a phone dropped 13% between 2012 and 2013, and is projected to drop even further this year largely due to the increased sales of units like the sub-$200 Moto G from Motorola. Competitors will be moving into this market more aggressively during 2014 with units that are cheaper than ever without being bare-bones models. It’s predicted that phones priced under $200, but approaching the performance of their higher-priced brethren, will be quite common by the end of the year.

Notebook Laptop

Notebook Laptop

Notebook Laptop Computers: How Are They Different From Laptops?

The terms “laptop computer” and “notebook computer” are often used interchangeably. In reality, there are major differences, and the latter can really be described as a notebook laptop, since it was initially created as a smaller and stripped down version of a traditional laptop. Here’s a rundown of the differences between the two types of computers, their history, and important details to consider if you’re making a decision of notebook vs laptop.

Overview

The two types of portable computer are basically the same in the way they’re constructed: they each have a screen and a keyboard which are connected to each other by hinges. Most people classify a specific model as either a notebook or a laptop by its weight and size. Generally speaking, laptop computers weigh anywhere from four to 18 pounds and require their own carrying case. A computer is usually called a notebook if it weighs five pounds or less and can fit into a briefcase or large purse; some even approach the size of a tablet or PDA. Many use the term “sub-notebook” to describe the smallest notebook computers.

Notebook Laptop
Notebook Laptop

There are other important differences, however. For the most part, laptops more closely resemble a stationary or desktop computer; they’re more powerful in terms of computing power (in terms of on-board RAM), with efficient cooling systems and DVD drives; notebooks usually don’t include those features, although external drives can easily be connected if needed. There are other accessories or extra features which usually can’t be found on notebooks – for example, you can easily buy a laptop with touchscreen capabilities while a similarly equipped notebook is more difficult to find.

To put it simply, laptops are more like computers as we’ve known them over the years, and you pay for that power in terms of size, weight and price. Notebooks, or notebook laptops as they could be called (along with their close cousins netbooks and ultrabooks) are much more convenient and have become more like “real computers” as time has passed, but still don’t have all of the functionality you can get in a laptop.
Laptops

The first portable computers available to consumers debuted in the early 1980s, when companies like Osborne, Kaypro and Compaq released machines which could be carried on airplanes, a major development for travelling professionals. The Osborne is considered to have been the very first commercial laptop; it had a five-inch screen, weighed nearly 25 pounds and cost almost two thousand dollars. However, it quickly led to an influx of competitors into the newly-developing portable market. These early computers depended, of course, on floppy disks for storage. Some of the first models couldn’t even run on battery power.

Innovation came quickly throughout the decade. The first computer actually marketed as a “laptop” was the Gavilan SC, released in 1982. The TRS-80 Model 100, a very small portable machine designed by Microsoft and marketed by Radio Shack, quickly became popular; IBM released its own portable computer, the IBM PC Convertible; and Compaq came out with the first laptop to feature VGA graphics and an internal hard drive. The IBM was the most commercially successful of the group, even though it weighed twelve pounds and sold for a then-startling price of $3500. It was the first laptop to use the still-popular clamshell design and come with a rudimentary software suite, and although it only had two floppy-disk drives and no hard drive, its 256 kilobytes of internal memory was impressive for its time. Apple joined the fray in 1989 with its Macintosh Portable, which would morph into the ubiquitous Powerbook a few years later. By the turn of the 1980s, worldwide sales of laptops nearly reached 2.5 million units.

The 1990s saw more improvements in technology. In 1991, Microsoft announced their new trackball system for portable computers, Apple rolled out its first full line of PowerBooks, and Ethernet connections started to supplement the usual modem connectors found on units. The following year IBM released the ThinkPad series (often thought of as one of the first notebooks), and Microsoft teamed with Intel to unveil an advanced power management system for laptop computers which was in common use by the mid-90s. Around this time the release of better operating systems (such as Windows 95 and 98) and browsers (such as Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer) made the user experience vastly better, as did inclusion of features like USB and Pentium processors. Improvements kept coming over the next few years with the addition of color screens, universal bays for peripherals, and WiFi connectivity. As a result, laptop sales rose rapidly, reaching nearly 30 million units by the year 2000.

Over the following years, changes to laptop computers fell into two categories: more power, and less size and weight. Continuing increases in processor capability and the addition of all traditional peripherals allowed many people to give up their huge desktop computers completely, in favor of laptops. And engineering breakthroughs and components such as super-slim DVD drives allowed manufacturers to drastically reduce the weight of their machines making them easier to carry. Add to that the universal move toward WiFi hubs and connections, and the laptop continued to surge in popularity. In 2005, laptops actually outsold desktops for the first time ever, with nearly 70 million units sold.

Today, laptops often weigh less than a bag of sugar and have just about all of the capability and flexibility of a traditional desktop machine. The growing popularity of notebook computers, has cut into the sales of what have been thought of as “laptops,” but they remain a versatile and important computer with a large share of the marketplace.
Notebooks

Most industry observers cite the Compaq LTE, which hit the market in 1989, as the first real “notebook” computer. It was about a foot long, eight-and-a-half inches wide and just under two inches thick – around the size of a standard paper notebook, which is naturally where the name came from. Since it was so large compared to today’s models, it’s easy to see why some people thought of it as a notebook laptop. The IBM ThinkPad, previously mentioned, came out a short time later with one model around the same dimensions as the Compaq. One other competitor also mentioned as possibly the “first” notebook is the NEC UltraLite, unveiled that same year; it was around the same size and weighed only five pounds even though it had two megabites of internal memory.

It wasn’t until 1993 that more powerful processors were utilized in early-generation notebook computers. That’s when the Gateway Handbook was modified to use a 486 processor chip. It was also one of the smallest versions on the market at the time, with a length of ten inches, a depth of six inches, and a height of just 1 ½ inches.

Laptops continued to get smaller and lighter, and in 1996 a company called Psion actually trademarked the name “Netbook” for a line of what were called “sub-notebook” computers, finally introduced in 1999. They didn’t sell well, however, and were discontinued a few years later. When Intel eventually claimed the name for its own line of products, Psion decided not to fight for ownership of the brand name. Among the sub-notebooks released around this time were the Toshiba Libretto which weighed less than two pounds, and the Apple PowerBook Duo.

Technological advances in the 2000s meant that consumers had a wide choice of what were becoming popularly known as notebook computers, rather than notebook laptops. Most still weighed six pounds or more, and were a foot or more in length. The distinction between the smaller machines and larger laptops first came into real focus with the introduction of the Netbook Classmate PC by Intel and the Asus Eee PC in 2007, which sold more than 300,000 units in just its first four months on the market. They were each among the smallest machines available and proved extremely popular both because of their size and their lower cost.
It’s ironic that one of the biggest computer innovations of the decade was actually inspired by the work of the “One Laptop Per Child” project, which was trying to produce a sub-$100 machine to be used by children in developing countries (and which Intel was originally involved with). The construction of that machine, the XO-1, was being handled by Asus’s major rival in Taiwan; that’s what drove Asus to create and market the Eee PC

Other manufacturers quickly launched their own lines of smaller notebook computers, which all became known as netbooks. Lenovo, Acer, HO, Samsung, and finally Dell brought netbook offerings to the market in 2008 and the competition was on, although Asus continued to dominate for quite some time. The battle primarily centered around machine size and weight, as well as overall computer functionality. And sales soared. In 2010, more than 32 million netbooks were sold worldwide.

Unfortunately for companies who focused mainly on this market, however, 2010 was also the year that the iPad was introduced. A large group of consumers turned its attention to this new device (and tablets in general), which didn’t pretend to be a computer at all but provided the online interactivity which was really the goal of many users. As a direct result, sales of netbooks were down to around 14 million in 2012 and continued to fall after that, with many companies such as Toshiba, Dell and Samsung abandoning the market completely.
Ultrabooks: The Next Generation

This doesn’t mean that notebook laptop computers are a thing of the past – far from it. Intel was instrumental in furthering the concept, introducing its “ultrabook” idea in 2011. The ultrabook (which would be manufactured by a number of companies) was designed to compete in what was becoming known as the “sub-notebook” category, which also included the MacBook Air from Apple. The MacBook Air has led this market in sales for quite some time, largely due to much better performance than ultrabook-branded products.
These machines are surprisingly more like laptops than netbooks in terms of their dimensions (including screens of 12-15 inches), but they are very thin and lightweight, and have longer-than-normal battery life. They’re also much more expensive, in the $800-$1000 range as opposed to netbooks which are usually sold for half the price or even less.

Sales of ultrabooks did not meet initial projections; analysts believe that the popularity of tablets with consumers and the high price of ultrabooks were the main reasons. Many millions are still being sold, however, and new features continue to be built into ultrabooks such as touchscreens, voice command and USB 3.0.
Why Is The Term Laptop Disappearing?

It’s less and less common to see advertising for laptop computers these days, and that’s because most manufacturers are actually phasing out the term. They’re doing it for several reasons. First, the actual distinction between notebooks and laptops is rapidly disappearing, as notebooks take on most of the functionality of what have traditionally been called laptops. Secondly, marketing considerations come into play. Many consumers associate the word “laptop” with characteristics like “heavy,” “bulky” and “hot,” while they don’t have those same feelings toward the phrase “notebook computer.” Some also feel that laptop computers are always large enough so they have to fit on a lap. That’s led companies to label even their larger portable computers as notebooks – the type of machine toward which most buyers have positive feelings.
The Future of Laptops and Notebooks

While tablets have become almost as ubiquitous as smart phones, there is still strong demand for both laptop and notebook computers, particularly with continued improvement of the ultrabook and other innovations such as convertible laptops which can also be used as tablets, and a laptop with touchscreen for easy use.
Some business users have given up their computers completely and simply use Bluetooth to connect a keyboard to their tablet, relying on cloud storage instead of a dedicated hard drive. There are industry analysts who predict this will become the norm in coming years. But most professionals still rely on their portable computers for important work that must be done on the road, so notebook laptops will still prove to be a viable segment of the market.

When it comes to the consumer market the picture is cloudier. For example, most of the laptops currently being sold are used in the home as replacements for desktop models and not as portable computers. It’s likely that an all-in-one device which combines the computing power of a server with the flexibility of individual tablet-like devices will eventually be developed for home use, rendering the laptop unnecessary.
For now, though, manufacturers continue to produce and improve laptop and notebook computers – and it seems that won’t change for some time. So the choice of notebook vs laptop is one which still faces millions of buyers; with seemingly more options than ever, it’s a pleasant choice to have to make.

Best Business Laptop

Best Business Laptop

. Most notably, stability and reliability are of higher importance since breakage and data loss are the last things that you want to worry about. Additionally, things like battery life, weight, operating system, pricing, and so on are all significant factors as to whether the money you spend is ultimately worth it.
All of the most well-known laptop manufacturers produce some kind of product series that focuses on productivity, whether it’s Dell, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, and so on. Each of them offers a slightly different approach to business computing, but in the end they still run some form of Windows where you can install anything that you desire. The main difference comes in how it performs in real-world tasks as well as how the actual hardware feels as you type on it and take it with you.

Best Business Laptop
Best Business Laptop

Performance and Battery
Something that you don’t want to skimp on when it comes to business computing is a strong processor. The most intense business tasks will likely demand a fair bit of multitasking, which is an area in which modern multi-core processors excel. The bare minimum would be a dual-core processor; this is considered the current baseline of processing power, and offers some decent multitasking. Many of AMD’s processors as well as the Core i3 and i5 from Intel offer at least dual cores. It’s even better if you can afford a laptop with a quad-core processor, which you can often find in higher-end AMD processors as well as Intel’s Core i7.
Beyond processing power, battery life can be paramount especially if you’re away from an electrical outlet for extended periods of time. This is where Intel processors tend to shine starting with their 4th generation Core series (codenamed Haswell). They’ve gone through a lot of engineering effort making their processors more power efficient, and it shows in the form of 5 hour battery life and higher. You’ll find these processors in the newest laptop models, from the latter part of 2013 and beyond. Look for a four-digit number in the processor model that starts with a 4 (e.g. Intel Core i5-4xxx). You’ll really appreciate it when you can last almost the whole day without charging.

Weight and Build Quality
Another important part of finding the best business laptop is getting something that won’t break your arms or back as you carry it around. More and more, work tasks are becoming mobile, allowing employees to work from home or any place that isn’t the office. This is why it’s incredibly important to have a laptop that you can move around at your leisure without feeling like you’re trying to lift weights. That said, if you’re looking for things like a bigger screen and more power, some additional weight may be unavoidable, but generally you want to look for laptops that are around 5 pounds or less. You won’t have to look that far, either, with more and more modern laptops conforming to the Ultrabook specification, making them incredibly thin and light while still having some significant power. The downside of an Ultrabook is the more expensive price due to the smaller electronics and solid state storage.
Still, whether you go for a regular notebook or an Ultrabook, build quality tends to be quite important as well. It may not seem like a big deal, but having a machine that doesn’t feel flimsy or prone to breaking can do wonders for your peace of mind as well as your productivity. Protection from drops are welcome as well; ideally you’d want to avoid dropping a laptop at all costs, but accidents do happen. Poor build quality, however, does not need to happen.

Operating System
The vast majority of laptops sold today have some form of Windows 8, Microsoft’s newest operating system with a focus on touch interfaces. This may be fine for a lot of people, but there may be businesses and workplaces with specialized software that only work on Windows 7, making a Windows 8 machine practically useless. And even if not for compatibility, many people still prefer the user interface in Windows 7.
Thankfully, a lot of the notebook manufacturers out there offer the option of preinstalling Windows 7 on some of their business-oriented product lines. You can usually select this option when you make the purchase. If not, the company may offer a way to downgrade from Windows 8 without any additional cost. In the end, though, it’s up to you and your personal preferences as well as your work requirements.

Price
Since you want to pay for a little bit of processing muscle in a business laptop, it can end up costing $500 and more for something decent. The best business laptop may even cost upwards of $1,000 or so. Obviously price isn’t the sole factor for making a purchasing decision, but as a general guideline you do indeed get what you pay for. If you’re on a budget, it can be a little difficult finding a good business-oriented laptop for less than $500, unless you look on places like eBay or craigslist for used machines.

Extra Features
Business laptops can also offer a few extra features that consumer laptops normally don’t have. For instance, Lenovo offers a premium, high-end ThinkPad that includes a drawing surface with stylus right alongside the standard touchpad, making it ideal for CAD and design work. There are also other laptops that offer things like fingerprint scanners and other advanced features. It’s up to you and/or your business as to whether you actually need these kinds of features, although if you do, it will be a bit more difficult finding a good price since these are pretty specialized features. In such a case it may be worth the time looking for such a laptop on places like eBay. Just as long as you keep in mind everything else mentioned in this article, you should be able to make an informed purchasing decision.

Laptop Cart

Laptop Cart

The portable benefit of the laptop has made it a popular computer option since the first models hit the market two decades ago. But now, laptops are not just popular for the crowd on the move. They have begun to replace the desktop as the primary computer for the home. In fact, many homes now boast more than one laptop with dad, mom and junior often each doing their own work on their own machine.

It’s easy to grab that laptop and move from the bedroom to the living room but there is still the problem of where to rest the computer. There are some are skilled at typing, gaming and working while resting the laptop on its namesake, the lap. But for most, you want somewhere to put it while you use it. And why shouldn’t the place you rest your laptop be just as portable? Thus, the rise of the laptop cart — a rolling, compact piece of furniture featuring a small base and desk-like attachment where you can place your laptop and, if necessary, notes, a phone or even a beverage.

Laptop Cart
Laptop Cart

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