notebook vs laptop
The idea that computers can be made portable really only became popular in the 1990’s, around the same time that personal computing in general become popular among a mainstream audience. At first, although they were called “portable”, in practice they were anything but. With a considerably thick size along with a weight that prevented you from carrying it by hand for very long, it was probably closer to a desktop (ironically) than what we know today as portable computer.
Initially and for the rest of time until today, these portable machines adopted the now common term “laptop”, like a desktop that you place on your lap. This term has retained its high amount of usage among popular culture even today, but ever since the term was coined, we’ve had other words introduced into the English language that are more or less synonymous.
Trimming the Fat
As laptops became progressively smaller and thinner, PC makers and the general public began adopting the term “notebook”, used to describe a laptop that’s a little bit smaller than usual, but with all of the same functionality. Other than a slight difference in size, there’s no real difference in regards to notebook vs laptop; they are often used interchangeably even if they technically have a minor difference.
One special category of laptops, however, has a clearly defined term that has a significant difference from a laptop or notebook. With the release of the Eee PC from ASUS (and other similar devices) back in the day, people began using the term “netbook” to describe a notably small laptop that emphasizes extreme compactness and mobility, considered by many to be best lightweight laptop variant. Nowadays, in 2013, netbooks aren’t quite as popular as before, but people nonetheless continue to desire the same kind of portability when they’re always on the go.
As we approach the middle of the 2010 decade, we’re starting to see the merging of two different worlds of computing. In the realm of mobile computing in general, smartphones and tablets have become immensely popular. Tablets in particular have gained a lot of utility as of late as a very convenient and comfortable portable device for content consumption. For a lot of people, tablets have replaced laptops as their main computing device. However, laptops have remained as the go-to type of machine for productivity more intensive applications and games.
So, in order to address the trend towards tablets for most computing needs, many companies have started to merge the idea of laptops and tablets. These new hybrid units can act as both a laptop with full keyboard and as a standalone tablet with a slick touch interface. Not all modern computers are doing this though; many machines are instead a laptop with touch screen, coinciding with the release of operating systems like Windows 8 with their touch-centric user interface. At some point, though, it is predicted that hybrid tablet/laptop designs will become much, much more prevalent as the decade goes on.
Whether it’s a tablet/laptop hybrid or an ordinary notebook, they all come from a handful of well-known brands including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, Apple, and more. As far as who makes the best laptops, it mostly comes down to personal preference since they all largely offer the same kind of functionality. As long as their machines include some form of Windows, you can likely run all of the applications that you desire.
The main difference between these brands is style and build quality. Apple, for example, puts a lot of effort into design and form. People like that their products have a simple and stylish look to them while retaining solid build quality. Meanwhile, companies like Lenovo focus more on productivity and utility rather than stylish looks, but nonetheless have solid build quality. Dell, HP, and Acer, while having decent build quality, are more focused on having one-size-fits-all products. They’re still more than adequate regardless, but those looking for premium quality need to keep these details in mind.
In more recent years, Microsoft has also entered the mobile computing space with their Surface tablets, which run the full Windows operating system and have the tablet/laptop hybrid design. Similar to Apple or Google, they’re focusing on simplicity and sleekness while combining the convenience of a tablet with the productivity of a full laptop. It’s certainly not the lowest-cost laptop you can find, but it does offer great build quality with more than enough horsepower to even play a few games.
Looking Towards the Future
It’s difficult to predict even 5 years out what the computing industry will be like, but the previously mentioned trend of convergence is a given. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to say, for example, that desktops in the future will be a thing of the past, replaced by powerful tablet/laptop hybrids that can hook up to a big monitor. However, with the enthusiast PC market where people like to build their own machines, this may not become entirely true. It may be the case, then, that desktop PCs become more of a niche market.
Whatever the case, given that tablets and smartphones are only going to become more powerful, it doesn’t take a visionary to see them slowly start to overtake ordinary PCs. Even now, mobile computing is a massive, growing industry that’s currently in the middle of its heyday. It’s going to be interesting to see where we’ll ultimately end up.
While a continual increase in horsepower for personal computing is almost an inevitability, it’s not the only factor to consider when looking at what’s coming next. Soon we’ll start to see a lot of our devices become more consolidated, making all of our lives a bit easier. Right now we have to manage quite a few different types of devices, and there’s a growing need to unify all of this technology. It’s impossible to tell which companies are going to do this first, or who’s going to do it best, but it’s very likely to happen regardless.