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The Computer Buzz August 23rd, 2007

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


Laptop, Notebook and Desktop PCs

Portable PCs roared past desktop PCs in total sales last year. This year the industry expects to sell one million more portables than desktops.

What is the difference between a laptop PC and a notebook PC? There is no difference. They're both names for portable PCs. Nowadays we divide "portables" into three overlapping categories DR (desktop replacement) GP (general purpose) and UP (ultra portables). The most significant difference between the three types of portable PCs is size.

A DR portable has a 17 to 20 inch screen and weighs 8 to 10 pounds. As the name implies, the desktop replacement (DR) portable serves as a desktop PC in function. It is typically used in one or two permanent locations and not moved about very much. The DR portable is ideal when space is at a premium or when users want the convenience of a large screen and keyboard like a desktop but need to be able to take it with them between locations. Students away from home, recreational vehicle travelers and snowbirds are excellent examples. DR portables are typically used while plugged to an external power source so battery life is not terribly important. Most will run between 2 and 3 hours on a full charge.

Ultra portables (UP) have 10 to 12 inch screens and weigh about 4 pounds. They are compact enough to carry in a brief case. UPs have few bells and whistles. They are utilitarian and specifically designed for use on the road. They permit data storage and instant communication and data access in virtually any location They are compact, durable and expensive. Since their primary use is in transit, most will work for 5 or 6 hours on a full charge.

General purpose (GP) portables are a compromise between the desktop replacement and the ultra portable. The 15 inch screens are large enough for relative comfort and at about six pounds, they are fairly portable.

GP portables have most of the features of the larger DR portables. They typically run about four hours on a full charge.

Desktop PCs give users more bang for the buck than portables. High end portables in the $3000 to $4000 range are about 60% slower than comparably priced high end desk top PCs. The performance gap continues from top to bottom but that may not be as important at the lower end where PCs are being used mainly for Internet and text based applications and not heavy gaming, graphics and music editing.

Here are a few things to consider when buying a "low end" portable (under $1000). Brand name means little since all portables are made by the same three Asian manufacturers. All new portables come with Microsoft Vista. Don't buy one with "Vista Home Basic," you want at least "Vista Home Premium." Make sure the PC has at least 2.0Gb of RAM. Your PCs CPU should be an Intel Core 2 Duo (not a Celeron or Core Duo).





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