Whilst the vast majority of us know what a laptop computer is, there are some people who are new to computing and hence might not know what a laptop is. As a result I have written this article to explain what a laptop computer is.
Laptop computers – which are also commonly referred to simply as ‘laptops’ – are computers that are designed with portability in mind. In other words, they are designed to be easy to take with you when you are travelling somewhere. This naturally means that laptops are relatively small and as a result are light enough to comfortably sit on the user's lap (obviously this is where the name laptop came from!).
Due to their portability, laptops are common devices for people – especially those who are travelling due to business activities – to use when on a train or aeroplane. This is made possible because laptop computers have a rechargeable battery thus allowing them to be used without any mains electricity. Naturally though they can also be run via mains electricity (and when this occurs, the battery automatically recharges if needed). The average laptop battery can run for between three and five hours before needing to be recharged.
The 1970s and 80s seen numerous attempts by various companies to bring out laptops as a real, desirable product to the mainstream public. However they only started to become popular in the 1990s. This was due to the fact that from around 1985 onwards, there were major improvements in power management and saving technology (both at the operating system and hardware level), and also storage and display device technology also improve in quality. This meant that laptop products could be produced with greater quality and efficiency, which naturally led to lower costs. And the fact that laptops were available at increasing levels of quality but also at falling prices led to their popularity rising throughout the 1990s.
Unlike desktop computers, laptops have a display device ('monitor'), keyboard, touch-sensitive pointing device (a ‘mouse') and speakers all built into one unit. A typical laptop has a 17" screen, however it's easy to find providers who sell them with larger and smaller screens.
All laptops use a flip form (a hinge which allows for products to be opened and closed) and this allows them to be closed when not in use. This protects the screen, along with the keyboard and touch-sensitive pointing device. Another advantage of the flip form is that this enables the system to become very compact, thus making it ideal for transporting it (in a suitable carrying case).
Laptop computers offer a variety of advantages over desktops, including:
Higher productivity - since people can work whilst travelling
Smaller size – they take up less space, which is especially useful in small working areas
Lower power consumption – since they are designed to be able to run off battery, laptops can be as much as 80% more power efficient than desktops
They are ‘all in one’ – this is in contrast to desktop systems whereby the case, monitor, keyboard and mouse are all separate
These advantages have meant that laptops are now more popular than desktops. For example, in the final quarter of 2008 there were 38.6 million laptop units sold, which was roughly 125,000 units higher than desktop systems sold.