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Laptops and Netbooks- Part1
By Sageetha Sridhar

Laptops and netbooks make waves


Use of laptops and notebook computers is on the rise mainly due to their mobility and ease of use. In addition the presence of Wi-Fi wireless networks access even in the malls and coffee shops has attracted laptop-touting customers to surf the net and exchange mails while sipping their coffee. Laptops aka Notebooks have matured in terms of capabilities and specifications to execute most common functionalities normally performed by their desktop counterparts.

From a different perspective these mobile devices are eco-friendly in terms of power consumption and they are also good space savers be it at office or home. As an estimate, a normal laptop uses 20-90 watts when compared to 100-800 watts required by desktops.

According to iSuppli Corporation, Notebook PC shipments rose almost 40 percent in the Q3 2008 compared to the same period of 2007 to reach 38.6 million units. This is the first time that sale of laptops has exceeded that of personal computers. On the other side, desktop PC shipments declined by 1.3 percent for the same period to 38.5 million units. Although this was predicted by industry experts, it was not about to materialize until 2011. Almost 4yrs ahead, it has come true, demonstrating the rising trend towards such smaller computing devices.

A laptop is basically a miniature personal computer capable of being placed on the lap of an individual making it more personal and a better fit for mobility. IBM’s SCAMP project (Special Computer APL Machine Portable), demonstrated in 1973, resulted in the IBM 5100 as the first commercially available portable computer, officially released in September 1975. These were such small enough to be portable with their CRT screens and did not have a battery. IBM 5100 was soon followed by the Epson HX20 and a few other models from Tandy/RadioShack and HP. This Epson model had LCD screen, rechargeable battery and an integrated printer alone weighing 1.6 Kgs.

NASA pioneered the research for laptops for special military ground operations and developed the first laptop with flip screen and keyboard like the modern laptops in 1982.  Constant enhancements have been made to laptop designs to include touchpad, track-point buttons and biometric key pad along with the functional keys in the keyboard. Similarly improved screen resolutions, inclusion of speakers and web-cameras, better battery life, high-capacity hard drives and floppy/CD/DVD drive attachments have added on to the muscle power of modern day laptops.

Although older laptops were usually heavier, the current laptops weigh a mere 1.4 to 5.4 Kgs. Modern laptops can have a docking station to provide instant supply of power and extended connectivity with a wide range and types of ports built-in to the dock for attaching peripheral devices. Few later models feature touch-screen display along with handwriting recognition or graphics drawing capability.


A netbook is a smaller version of a laptop and incidentally they are also priced cheaper. While most people buy netbooks to surf the web and work with email, they can also perform other functions such as word processing, spreadsheet work and the like.

Netbooks come in different screen size: the 7 inches ones with a screens, and it’s important to think about how big a screen you need. The smallest netbook has a 7 inches display screen at a resolution of 800 x 480. Its keyboards are merely 80 percent of normal laptop screens and way too small for many to be used comfortably. 

Next come the netbooks with 8.9 inches screens at a resolution of 1024 x 600. The largest netbook screens are 10.2 inches and they also run at 1024 x 600 resolutions. Based on their basic purpose the netbook’s battery life can be as short as 2 hours but the users find this quite adequate for their quick net-related work. Netbook applications are designed to start up quickly, load documents quickly, and use low amounts of storage and RAM. The choice of the operating system comes to focus here as this decides which one can perform better on minimal hardware configurations.

Be it a laptop or a netbook, it is a personal matter of choice. While the use laptops have been widely accepted when compared to netbooks, it is a matter of time while the netbooks tout DVD drives and longer battery life before being much in demand.

Next week let’s see how we could offer a tender loving care to our laptops and netbooks and also recover from accidental liquid spills on such systems.

The author is a technology evangelist working as Consultant at the Information Technology Authority of Oman and can be contacted at or through her blog at or on twitter at . 

---- Continued Part02

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