Wednesday, 13 November 2013

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Introduction to Laptop Models by AmanAhad

Most reviews place laptops into specific categories based on weight, screen size, or price to make it easier to compare to other laptops. Below are the most commonly used laptop models categories and their typical features, as well as the kind of work best suited for each laptop type. (Note: while industry experts use the same category labels -- e.g., "ultraportable" or "desktop replacement" -- there's no one set of standards for these categories. Make sure you know the criteria reviewers use for their laptop classifications so you can compare on a truly apples-to-apples basis. About's Guide to PC Hardware has other information on laptop size and weight.).

Netbooks: 7 to 11" / <3 lbs.

The ASUS Eee PC 701 was one of the first netbooksASUS Eee PC 701 photo © ASUS
Netbooks are the smallest and cheapest laptop type with the most modest specs, though more netbooks are being made with higher-end options like HD screens, which push the price over $500 (even over $1000) and into the ultraportables price range.
Pros: long battery life, lightweight, connectivity options like mobile broadband and wireless-n cards, and low cost (most are $200-300).
Cons: low-powered single-core processor, no CD/DVD drive, low resolutions/small screens.
Best for: business travel, student use, Web-based work

Ultraportables: 9 to 13" / <3 lbs.

MacBook Air ultraportable laptopMacBook Air photo © Apple
As the name suggests, these laptops are designed for portability. Because screen sizes can vary greatly (even 13.3" laptops like the MacBook Air are in this category), ultraportables may best be defined by weight (<3 lbs.) and more processing power compared to netbooks.
Pros: good battery life, lightweight, thin form, dual core CPU in some models, memory capacity over 2GB.
Cons: typically higher cost than netbooks ($700+)
Best for: business travelers, students, field workers, other mobile professionals

Thin-and-Light Laptops: 11 to 16" / 4 to 6 lbs.

Lenovo Thinkpad T400s thin-and-light laptopLenovo Thinkpad T400s photo © Lenovo
The Thin-and-Light laptop category is another one with a descriptive name yet vague definition. Ranges for screen sizes vary greatly depending on the source (CNet even devotes the whole category just to 13" laptops). As with ultraportables, weight may be the defining factor: thin-and-lights are 4 to 6 pounds. They're good general laptops.
Pros: decent battery life, better processors than ultraportables, often have modular bays for DVD drive or 2nd battery, good-size displays
Cons: not as easily portable, slightly higher cost (around $1000 or more)
Best for: occasional travel, student use, most PC tasks

Mainstream or All-Purpose Laptops: 14 to 16" / 6 to 8 lbs.

Dell Vostro 1500 mainstream business laptopDell Vostro 1500 Photo © Dell
Mainstream laptops, also called midsize laptops, can overlap the thin-and-light category, but the main objective for mainstream laptops is to deliver an ideal balance of portability and performance. They're the most common type of laptops and designed for all-purpose use. Prices also range from budget laptop (under $700) to premium (over $2000).
Pros: processing power for most tasks, range of screen resolutions, optical drive options, great display sizes
Cons: can be heavy, batteries tend to last only a few hours
Best for: infrequent travel, most computing tasks

Desktop Replacement Laptops: 17" or more / over 8 lbs.

HP ProBook 4720s desktop replacement laptopHP ProBook 4720s photo © HP
Desktop replacement laptops are the largest and heaviest of the laptop types, meant to replace desktop PCs (and monitors and keyboards). Prices for these powerful laptops range from around $1000 to over $4000 for very high-end models.
Pros: the most processing power, excellent displays with lots of screen real estate, optical drives, usually discrete graphics cards for video and gaming power
Cons: heavy, can run hot, battery life very short
Best for: multimedia users and graphics pros, all types of business computing, very infrequent travel

Tablet PCs: <12" / <6 lbs.

Lenovo X200 tablet PCLenovo X200T photo © Lenovo
Tablets are unique laptops that allow touchscreen input via stylus or fingers. They come in two form factors: slate (no physical keyboard; all input is done on-screen) and convertible (both a physical keyboard and slate input mode where the display rotates out of the way).
Pros: enhanced interactivity, thin form factor for slates, flexible screen angles for convertibles
Cons: more expensive than other laptops with similar specs
Best for: artists, students, field workers, most business tasks (especially meeting note-taking)

Rugged Laptops: <15" / <8 lbs.

Panasonic Toughbook 30 rugged notebookPanasonic Toughbook 30 photo © Panasonic
Rugged PCs are another specialty laptop type, designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions (very hot temperatures, sandy environments, exposure to water) as well as physical abuse or shock (being dropped). One of the most popular example is the Panasonic Toughbook, available in several form factors including convertible tablet, slate, and notebook.
Pros: very durable, often enhanced security features
Cons: very expensive (upwards of $4000)
Best for: field work, specialty industries like law enforcement or the military

Business Laptops: Varies

Reviews sometimes include a "business laptop" category; often this just describes mainstream laptops that are suitable for typical business tasks like working on office docs. A "business grade" or "business class" laptop, however, may also mean a laptop model offered in a manufacturer's business division -- Dell Small Business, for example, instead of Dell Home. Though pricier than consumer models, business class computers are generally better for professionals, due to their greater build quality.
Best for: business professionals