No matter where you look, every type of technology seems to get bogged down by names and definitions. Do you want a smartphone, tablet or phablet? Does your mp3 player need to be a fully fledged camera and video recorder? Are all these form factor names just some kind of marketing ploy?
There’s one area of device classification where names do actually refer to differences between models and that is in the way that the ever present laptop has evolved over the years.
Laptops set the benchmark for mobile computer use far before smartphones, tablets or high-end PDAs came on the scene.
With the mass roll out of internet on the go, laptops became even more vital as a business tool and also as a kind of mobile entertainment centre. Today though there seem to be several sub classes that can be confusing when you are in the market for a new laptop. So what exactly are the differences between a laptop and a notebook?
The starting point is the same no matter who you ask. The form factor of both laptops and notebooks is the tried and tested ‘clamshell’ design of a screen and keyboard hinged together. By closing the case you have a highly portable and secure device, and when you open it there is a ready to use machine with full qwerty functionality.
Early laptops had regular 4:3 ratio screen that followed the shape of TV sets and desktop monitors. As the latter have both evolved to take on wide screen forms more suited to high resolution images, so too have those you will find on laptops and notebooks.
That means that machines can wider but often also slightly narrower than in the past. It also means that laptop screens today are perfect for watching films and television programmes.
The dimension that really separates newer machine from their predecessors is depth. Today’s laptops are slimmer than ever, taking full advantage of developments in hard drive technology to make them light and sleeker than ever before.
In general then, a notebook will be smaller and lighter than a laptop. There are no
specific size or weight classes to fully differentiate, so the naming may vary greatly from one manufacturer to another.
So really it comes down to deciding when a notebook becomes too big and needs to be labelled as a laptop. By looking at the range of toshiba laptops you can see how this all really works in practice.