Laptop Comparison of the Five Laptop Categories

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PostHeaderIcon Laptop Comparison - Five Categories of Laptop Computers

Here we'll do a laptop comparison of the five laptop categories and provide an overview of each laptop style from the viewpoint of what you'll get and what you'll miss in the way of features and performance. Hopefully this will aid you in your decision-making process as to what category of laptop best fits your specific needs and lifestyle. When you perform a laptop comparison always consider your primary laptop needs based on what you'll spend most of your time doing with your laptop.

As an example, many standard laptops don't come with video cards that have dedicated VRAM (video memory). These laptop computers have integrated graphics that use shared system RAM. However, there are standard laptops that come with excellent video cards and dedicated VRAM. If you'll be doing a lot of gaming, photo-editing, or movie watching; these are the specs to watch out for. Just pay close attention to the specs of the individual laptop model in light of your most frequent laptop useage needs. Now let's take a look at a laptop comparison of the five categories and see which is best suited to your needs.

PostHeaderIcon Laptop Comparison of Ultraportables

Under 4 pounds

What You'll Get:

  • Portability:
    Not everyone wants to run through an airport looking like a pack mule. With an ultraportable notebook you can skip to the departure gate.
  • Compact Size:
    Pack your smallest bag because the ultraportable has few demands. The extra room you have in your luggage can accommodate a projector or printer.
  • Envious Looks:
    A fringe benefit of the smallest notebooks is the big stares you'll get for having them.
    If you want to make a good impression, you're better off with a small, futuristic looking notebook than with a dinosaur.

What You'll Miss:

  • Performance:
    Ultraportables smaller mobile processors are designed for portability, not performance. Expect reluctant obedience in high-demand business applications and graphically intense games.
  • Battery Life:
    Batteries are the heaviest notebook component, so the lightest of notebooks have understandably shorter battery lives. Though you may often purchase extended batteries, they will add considerably to your travel weight.
  • Screen Size:
    Ultraportable notebook screens are typically 9 to 12 inches diagonally. Higher-resolution screens mimic a full-size notebook's but can be hard on the eyes.
  • Keyboard Space:
    Like the screen, an ultraportable's keyboard is smaller, so it fails to accommodate those with larger fingers.
  • Optical Drive:
    To save space and battery life, optical drives are often omitted from ultraportables. CD and DVD drives are often an external accessory, though they can be found on a select few of the heavier ultraportables.

Laptop Comparison Ultraportable Models:

Sony Vaio TR3AToshiba Portege R100Averatec 3150HW

PostHeaderIcon Laptop Comparison of Standard Laptops

6 to 8 pounds

What You'll Get:

  • Optical Choices:
    Most standard noteboks are configurable with DVD-ROM or CD-RW choices, with DVD/CD-RW drives becoming very popular.
  • Absolute Best Pricing:
    Both heavier and lighter systems are more expensive than standard notebooks; these standard workhorses hit the sweet spot in price and performance.
  • Excellent Battery Life:
    If the standard battery doesn't impress you with its average 2 hour 56 minute battery life, most vendors sell a high-capacity version that will hold out for up to five hours.

What You'll Miss:

  • Extreme Portability:
    These notebooks will fit under an airplane seat, but only those with smaller screens will open easily during the flight.
  • Ultimate Expandability:
    You may still have to carry external peripherals to read multiple media card formats or connect other devices.
  • Top-End Graphics:
    A few standard notebooks have upgraded graphics chips, but they still won't approach the frame rates offered by desktop replacement notebooks.

Laptop Comparison Standard Laptop Models:

HP NC6000Acer Ferrari 3200Averatec 5110H

PostHeaderIcon Laptop Comparison of Thin & Lights

4 to 6 pounds

What You'll Get:

  • Portability w/Power:
    Sporting faster mobile processors, they whiz through most apps and you're generally well under the six pound weight class.
  • Excellent Displays:
    Most thin-and-lights sport 14-inch displays, which is fine for viewing everything from e-mail and web pages to Word and Excel docs.
  • Good Battery Life:
    With wireless off, expect decent battery life in the three+ hour range. Many thin-and-light systems have a modular expansion bay for swapping out an optical drive. Consider getting a second battery for this bay--its a great way to turn your laptop into an all-day system.
  • Plenty of Wireless Options:
    This category offers solid Wi-Fi 802.11b/g capabilities and in some cases Bluetooth options. Centrino systems deliver wireless capabilities without imposing a noticeable drain on battery life.

What You'll Miss:

  • Port Selection:
    You won't find as many as in destop replacements, but you will encounter USB 2.0, parallel, and sometimes even serial ports. FireWire, great for connecting a video camera, is also becoming increasingly popular in this notebook category.
  • High-End Graphics:
    Most thin-and-lights utilize shared system RAM, but there are models available that have video cards with dedicated VRAM.

Laptop Comparison Thin and Light Models:

Sharp Actius MC22Toshiba Tecra M2IBM Thinkpad T42

PostHeaderIcon Laptop Comparison of Desktop Replacements

8 pounds and up

What You'll Get:

  • The Best Video Money Can Buy:
    Wide screens, sharp displays, and powerful graphics systems power this category of notebook beyond many desktops.
  • Great Gaming and Business Performance:
    Fast CPUs and upgraded video chips make these notebooks just as good at Quicken as they are at playing Quake.
  • Desktop-Class Components:
    You'll get more than just a desktop-ready Pentium 4 CPU; many desktop replacement notebooks include numeric keypads and upgraded stereo speakers. Some even have built-in subwoofers!
  • Sophisticated Styling:
    With compactness thrown out the window, designers are free to experiment with bold, eye-catching designs.

What You'll Miss:

  • Portability:
    Even the smallest notebooks in this class won't fit under your airplane seat, and even if they do, their pathetic battery life will make working unplugged next to impossible.
  • Your bank account:
    Desktop replacements are the most expensive systems on the market, starting at around $1500.00 and climbing up to $4000.00. Don't drop it!

Laptop Comparison Desktop Replacements:

Alienware M17XToshiba Qosmio X305Apple MacBook Pro

PostHeaderIcon Laptop Comparison of Tablet PC's

2 to 4 pounds

What You'll Get:

  • Mobility:
    The tablet's touch screen and stylus work together to let you use the system in the crook of your arm. This is a desirable feature in some professions such as medicine.
  • Handwriting Recognition:
    Scribble or jot notes, and your tablet will convert your writing to editable text.
  • Two Viewing Modes:
    Tablets can be viewed in the regular landscape mode or pivoted on end, switching the orientation to a portrait mode that resembles an 8.5 x 11 writing pad.
  • Battery Life:
    Compared with ultraportables, standard notebooks, and desktop replacements, the tablet generally lasts considerably longer.

What You'll Miss:

  • Performance:
    The portable tablet most often has a slower processor and little RAM, translating to poor business and gaming performance.
  • Screen Quality:
    With an extra touch-sensitive layer on the screen, tablets often (but not always) suffer from an iridescent sheen that degrades image quality.
  • Optical Drive:
    Like the ultraportable, tablets typically forego an optical drive to keep the weight down and the unit compact. As a result, CD or DVD drives are usually add-ons or part of a docking station.

Laptop Comparison Tablet PC Models:

HP Compaq TC1100Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000DAcer TravelMate C110

Laptop Comparison of the Five Laptop Categories

Here we'll do a laptop comparison of the five laptop categories and provide an overview of each laptop style from the viewpoint of what you'll get and what you





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