A notebook computer is a battery- or AC-powered personal computer generally smaller than a briefcase that can easily be transported and conveniently used in temporary spaces such as on airplanes, in libraries, temporary offices, and at meetings. A notebook computer, sometimes called a laptop computer, typically weighs less than 5 pounds and is 3 inches or less in thickness. Among the best-known makers of notebook and laptop computers are IBM, Apple, Compaq, Dell, Toshiba, and Hewlett-Packard.
Notebook computers generally cost more than desktop computers with the same capabilities because they are more difficult to design and manufacture. A notebook can effectively be turned into a desktop computer with a docking station, a hardware frame that supplies connections for peripheral input/output devices such as a printer or larger monitor. The less capable port replicator allows you to connect a notebook to a number of peripherals through a single plug.
Notebooks usually come with displays that use thin-screen technology. The thin film transistor or active matrix screen is brighter and views better at different angles than the STN or dual-scan screen. Notebooks use several different approaches for integrating a mouse into the keyboard, including the touch pad, the trackball, and the pointing stick. A serial port also allows a regular mouse to be attached. The PC Card is insertable hardware for adding a modem or network interface card to a notebook. CD-ROM and digital versatile disc drives may be built-in or attachable.
The names "laptop" and "notebook" refer to the fact that the computer can be practically placed on (or on top of) the user's lap and can be used similarly to a notebook. As of 2022, in American English, the terms "laptop" and "notebook" are used interchangeably; in other dialects of English, one or the other may be preferred. Although the term "notebook" originally referred to a specific size of laptop (originally smaller and lighter than mainstream laptops of the time), the term has come to mean the same thing and no longer refers to any specific size.
Design elements, form factors, and construction can also vary significantly between models depending on the intended use. Examples of specialized models of laptops include rugged notebooks for use in construction or military applications, as well as low-production-cost laptops such as those from the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organization, which incorporate features like solar charging and semi-flexible components not found on most laptop computers. Portable computers, which later developed into modern laptops, were originally considered to be a small niche market, mostly for specialized field applications, such as in the military, for accountants, or traveling sales representatives. As portable computers evolved into modern laptops, they became widely used for a variety of purposes.
As 8-bit CPU machines became widely accepted, the number of portables increased rapidly. The first "laptop-sized notebook computer" was the Epson HX-20, invented (patented) by Suwa Seikosha's Yukio Yokozawa in July 1980, introduced at the COMDEX computer show in Las Vegas by Japanese company Seiko Epson in 1981, and released in July 1982. It had an LCD screen, a rechargeable battery, and a calculator-size printer, in a 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) chassis, the size of an A4 notebook. It was described as a "laptop" and "notebook" computer in its patent.
From 1983 onward, several new input techniques were developed and included in laptops, including the touch pad (Gavilan SC, 1983), the pointing stick (IBM ThinkPad 700, 1992), and handwriting recognition (Linus Write-Top, 1987). Some CPUs, such as the 1990 Intel i386SL, were designed to use minimum power to increase battery life of portable computers and were supported by dynamic power management features such as Intel SpeedStep and AMD PowerNow! in some designs.
While the terms laptop and notebook are used interchangeably today, there are some questions as to the original etymology and specificity of either term. The term laptop appears to have been coined in the early 1980s to describe a mobile computer which could be used on one's lap, and to distinguish these devices from earlier and much heavier portable computers (informally called "luggables"). The term notebook appears to have gained currency somewhat later as manufacturers started producing even smaller portable devices, further reducing their weight and size and incorporating a display roughly the size of A4 paper; these were marketed as notebooks to distinguish them from bulkier mainstream or desktop replacement laptops.
Since the introduction of portable computers during the late 1970s, their form has changed significantly, spawning a variety of visually and technologically differing subclasses. Except where there is a distinct legal trademark around a term (notably, Ultrabook), there are rarely hard distinctions between these classes and their usage has varied over time and between different sources. Since the late 2010s, the use of more specific terms has become less common, with sizes distinguished largely by the size of the screen.
There were in the past a number of marketing categories for smaller and larger laptop computers; these included "subnotebook" models, low cost "netbooks", and "ultra-mobile PCs" where the size class overlapped with devices like smartphone and handheld tablets, and "Desktop replacement" laptops for machines notably larger and heavier than typical to operate more powerful processors or graphics hardware. All of these terms have fallen out of favor as the size of mainstream laptops has gone down and their capabilities have gone up; except for niche models, laptop sizes tend to be distinguished by the size of the screen, and for more powerful models, by any specialized purpose the machine is intended for, such as a "gaming laptop" or a "mobile workstation" for professional use.
Microsoft Surface Pro-series devices and Surface Book are examples of modern 2-in-1 detachable, whereas Lenovo Yoga-series computers are a variant of 2-in-1 convertibles. While the older Surface RT and Surface 2 have the same chassis design as the Surface Pro, their use of ARM processors and Windows RT do not classify them as 2-in-1s, but as hybrid tablets. Similarly, a number of hybrid laptops run a mobile operating system, such as Android. These include Asus's Transformer Pad devices, examples of hybrids with a detachable keyboard design, which do not fall in the category of 2-in-1s.
In general, laptop components are not intended to be replaceable or upgradable by the end-user, except for components that can be detached; in the past, batteries and optical drives were commonly exchangeable. This restriction is one of the major differences between laptops and desktop computers, because the large "tower" cases used in desktop computers are designed so that new motherboards, hard disks, sound cards, RAM, and other components can be added. Memory and storage can often be upgraded with some disassembly, but with the most compact laptops, there may be no upgradeable components at all.
In the past, there was a broader range of marketing terms (both formal and informal) to distinguish between different sizes of laptops. These included Netbooks, subnotebooks, Ultra-mobile PC, and Desktop replacement computers; these are sometimes still used informally, although they are essentially dead in terms of manufacturer marketing.
Traditionally, the system RAM on laptops (as well as on desktop computers) was physically separate from the graphics memory used by the GPU. Apple's M series SoCs feature a unified pool of memory for both the system and the GPU; this approach can produce substantial efficiency gains for some applications but comes at the cost of eGPU support.
Laptop charging trolleys, also known as laptop trolleys or laptop carts, are mobile storage containers to charge multiple laptops, netbooks, and tablet computers at the same time. The trolleys are used in schools that have replaced their traditional static computer labs suites of desktop equipped with "tower" computers, but do not have enough plug sockets in an individual classroom to charge all of the devices. The trolleys can be wheeled between rooms and classrooms so that all students and teachers in a particular building can access fully charged IT equipment.
There are many laptop brands and manufacturers. Several major brands that offer notebooks in various classes are listed in the adjacent box.The major brands usually offer good service and support, including well-executed documentation and driver downloads that remain available for many years after a particular laptop model is no longer produced. Capitalizing on service, support, and brand image, laptops from major brands are more expensive than laptops by smaller brands and ODMs. Some brands specialize in a particular class of laptops, such as gaming laptops (Alienware), high-performance laptops (HP Envy), netbooks (EeePC) and laptops for children (OLPC).
Battery-powered portable computers had just 2% worldwide market share in 1986. However, laptops have become increasingly popular, both for business and personal use. Around 109 million notebook PCs shipped worldwide in 2007, a growth of 33% compared to 2006. In 2008 it was estimated that 145.9 million notebooks were sold, and that the number would grow in 2009 to 177.7 million. The third quarter of 2008 was the first time when worldwide notebook PC shipments exceeded desktops, with 38.6 million units versus 38.5 million units. Due to the advent of tablets and affordable laptops, many computer users now have laptops due to the convenience offered by the device.
Before 2008, laptops were very expensive. In May 2005, the average notebook sold for $1,131 while desktops sold for an average of $696. Around 2008, however, prices of laptops decreased substantially due to low-cost netbooks, drawing an average US$689 at U.S. retail stores in August 2008. Starting with the 2010's, laptops have decreased substantially in price at the low end due to inexpensive and low power Arm processors, less demanding operating systems such as ChromeOS, and SoC's. As of 2022, a new laptop can easily be obtained for $199 041b061a72