Laptop Definition and 13 Discussions

A laptop, laptop computer, or notebook computer is a small, portable personal computer (PC) with a screen and alphanumeric keyboard. These typically have a "clamshell" form factor, typically having the screen mounted on the inside of the upper lid and the keyboard on the inside of the lower lid, although 2-in-1 PCs with a detachable keyboard are often marketed as laptops or as having a "laptop mode." Laptops are folded shut for transportation, and thus are suitable for mobile use. Its name comes from lap, as it was deemed practical to be placed on a person's lap when being used. Today, laptops are the used in a variety of settings, such as at work, in education, for playing games, web browsing, for personal multimedia, and general home computer use.
As of 2021, in American English, the terms laptop computer and notebook computer are used interchangeably; in other dialects of English one or the other may be preferred. The term 'notebook computers' or 'notebooks' originally referred to a specific size of laptop (originally smaller and lighter than mainstream laptops of the time), the terms have come to mean the same thing and notebook no longer refers to any specific size.
Laptops combine all the input/output components and capabilities of a desktop computer, including the display screen, small speakers, a keyboard, data storage device, sometimes an optical disc drive, pointing devices (such as a touchpad or pointing stick), with an operating system, a processor and memory into a single unit. Most modern laptops feature integrated webcams and built-in microphones, while many also have touchscreens. Laptops can be powered either from an internal battery or by an external power supply from an AC adapter. Hardware specifications, such as the processor speed and memory capacity, significantly vary between different types, models and price points.
Design elements, form factor and construction can also vary significantly between models depending on 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 for traveling sales representatives. As the portable computers evolved into the modern laptop, they became widely used for a variety of purposes.

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  1. P

    What specs should I look for in a laptop

    After completing my sophomore year at college as a Physics major and I realized that the laptop I currently have is not able to keep up with the demand I put it under for school. The laptop I currently have has a <2 hour battery life and has been known to crap out (didn't know how else to...
  2. fluidistic

    Suggest a student laptop

    Hello! I need a new laptop, because my current HP laptop has less than 2 hours of battery life (and is extremely slow due to 5400 rpm HDD and Intel Celeron N2830 processor and has a lot more problems that I won't mention here.) and I need at least 7 hours. Usually the 1st step is to figure out...
  3. P

    Programs Completing a Bachelors degree without a laptop?

    Hello PF, Im going through some financial difficulties and i need some money, i have a gaming laptop that i can sell and that would help me greatly. I've been considering buying a 10 inch tablet and save the rest of the money... Has anyone done this? going through a bachelors degree using just...
  4. A

    New laptop recommendations for an ME undergrad

    I'm starting my engineering program (mechanical engineering) this fall 2017. Transfer student, going in as a Junior. That being said I'm looking to buy a new laptop to get me through the prorgan. I currently have a MacBook Pro 2010, no longer good. I'm not familiar with the Microsoft PC world...
  5. jamalkoiyess

    What is the computer hardware needed by a physicist?

    I am looking at desktop and laptop options, but I do not know which will be beneficial to me as a Physics student. I am a sophomore and am looking for something that can last up to 5 years of performance without having to upgrade and also it should fit my needs as a physicist. Since I know so...
  6. R

    B Laptop for Research

    Hi, I am starting at a CDT (Integrated MSc, and PhD) next month in Fluid Dynamics, a large part of my work will include running simulations and writing code. I am in need of a new laptop, I am going to dual boot windows and fedora scientific. Between the student discount and mobility of the...
  7. P

    Which PC screen is better?

    Which is better: the traditional glossy screen or that newer matte screen?
  8. CptWhoWent

    Left click on a laptop Touchpad started working after a year

    Hey guys, From the title you probably get the idea about my question as I am so confused. How come a left click of a laptom Touchpad started to work normally after having a problem with it for more than a year? I really hope it is not a short therm thing, as I have no logical explanation for...
  9. Titan97

    CScript.exe opens automatically

    When I switched on my laptop yesterday, a window opened automatically with a name : "C:\Windows\system32\Cscript.exe". It now happens every time I restart my laptop. Is this because of some computer virus or should I just ignore it ? (My laptop is 5 years old and runs on Windows 7 ultimate 32...
  10. EJC

    Best Laptop / Important Laptop Specs?

    Hello PF, I'm in the market for a new computer and due to my needs I've got it narrowed down to a laptop. My budget is about $1000, maybe a little more if need be. I'm looking for advice on what hardware specs would be most useful for the standard physics major. I run MATLAB, Maple, and a few...
  11. M

    What computer should a Mechenaical Engineering Student Buy

    Hello all. My daughter is going to start as a freshman in a BS Mechanical Engineering program. I want to buy her a PC that will last her through her 4 years of school. My initial thoughts were some of the light, but relatively powerful new offerings (Surface and other thin designs), but I...
  12. B

    Laptop Decision Help

    So, I'm going to be a physics major next year. I'm in the process of looking for my first laptop. I've been doing a lot of research and I've pretty much settled on a 13" retina display Mac book pro. My question is what guts do I need to be getting in the computer? I'm looking at 256GB SSD (I...
  13. H

    Physics researcher/student needing new laptop

    Hello, I'm a physics student (currently a senior in college, planning on going to graduate school for a Ph.D.). My current laptop is encountering major problems, mostly small things that make it not worth investing more money into the laptop, given that it's already old. I currently do...