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, laptop computer
a personal computer that is small and light enough to be operated on the user's lap
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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A portable computer with an LCD screen that weighs from two to 10 pounds (see chart below). It uses batteries for mobile use and AC power for charging and desktop use. High-end laptops provide nearly all the speed and capabilities of desktop computers. Following are their major features:

Keyboard layout is often sacrificed. Home, End, PageUp and PageDn keys may not be dedicated, requiring that you hold down the Fn key at the same time. Often unavoidable on very small laptops, these keys are cumbersome if used a lot. Most importantly, keyboards feel different. Two rules. Rule 1: spend time testing the keyboard. Rule 2: spend time testing the keyboard. See Fn key.

Screen Resolution - Internal/External
Today, laptops use high-quality LCD screens, and the built-in display system can also feed an external monitor or data projector. Unlike a desktop computer, you cannot replace the display subsystem, so be sure the laptop has the resolution required by the external monitor if you want to connect one.

Expansion and Desktop Use
Modern laptops have several USB ports and an external monitor port, making them very flexible for expansion. However, if you plan on a lot of switching between the internal and external monitors and keyboards, a docking station may be a convenient option. See docking station.

Built-in Pointing Device
Either a touchpad or pointing stick is built into the laptop. Try it. There are differences. A regular mouse can always be plugged in.

Battery life is critical. The standard battery can usually be replaced with an extended life battery, but that adds more weight.

Watching movies requires a fast graphics processor and good speakers. Machines differ. Test drive before you buy.

Five pounds can be very heavy if you have to lug it around all day. To reduce weight, subnotebooks use external CD/DVD drives. Also, check the external power supply (see power adapter). This plastic brick adds more weight in your travel bag and is never included in the advertised weight. Following is a rough guide to portable computers by weight. See subnotebook, Ultrabook and netbook.

                      Weight Range                   Excluding External                      Power SupplyCategory               (pounds)

 Laptop (generic)        3 - 10

 Notebook                4 - 6

   Ultrabook             2 - 4
   Netbook/Mini Laptop   2 - 3

 Pocket/Smartphone       5-10 ounces

One of the First
In 1983, Tandy's Radio Shack division launched the Model 100 Micro Executive Workstation. It weighed only four pounds and included a built-in word processor, name and address list and modem. The Model 100 was inspiration for the huge portable market that followed. (Image courtesy of Tandy Corporation.)

A Decade of Difference
With a CPU 60 times faster, 100 times more memory and 200 times more disk space, the 2003 model bears little resemblance to the 1993 unit. Although significant, the differences are nowhere near as dramatic in the subsequent decade.

Never Enough Power!
The only problem with portables is that the batteries never last long enough. This lithium ion battery from Hi-Capacity ( can add up to seven more hours of run time.
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References in periodicals archive ?
said it had created a simple software error on the lap-tops relating to the hard drive, and had similarly disconnected the desktop PC's hard drive and DVD drives.
These utilities have become very popular with lap-top computer users who need to interface with desktop units.
Andy has appealed for anyone who might have seen the lap-top or tablet being offered for sale to contact police.
Johnson, who now lives in Mirfield, was arrested and during the police inquiry a lap-top computer was found at a lock-up at Holmfirth Mills.
Detective Sergeant Kerry Young, of Coventry Police, said: "We've carried out local inquiries and done intelligence checks covering the area we believe the lap-top was used - but so far we've not been able to identify the person in the photo.
The thieves stole electronic items such as lap-top computers, iPods and mobile phones as well as a car on Monday night.
"He is clearly a danger to members of the public which was reflected in the sentence." Police said Sarfraz and two other unidentified offenders had sneaked into the house and confronted the victim, demanding his lap-top. As the victim fought back he managed to unmask Sarfraz.
The school plans to use the prize money to buy a lap-top and for field trips.
Lynemouth-based Alcan Smelting and Power UK has donated pounds 1,000 to Blyth Spartans Juniors FC to buy two lap-top computers for administration work.
In addition, each teacher taking part will be given a lap-top computer for lesson planning.
Having seen the screen saver on his lap-top, I'm not sure the Wolverhampton Wanderers FC crest will quite fit in with my carefully chosen decor.
Organised thieves are targeting executive vehicles at hotel car parks to steal lap-top computers and mobile phones.