(redirected from Lap-top computer)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial.


, 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


This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


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.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
Gough's Range Rover was broken into at the team hotel and the thief got away with England gear, plus a lap-top computer, two of watches and six pairs of sunglasses.
The Delta-T probe consists of a lap-top computer linked to an analysis box from which clips are attached to the back of the chip.
She selected a lap-top computer and used a stolen credit card as payment, pretending she was the owner.
The Wales Council for the Blind are to buy a new fax machine, lap-top computer and Braille embossing machine with the donation from the Lloyds TSB Foundation.
Thieves stole a Toshiba lap-top computer from a Toyota Colorado, outside the Little Chef at Binley Woods yesterday.
Prosecutor Christopher James said Mr Morgan had returned home to find a conservatory window smashed and discovered his house ransacked and a pounds 1,100 lap-top computer, two radios and an amplifier missing.
The disc was in a lap-top computer stolen from the Durham University student's home in Hallgarth Street last Thursday night.
A COVENTRY man was thrown to the ground by a thief who stole his lap-top computer.
Alison, from Dunston, Gateshead, won a lap-top computer, donated by the Arts Council England North East, plus a pass for Northern Stage productions.
The pro-active approach follows the theft of a lap-top computer from a car at the Brandon Hall Hotel, in Brandon Lane, Brandon, near Rugby.
You could have bought some fantastic items yesterday, like a holiday at a villa in Corfu or a Hitachi lap-top computer. Or maybe you fancied an Aiwa personal stereo, or a Marcy home trainer to get fit for summer?
A woman was left dazed in a city car park by a mugger who stole her lap-top computer.