Your Guide to The Modern Laptop

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February 11, 2019

In the past, pen and paper were the ultimate documenting equipment. Whether it was work, laws and constitutions, letters or university assignments, people wrote down everything on paper. What’s more, they would write several copies of the same document, in an attempt to preserve it in case of emergency. Despite the measures they used to take, countless documents would get misplaced or lost to sudden fires.

Nowadays, pen and paper have become more of a vintage thing because laptops have taken their place. For example, people can now work while traveling and store documents on a drive. They can then retrieve these documents from anywhere in the world. Moreover, most universities don’t require their students to write down assignments anymore. They just need to submit the typed document via the internet.

Just a few decades, the people wouldn’t have ever imagined that they will able to do all of their work with a single, portable device like a laptop. Today, we can’t imagine a life without a laptop.

In this article, we will share everything one needs to know regarding laptops. Let’s start from the very basics.

What is a laptop?

Every time the word laptops comes up, you probably hear either Dell, Apple, Lenovo or HP along with it. Those are laptop brands. But what really is a laptop itself? Here is a concise answer to that question.

It works just like a desktop computer, except that it is portable and more compact. Some manufacturers refer to laptops as “notebooks.” Laptops are usually less than three inches in thickness and weigh less than five pounds. They are battery-operated devices that are made especially for use in smaller spaces, such as an office cubicle or an airplane.

There are different ways in which laptop makers have to incorporate a mouse. Most laptops come with a touchpad, but some use a trackball and almost all of them have a serial port. Through this port, you can attach a regular mouse to a laptop.

When it comes to the cost, laptops tend to cost more than desktop computers. Obviously, this is because laptops are more sophisticated. They require smaller components that are more expensive to make.

There are several other differences between laptops and desktop computers, which we will discuss later. For now, let’s delve into the history of these life-saving devices.

The history of laptops

The very first computer was so big that it took up an entire room. So how did this huge computer become so small that it can be carried around in a briefcase today?

It started in 1982 when John Ellenby launched the first modern laptop – the Compass. Although it was portable, it was still very chunky and heavy. Remember how we said that a modern laptop weighs an average of 5 pounds, if not less? Well, the Compass used to weigh a massive 11 pounds.

The Compass wasn’t very pleasing to the eye either. It had an extended component behind the display to contain all the necessary computer chips and drives. On top of all that, the Compass was also very, very expensive. At that time, its price $8,150 which is equivalent to $20,000 today.

Nonetheless, it was the Compass that started the laptop revolution.

Soon, Apple followed suit and launched their first laptop, which they called Apple Mackintosh. This device was nowhere close to the MacBook we see today. It was big, bulky, expensive and not very pretty either. In fact, the Mackintosh used to have a thickness of 9.8 inches and it weighed over 16 pounds. That’s even more than how much the Compass weighed.

Even the hard drive had only a 40 MB capacity. That was only enough to store about 20 pictures if not a few more.

Obviously, it didn’t take very long for the Mackintosh to be replaced on the market. Three years after its launch, IBM introduced the ThinkPad. Yes, the same line still exists today under Lenovo’s brand.

The ThinkPad became very popular in the market because it wasn’t as heavy and bulky as its predecessors. Much like the modern laptop, the ThinkPad folded in half and it also had a TrackPoint. If you’ve never heard of a TrackPoint, it’s the substitute for the touchpad. Trackpoints allowed the user to maneuver the mouse cursor on the screen.

Another three years later, Toshiba came into the picture with its Libretto. The Libretto was not more than the size of a novel. It was a Windows PC and weighed only 1.85 pounds (that’s even lighter than today’s laptops). This trend of laptops continued in the 2000s as “netbooks” only to be replaced by tablets eventually.

Then, in 1999, Apple made another comeback. They released what they called an “iBook.” The iBook targeted general consumers and not only clerks or businesspeople. So it had a very eye-catching appearance. If you look up some pictures of an iBook, you’ll see bright blue and yellow laptops. Clearly, they weren’t made for office-use. However, the iBook was the first laptop that connected to Wi-Fi. All the other laptops required a wired connection.

A few years later, Dell entered the scene. Their laptops had a wider display and weren’t as colorful as iBooks. Dell laptops easily conquered the market and became the ultimate laptop brand.

Finally, in 2008, Apple released their MacBook. The MacBook was a legendary game-changer for Apple and the laptop market. It was the thinnest laptop in the world and became every minimalist’s dream come true. Plus, it didn’t come with chunky external ports and it also had amazing battery life.

After the MacBook’s success and years of research and experiments, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Surface in 2012. It was a tablet that can easily be converted to a laptop with its adjustable keyboard and kickstand.

From then on, laptops haven’t evolved significantly. However, manufacturers try to give their brand an edge by introducing thinner laptops with cooler features. For example, some laptops have enough storage capacity to last a lifetime and some others have extraordinary battery life.

What can you use a modern laptop to do?

Modern laptops can be used for a variety of reasons. Since laptops are in higher demand than desktop computers, manufacturers continually try to introduce new features to laptops. As a result, you can use laptops to play extraordinary video games, edit and create videos, have professional video conferences and so much more.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the most common uses of laptops:

Educational Use

Nowadays, most schools and universities use laptops instead of textbooks as teaching material. Although some people are skeptical about this change, no one can deny that in the long run, laptops are more economical than textbooks.

It may cost one entire year’s worth of textbook charges to purchase one laptop. But that laptop can then be used for years to come. What’s more is that textbook information keeps getting outdated. In contrast, through laptops (and the Internet) teachers and students have access to the most recent information.

Further, using laptops to do assignments has increased the flexibility of a student’s life. Now, students can complete and submit their work from anywhere in the world. They can do so while traveling, while on vacation and the best part is, they won’t have to face the hefty penalties for missing deadlines.

Official Use

Modern laptops are so slim and light that they can easily be carried around. This feature of laptops has proven to be most beneficial to entrepreneurs as they’re constantly required to travel. As a result, even the time spent traveling can be utilized more effectively now. In addition to their portability, good laptops usually come with long-lasting battery power. That too facilitates an entrepreneur’s hectic schedule.

Even maintaining records has become a piece of cake nowadays. Owing to modern laptops (and technology by extension), official forms can be filled and submitted online. Due to this change from hardcopy to softcopy, people can submit information from across oceans when necessary.

Moreover, some forms include data that requires calculations (such as calculating profit or loss). Modern laptops provide professional software that can perform calculations automatically. So, all you’ll have to do is enter the data. Without a doubt, this transformation from manual calculations to computerized ones has proven to improve efficiency in many business organizations.

In addition to the extraordinary efficiency, the data can also be protected from damage. When it comes to data protection, the only concerns are hackers, computer viruses and computer malware. But, in 2019, we have plenty of anti-virus software and other solutions to protect data from hackers. If you’re not aware of any, VPNs are one such solution.

Designing and Engineering

In the past, designers had to make physical prototypes of their product idea. If there was a flaw in the idea, the entire prototype had to be rebuilt. Today, modern laptops have CAD software. CAD (Computer-Aided Designing) allows engineers to make virtual prototypes and edit them if necessary.

This change has proven to be cost-effective and more efficient in terms of time and effort. Plus, it’s definitely a more productive use of environmental resources.

On a side note, engineering students also find laptops to be very life changing. This is because using a laptop to design projects facilitates their lack of resources, including finance. Engineering software is relatively more expensive than other software. However, once purchased, it can be used for a very long time.

Casual use

Unlike big desktops, you can take a laptop with you to your bed if you want to watch a movie. You can use it in the kitchen if you want to follow a recipe as you cook. (Fun fact – some people even use it in the washroom!)

Aside from the uses of a modern laptop in the house, laptops can also be carried around during vacation. Nowadays, most hotels provide Wi-Fi. So, all you need to do is connect your laptop to the Wi-Fi and you can keep in touch with friends and family from anywhere, at any time. You can also watch movies or read e-books while on vacation.

To be honest, laptops can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether you’re an office worker or a geologist, modern laptops have something to offer to everyone. All you need is the right kind of software.
Different laptop sizes

When it comes to laptops, their most primary feature is the size. In fact, it is the size that distinguishes a laptop from a desktop computer. However, even laptops come in a variety of sizes. Some are slightly bigger and wider while some others are smaller in size and yet they serve the same purpose. Gamers, for example, prefer wider screens. Students, on the other hand, prefer something smaller that can be carried around easily.

So let’s take a look at the different laptop sizes available.

The smallest laptops are between 11 and 13 inches. These laptops are called “ultra-portable notebooks” and are ideal for users who travel often. However, choosing lightness means foregoing some functionality. Smaller laptops come with fewer ports and a lower powered CPU. Nonetheless, if you’re a student or a CEO of a global company, an ultra-portable notebook would be the best choice for you.

Moreover, if 11 to 13-inch laptops what you favor, you might also want to consider the 2in1 type of laptops. By 2in1, we are referring to tablets that can be converted into laptops. These kinds of laptops will give you the benefits of a tablet and a laptop without compromising on either. Of course, just as with regular laptops, they will have fewer ports and a lower powered CPU as well.

Yet, 2in1 laptops are increasingly becoming consumers’ favorite. Some 2in1s come with a detachable keyboard, while others have flexible hinges that allow the laptop to be flipped back 360 degrees. Whichever one you choose, you’ll have the perfect laptop for Netflix and the perfect one to type important documents as well.

The next size laptops usually come in at between 13 and 15 inches. These are the traditional laptop sizes that Gen X and the baby boomers are used to. Although they are not as easy and light to carry around as ultra-portable notebooks, they are still small enough to fit inside your backpack.

Moreover, these laptops usually have a higher storage space and CPU performance. That isn’t to say that ultra-portable notebooks are not good. The only difference is that 13 to 15-inch laptops are made for more intense use than ultra-portable ones.

The biggest laptops are usually between 15 to 18 inches. You can already imagine that these laptops are made for gamers and video-editors because they require a lot of screen space. These laptops are also known as desktop replacements and are also more expensive than most other laptops.

Although they are “laptops,” these bulky 15 to 18-inch machines aren’t usually carried around. Perhaps this is a good thing because they don’t have much battery life either. So, you might have to charge them frequently, unlike the traditional 13 to 15-inch laptops.

However, these 15 to 18-inch laptops are the best choice for gamers and video editors. So it isn’t true that they are bulky, inefficient devices. Rather, they are just made for more intense work that is done in one sitting (such as gaming).

Laptop versus Desktop Computer

Now that you know so much about laptops, you might wonder whether they are better than desktop computers. The short answer is yes, they are better; but let’s see why and how exactly this is true. Also, do keep in mind that the choice between a laptop and a desktop computer is very subjective. It depends on why you need a computer and of course, your budget.

Now, let’s look at the real differences between these two types of computers.

First and foremost, when it comes to size, we have a clear winner. Desktop computers are bulky and have several components. You won’t be able to work while traveling nor will you be able to watch a movie in the comfort of your bed. Laptops obviously can be used on a desk and the bed, without causing any inconvenience.

However, when it comes to intense performance, such as gaming, desktop computers tend to be better than laptops. But if you want a computer just to create spreadsheets, documents or to use the internet, then a laptop would be a perfect choice.

It must be mentioned that when it comes to hardcore performance, the gap between laptops and desktop computers is closing. There is an increasing demand for laptops nowadays. So, manufacturers keep coming up with new ways to make laptops more adaptable to intense video games and other similar software.

Moving on, if screen size matters to you, then desktop computer screens are definitely wider than laptop screens. While the biggest laptop screen size is 18 inches only, desktop computers are usually 22 inches in size. Again, this benefit appeals mainly to gamers and video editors. As for the rest of you, the normal laptop screen size isn’t too small either.

Finally, when it comes to software, both laptops and desktop computers are equal in status. In most cases, you usually pay for the operating system and other necessary software (such as antivirus). In special cases, you might be lucky enough to get extra software such as free games. However, neither laptops nor desktops have an advantage over each other when it comes to software.

To wrap up the battle between desktop computers and laptops, there is only one question to ask. Do you want portability or do you want power? If it’s portability, then laptops are definitely the answer. If it’s power, then a desktop computer might have more to offer. Although, laptops have high-performance CPUs too.

The needed laptop accessories for better functionality

The truth is, your laptop already has the best accessories. However, some additions could make using the laptop easier for you. So, here are some such accessories.

Perhaps the most important accessory for your laptop is a good laptop case. These cases aren’t very expensive and will protect your laptop from physical damage. A lot of people overlook the use of cases until they have to spend much more than a few dollars to fix a damaged laptop. So, like they say, “Prevention is better than cure!”

Next, you might want to consider investing in an external hard drive. What a hard drive can do is to speed up all of the work you do on your laptop. You can also save backup files in the hard drive which means your data will never get lost. Plus, external hard drives come in various sizes. Some have a capacity of up to 1TB. 1 TB is enough memory for a regular person’s entire lifetime.

Even laptop cooling mats serve a very useful purpose. When laptops overheat, all the internal components are at risk of getting damaged. A great way to fix this problem is to use a cooling mat. Usually, these mats are USB powered and come with two fans below a ventilated grill. All of this will, in turn, keep your laptop cool.

Another accessory that will soon become your favorite is the portable laptop charger. Carrying the laptop’s charger around adds extra weight and can get very annoying. Especially, when you forget to take the charger with you. But with a portable charger, such as Omni20, the need to carry the long and heavy charger around might finally come to an end.

Moving on, if your work requires you to constantly have video conferences, then a good camera becomes very important. The problem is, not every laptop comes with a great camera. One way to overcome this problem is to buy a webcam. They are not very expensive and can be used for years after purchase. With a webcam, you can enjoy HD camera quality and excellent sound quality too.

Finally, if the usual stack of books isn’t enough to prop your laptop, a laptop stand would be a great addition to your collection. It can put an end to the uncomfortable hand positions you have to take when typing.

Popular Laptop Operating Systems

Have you ever wondered why your laptop needs Windows or Mac OS? Windows and Mac OS are examples of operating systems. Your laptop needs an operating system to allow you (the user) to use all the applications in your device.

There are several operating systems for you to choose from. The most popular among them are:

Windows 10 – Windows is definitely a name everyone has heard. Their latest version, Windows 10, has proven to be extremely user-friendly and it comes with sufficient built-in security too.

Windows 7 – For those of you who can’t afford Windows 10 yet, even Windows 7 is still very popular on the operating systems market. It provides almost the same features as Windows 10, but with a slightly lower performance.

Mac OS El Capitan – El Capitan brings out the best of the MacBook with its extraordinary features, including the split view.

Mac OS Sierra – This version of Mac OS is the best operating system for photo editing and online shopping. Clearly, if you’re a regular consumer, Sierra would be a great choice for everyday use.

Linux – This one isn’t as common as Windows or Mac OS, but Linux is still a free and user-friendly operating system. It is also easily available anywhere in the world.

The Top Laptop Brands

Now you know everything one needs to know about laptops. So the next time you set out to purchase a new laptop, you’ll know exactly what to look for.

To wrap up this ultimate guide to the modern laptop, let’s talk about the only thing left to talk about – the brands. So here are the best laptop brands of 2019:

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