People often purchase laptops or notebooks rather than desktop computers because they are compact and portable. You can easily move even a large laptop from desk to desk or around a home, and the battery lets you move it without shutting it down. Although notebooks are usually smaller than laptops, the terms are often used interchangeably, depending on the manufacturer. A key difference is that notebooks typically don't have an optical drive while laptops often have a DVD drive included. Whether choosing a laptop or notebook, you should ensure the model you get matches your needs.
1Laptops: The key features of a laptop to consider include performance, graphics and display. If you need a lot of power for games or fast processing of spreadsheets and databases, you need performance offered by 4GB of memory and quad-core processors running at 2 GHz or more. Less powerful laptops with 2GB memory and duo-core processors are fine for average use. Graphics refers to how well the laptop displays everything you see on your screen. For the smoothest playback, look for a reference to ATI or nVidia in the laptop specs. The display is the laptop's monitor and once you have settled on the size you want, look for a display that appeals to you in terms of sharpness, brightness and color intensity. Make sure the laptop has a battery life adequate for your needs.
2Notebooks: You can choose a notebook by looking at the same characteristics as for a laptop but taking into consideration that a notebook is typically less powerful and smaller. In addition to performance, graphics and display, the notebook probably has no optical drive, so get an external drive if you need one. Make sure the notebook has a battery life adequate for your needs and a built-in webcam if you plan to use it for video chat applications like Skype.
3Portability: The portability of laptops and notebooks varies widely. Large desktop replacement or gaming laptops come with screens up to 18 inches and may weigh 10 pounds. Notebooks might have a 12-inch screen and weigh 3 pounds. If you use your laptop only at your desk and around the house, you may want to get a larger machine. If you need to carry a notebook to work or on trips, a smaller, lighter machine is appropriate.
4Price: The prices of laptops and notebooks are a function of screen size, performance and weight, where lighter laptops or ultra-portables are often more expensive. Large, heavy desktop replacement or gaming computers may cost several thousand dollars and average around $1,400 at the time of publication. High-performance, light ultra-portables cost around the same amount. General purpose, lower performance laptops with screens around 15 inches cost between $500 and $1,000. Smaller notebooks may cost just under $300.