Advantages and Disadvantages of Laptop Computers

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Laptops are convenient but also have disadvantages compared to desktops.

Laptop computers, although often more expensive than their desktop counterparts, are prevalent in every facet of modern life, with many users using them as their primary computers. Portability, easy access to ports and lower power requirements allow laptop computers to equally address the needs of personal, business and school use. Desktop systems, however, still enjoy a strong following due to the greater ease with which they can be configured and upgraded, their higher general performance and comparative ease of repair. Laptop computers can also present problems with repairs and security, adding additional concerns.

  1. The Facts

    • Laptop computers come in a variety of configurations and exist in the same general performance spectrum as desktop computers. Most normal components of a laptop, including the CPU, motherboard, graphics board and hard drive must be manufactured differently than their desktop equivalents due to the components needing to be smaller and able to perform the same functions with less space and power. Because of this, laptop computers are normally more expensive than equivalently powerful desktop systems due to the higher expense of manufacturing.

    Pricing

    • Three factors affect the price of a laptop computer: the specifications, the weight and the size of the screen. Specifications include CPU speed and number of cores, the amount and speed of RAM and the amount of storage space. Higher numbers on all of these will mean better performance -- and a higher price. Lighter and thinner laptops will be even more expensive, and the bigger the screen the higher the price. At the other end of the spectrum are netbooks, which are a low-priced variety of laptop meant to only address the basic needs of Web surfing and word processing. These low-end laptops have little memory, little storage, don’t run very fast and have small screens. Netbooks are gaining in popularity, though, because of their lower price and greater portability than bulkier laptops.

    Advantages

    • Laptop computers are far more portable than desktop PCs and have more easily accessible ports, making them perfect for students and mobile professionals who require a computer while on the move if they need to give presentations, share files or access email or Internet while away from their home. Laptops have lower power and space requirements than desktops, thus conserving electricity and space while accomplishing the same work. Because a laptop is a complete computer, you aren’t dependent on peripherals like mice, keyboards and monitors, although you can easily add these things and even plug your laptop into a larger monitor, television or other display.

    Disadvantages

    • Laptop computers are difficult to repair, upgrade or modify due to their closed and integrated design. While storage drives and RAM are usually accessible because these are the things you will most likely upgrade, it is often difficult to modify or replace your CPU, graphics chip or motherboard. These jobs will usually require professional equipment and tools -- or a hired professional technician. Additionally, while in a desktop computer the possible configurations are almost unlimited, laptop configurations are very limited to those provided by laptop manufacturers. Some software may also be incompatible with laptop hardware and installing operating systems different than those bundled with the laptop may result in hardware incompatibilities.

    Considerations

    • While privacy is always an issue with computers, the portable nature of laptops increases the vulnerability of your data. Special features such as thumbprint identification locks, increased encryption and remote security features have been developed that can help protect your data, but be aware that no defense is perfect. If your laptop is going to leave the house, always remember to create a login account and password to protect your data. Also be wary of unsecured wireless networks, which are easy for maliciously minded people to "sniff" and access your personal information.

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