What Is the Difference Between a Mac & an HP Laptop?

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As of July 2011, U.S.-based technology company Apple Inc. offers three laptops in its Macintosh computer line-up. Another U.S.-based technology company, Hewlett-Packard, has a much wider choice of laptops, thus offering the advantage of a variety of technical configurations. HP laptops are primarily split into the company's flagship Pavilion brand and its high-performance ENVY nameplate.

Operating System, Processor and System Memory

  • The most notable difference between a Mac and an HP laptop is the operating system. As of July 2011, the MacBook family uses Apple's OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard operating system. A Windows-based personal computer, the HP laptop uses Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. The Mac laptop is solely based on processor technology from Intel Corp., while the HP laptop uses both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) processors. Each MacBook has a maximum system memory -- or random access memory (RAM) -- capacity of 4 gigabytes (GB). The HP laptop offers a range of 4GB to 16GB.

Storage and Multimedia

  • Equipped with Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA)-connected hard disk drives (HDDs), the Mac laptop can contain up to 750GB of data storage. HP, also with SATA-connected HDDs, offers more: up to 2 terabytes (TB), which is equivalent to 2,000GB. The standard optical drive for the Mac and HP laptops is a CD/DVD player and recorder, which accommodates both the "plus" and "minus" DVD recordable formats. HP provides the option of a CD/DVD drive with added Blu-ray disc capabilities. The MacBook Air, however, does not have an optical drive at all. MacBooks rely on dedicated cards from Nvidia and AMD for substantial video and graphics capabilities; the HP laptops use only the latter. HP also installs a Beats Audio sound driver on some of its laptops.

Networking

  • For wireless networking, the HP laptop has either a 10/100-megabits-per-second (Mbps) or 10/100/1000-Mbps Ethernet connection. The Mac laptops stick with the 10/100/1000 adapter. A Wi-Fi card in compliance with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11a/b/g/n standards provides wireless network connectivity for the Mac and HP laptops. Some HP wireless adapters, however, omit the IEEE 802.11a protocol. Bluetooth 2.1 + Enhanced Data Rate wireless technology is standard on all Mac laptops; it is optional for most HP laptops.

Screen Size and Display

  • The Mac laptop is available in four glossy or anti-glare widescreen sizes, all measured diagonally: 11.6 inches, 13.3 inches, 15.4 inches and 17 inches. It also has four choices of resolution or display quality: 1,280 pixels by 800 pixels; 1,366 pixels by 768 pixels; 1,440 pixels by 900 pixels; and 1,920 pixels by 1,200 pixels. The HP laptop also offers four glossy or anti-glare widescreen sizes, all measured diagonally: 14 inches; 14.5 inches; 15.6 inches; and 17.3 inches. HP only offers two resolutions, however: 1,366 pixels by 768 pixels and 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels.

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