What’s the Right Type of Portable Computer for Your Needs?

The modern laptop computer is a different machine from the laptop of even a few years ago. Manufacturers can now make portable machines that perform on a par with desktops. Many buyers now purchase laptops as their home’s primary computer in lieu of a desktop. Offices commonly use laptops as part of a hotdesk layout rather than static desktop stations.

While laptops have become ubiquitous as the primary working computer, it is easy to forget their intended purpose is mobility. They are designed to carry out the functionality of a desktop while on the move, whether on a business trip or a holiday.

The “mobile” or “ultra portable” laptop has become a separate market in its own right with manufacturers fitting an extraordinary amount of features into ever lighter and slimmer packages. This market is dominated by three main variants; the ultra-lite notebook, the netbook and the tablet.

With an example of each, let’s look at the uses and designs of these variants.

Ultralite Notebook

The ultra-lite notebook typically combines the optimal level of functionality and form. Manufacturers aim to provide all the capabilities of a standard laptop only in a lighter, slimmer and more portable package.

A standard laptop may be easier to carry than a desktop but they can still be somewhat bulky and cumbersome. They can easily take up the majority of space in a satchel or travel case.

Business travellers in particular will want a computer small enough that they fit files and documents alongside it. They will also want to be able to use the computer on a train or an airplane and still have room to breathe.

Ultra-lites typically have similar weight and dimensions to a textbook. The Samsung Ativ Book 9 lite is a good example of what to expect from a mid range “lite” laptop. It is only 1.75cm thick and weighs less than 1.6kg.

In that small package it is able to include a HD LED screen, a 140GHz quad-core processor and 4GB of RAM meaning it will easily carry out any normal office requirements in a very speedy manner.


Netbooks are essentially a miniaturised laptop. They typically have a screen size of less than 12” and omit certain peripherals such as optical drives to reduce cost and weight. The smaller overall form factor means they are even more portable than ultra-lite notebooks although some may find the smaller keyboards difficult to use.

The Toshiba Satellite Pro is one of the most popular Netbook models on the market and it demonstrates the amount of power that can be squeezed into such a small package. It carries a 2GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. It also has a HD LED display and a 500GB hard disk drive all in a 2cm thick frame weighing only 1.3kg.


Tablets offer the ultimate in lightweight portability. By doing away with the keyboard and implementing a touch screen surface tablets can provide all of the capability of a laptop with only half the mass.

Naturally, typing and navigation are somewhat restricted without a mouse and keyboard but unless you plan on typing out large documents a tablet usually provides all the functionality you require.

Of course not everything is about business. One of the great advantages of bringing a computer on a journey is the ability to catch up on films and TV shows during long flights or train journeys or even pass time playing video games. Tablets are ideal for this and most good quality tablets will incorporate a very high definition display, allowing for the highest resolution.

The Samsung Galaxy Pro range offer an example of this dedication to quality. Both their 10 and 12 inch models use a super high resolution 2560 x 1600 display.

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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