What Is the Difference Between PCs, Laptops and Notebooks?


Quick Answer

The term "PC" usually refers to a desktop computer that lacks a battery and is designed for use on a desk; the terms notebook and laptop typically refer to portable computers with integrated batteries and screens. The terms "notebook" and "laptop" are interchangeable.

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Full Answer

Laptops and notebooks generally come as computers with integrated screens that fold up and down; by folding the screen on top of the keyboard, users can transport these devices in a backpack or small case. Desktops are larger and more modular. Most have ports for attaching input devices, such as keyboards and mice, and a port for attaching a monitor.

The terms "netbook" and "ultrabook" often refer to devices that are similar to laptops but smaller and lighter. There is no official definition of what qualifies as a netbook or ultrabook, and manufacturers have varying standards.

Laptops tend to be built in a highly integrated manner. Components may be soldered into place, which can make upgrades difficult or impossible. In addition, it's generally difficult to replace a screen, keyboard or cursor device, and the battery may be impossible to replace. One of the biggest differences between these two classes of devices is price. A laptop with the same specifications as a desktop typically costs significantly more.

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