What Are Some Differences Between a Laptop and a Notebook?


Quick Answer

In general, the term laptop refers to a heavier, more full-featured portable computer while a notebook describes a lighter, more compact device. Laptops may include built-in mechanical and optical drives, while a notebook often features a solid-state storage device and requires an external USB connection to access optical media. There is no official distinction between the two terms, however, and in many cases they may be used interchangeably.

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Full Answer

A laptop is often a replacement for a desktop computer and tends to feature similar components and capabilities to its larger cousins. Laptops may have large screens and powerful processors, and many run demanding programs, such as graphic and video editing suites, as well as high-end games. This increases the weight and decreases the portability of the device.

Manufacturers design notebooks primarily for lighter computing tasks, and notebooks often feature less powerful hardware than laptops. Solid-state drives are common in notebook PCs due to their lack of moving parts and light weight. Some models forgo built-in speakers in order to save weight, instead requiring owners to use headphones or to connect to external speakers using Bluetooth. Some models, often called netbooks, contain very little on-board storage or computing power and rely on cloud-based systems to run programs and store data.

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