Computers are used to process information at work, to write reports for school, to handle expenses for the home, and to play games, music or movies for entertainment. In short, they are necessary for modern life. But when deciding to buy one, how do you choose between a laptop and a desktop? This article describes some of the advantages and disadvantages of laptops.
Because they pack all components into a compact size, laptops do not need the space of a desktop, which requires a specific and permanent area at home or work. You can put a laptop on any flat surface such as a work desk, dining table, picnic table or your lap.
Because of its light weight, built-in power source, and wireless modem, a laptop can go with you to different locations. You no longer need separate desktops for work, school or home, all of which require synchronization to contain the same information. You can also use a laptop while traveling in a car, train or plane, so your commute time can be more efficient.
Though you can secure a desktop within a locked room, you can hide a laptop inside a locked drawer within that room. For additional safety from disasters, a laptop can go inside a fireproof safe. For maximum security, it can also be kept in a safe-deposit box in a bank.
A laptop costs more than an equivalent desktop, even one that includes a premium flat screen. Compare a $649 Dell Studio 15 Laptop that has a 15.6-inch screen, combo drive, 3GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive with a $599 Dell Studio Desktop that has a 17" screen, combo drive, 2GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. When they become outdated, desktop internals can often be cheaply expanded and upgraded with new boards. But an outdated laptop usually requires replacement.
A laptop can be harder to use because of the smaller keyboard and screen. The devices lack the separate 10-key pad needed for quick number entry. The mouse pad requires finer finger control but offers less movement flexibility than a separate mouse. Because the laptop screen shrinks the fonts and pictures of a standard display, it may require squinting or reading glasses to view.
Because of its size and light weight, a laptop can easily be dropped and damaged. You can also leave it behind in a coffeehouse or airplane, especially if you are in a hurry. Finally, a laptop can easily be stolen by someone during one of your unguarded moments.
One way to avoid some of the usability cons of a laptop, is to attach a full-sized keyboard, external mouse, and monitor. However, this essentially turns it into a desktop and eliminates any mobility advantages.