The Positive & Negative Effects of Laptops

By Melly Parker

The first laptop was released by Osborne Computers in 1981. It weighed almost 25 pounds and cost $1,795. Laptops now are faster, sleeker and more powerful that their predecessors, and many high-end models still cost as much or even more than that first laptop. Laptop users enjoy plenty of benefits, but before you purchase your next computer, consider the drawbacks and risks as well as the benefits.


One of the biggest benefits of owning a laptop is that you can take it almost anywhere. Laptops are small enough to fit in backpacks and travel bags. They have all the hardware you need included in the package — monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers. You can use them on small surfaces or on your lap while you sit back on the couch. Laptops have ports you can use to attached peripheral devices if you want to use a different keyboard or monitor. The portability of a laptop can be a problem when it comes to security because they are easily stolen. Using a password on a laptop prevents an unauthorized user from accessing your files.


Because desktop computers are larger than laptops and offer more expansion possibilities, high-end desktop computers are usually more powerful than high-end laptops. The price of a laptop with specifications similar to a desktop computer is usually priced higher. Special graphics card and processors are used in laptops because of the small size of the case, which means some laptops offer a lower level of power available to the software you run than you would find in a desktop model. However, laptops designed to handle power-hungry programs like video games or image-processing resources are available. Laptops have a limited battery life, which is not an issue with desktop computers.


Laptops have fewer options for heat management than desktop computers because of their small size. While you can pair a laptop with a cooling pad or a USB fan, there is little or no space to expand an in-case fan or to add additional heat sinks. Heat management is an especially important consideration for laptops with a high-end graphics card. Such models generate lots of heat, which can reduce the lifetime of your machine.

Other Considerations

Because laptops sit on your lap and grow warm, they come with some potential health risks. Some users have experienced skin discoloration from prolonged contact with heat. There's also some debate that laptop use may lead to infertility in men or skin cancer. Using your laptop with a pad between your body and the device can mitigate heat-related risks. Also, consider the ergonomics of using a laptop. It's important to practice good posture and hand position on any computer, but the portable nature of a laptop lends itself to slouching posture and awkward hand positioning. Monitor yourself to ensure that you're not harming your hands, wrists or back.