Difference between a Laptop and a Notebook

What is the difference between laptop and notebook? Are they really different? Laptop, Notebook or Netbook are synonyms or words that are interchangeable? In reality the devices differ. All these have come up with distinct or different features that can confuse the consumers who wish to buy a new computer. An average customer may not be able to differentiate between a laptop and a notebook computer.



LaptopLaptop is a small and portable computer that you can use by placing it on your lap, thus the name ‘Laptop’. Laptop can be defined as a mobile computer that has a full size keyboard, flip up monitor, and a slot for built in optical drives such as CD/DVD drives. A laptop normally weighs around 1-8 kilograms but it may vary depending on size, materials used and many other factors. The very first portable computer, Osborne released in 1981 was large in size when compared to today’s laptops with tiny CRT monitors. The main problem with Osborne was its size , due to which people had to think for a separate commercial  aircraft to carry this from place to place , and other  problem was the Osborn will never run on batteries it always needed to be switched on to the power supply. In 1982, Kaypro II from Kaypro came into picture with a display double the size as Osborne’s and also floppy drives with double the storage capacity. Some of the early stage successful endeavors were –Compaq portable, Epson HX-20, Grid Compass 1101, and Cambridge Z88.


Features and Specifications of a standard laptop computer are as follows:
  • 14”-17” wide display screen
  • A graphics subsystem i.e., ATI Radeon or NVidia GeForce
  • A  DVD ROM or DVD-RW internal drive
  • A keypad which is large and fully fledged
  • A battery life of 3 hours or more or even less.
  • Can be upgraded
  • All available facilities for networking such as an integrated modem, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi etc.
  • Integrated Audio and speaker system with high quality
  • High performance and low power consumption ,uses an Intel Centrino style processor



NotebookNotebook is just another mobile computer or portable computer with a full size keyboard and a flip up monitor, but it doesn’t have internal drives like optical or floppy disk drives; it has various communication ports to use external drives as and when needed. This feature makes a Notebook to be a thinner device than a laptop. A Notebook is a small and light weight computer that can be kept inside a briefcase if needed. The manufactures use a specific technology called flat panel technology to produce light weight and non-bulky screen computer, the normal weight is less than 3 kg. Commonly a Notebook is referred as ultra-portable hence it can be called as an ultra-small laptop. The first ever known Notebook is Compaq LTE, which is launched in 1989 very similar to an A4 paper notebook [dimensions: 1.9 × 8.5 × 11 inches]. Some other examples are IBM’s ThinkPad with a 10.4” screen and dimensions 2.2 × 8.3 × 11.7” and NEC ultra-lite, measuring 1.4 × 8.3 × 11.75”.


Features and Specifications of a Notebook computer are given below:
  • Notebook is ultra-light, much thinner than a laptop.
  • A longer battery life of 4-6 hours.
  • No internal disk drives , instead it has communication ports to connect external devices
  • A minimal graphics subsystem
  • 12-14” wide display screen
  • Networking facilities like integrated modem are present.
  • Uses the smallest available keypad which retains functionality.
  • Low power consumption ,uses Celeron or Centrino or Sempron style processor


Comparison on functions and Hardware

Most of the functionalities of laptop heads over the functional capacity of a Notebook. As the Notebook occupies just the space of a paperback notebook; the processor power doesn’t seem to be more. Nowadays the available processor configurations tend to be the same for both, but the laptops have got additional hardware capabilities that Notebooks do not have. Notebooks are mainly focused to a small size similar to PDA’s so as to provide the basic functions in a small handy size but laptops are considered as the complete alternative for desktops in all ways. Laptops are more flexible in adapting new hardware aspects compared to Notebooks.


Major differences: a tabular view
  Laptop Notebook

DVD- DRIVES and other Accessories

The drives are present in an integrated fashion

No internal drives present. External drives can be used based on requirements


Very flexible in hardware aspects, add-ons and other modifications can be done anytime

Not much flexible with regards to hardware aspects and the modifications depends on manufacturer compatibilities

Processing Power

Usually associated with high processing power.

Less processing power as the size factor goes off if it become powerful


Comes in handy size from the large briefcase to small handy portables

Comes in handy size similar to PDA’s

Cooling System

Cooling fan is present

Cooling fan is not present as processing power is comparatively less.


Well, laptops and notebooks are similar almost all functionalities and other factors. Now everything depends on the manufactures what they call their products, most of them have stopped using the term ‘Laptop’ for their portable computers; instead they prefer using the name ‘Notebook’.


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    -It offers internal drives. You can use external hard drives based on the needs
    -Less processing power as the size explode if they become strong

    -This can be very flexible hardware aspects, additions and modifications at any time
    -Usually associated with high processing power.

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