Types of Computer

Desktop ComputerLaptop ComputerTablet ComputerSmartPhone

There are many different types of computer equipment available with each having their own distinct features and advantages.

The main types are:

  • Desktop Computer (PC)
  • Laptop
  • Netbook
  • Tablet
  • PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
  • SmartPhone

We will have a quick look at each in turn.

The Desktop PC is not designed to be portable. You will generally see a PC set up in one place where it stays during its working life. The main input device are mouse and keyboard although there are systems that are touch screen and this is likely to increase in popularity with the development of operating systems that are designed for touch screens. Within the PC is a complex motherboard and a large capacity hard disk drive. Other hardware components include RAM chips and the processor. The PC was designed in such a way to allow the internal hardware to be updated as more advanced parts became available. Typical components that could be updated include the Processor, RAM and the hard disk.

A laptop is a scaled down version of a desktop PC and has similar hardware components although they are typically smaller, such as the hard disk drive. Unlike PCs laptops were designed to be portable as suggested by their name they can be used when sitting on the user’s lap. Other differences are that the monitor is built into the system and that there is a battery which will allow the user to use the laptop even when they are not near mains power.

The netbook is a portable computer based upon the design of a laptop. It is generally much smaller than a laptop with a more compact screen and keyboard and can be described as a mini laptop. One of the reasons for the popularity of netbooks is the existence of the internet because surfing the web is a typical netbook use. Although software such as word processors and other productivity programs can be used on a netbook they are limited. This is a mixture of limited processor speed and lack of RAM. A netbook main power supply is a battery although mains power can also be used.

The tablet computer initially became popular through innovative developments by the Apple company, who pioneered a touch screen device that had no keyboard but had all of the hardware behind the screen including processor, memory and an inbuilt battery. One of the amazing features of this technology is how thin and lightweight the tablet is while still providing a powerful multimedia computing experience which is ideal for tasks such as playing high quality graphic games, watching movies, listening to music, surfing the web, and even reading books.  All of this impressive hardware is supported by a powerful operating system and a massive range of software apps.

It didn’t take other companies long to realise the potential of the tablet and there are now many different tablets with different specifications available. There are also different types of operating systems, including Apple, Android and Windows.

PDAs are small handheld computing devices that perform many functions, for example, simple spreadsheets, calendar and word processing. These devices were designed to assist business people with their jobs. Typically, PDAs have been replaced by SmartPhones, which combine mobile phone technology with PDA technology.

Many SmartPhones use sophisticated touch screen technology that work in a similar way to tablets. The SmartPhone like the other devices has a specifically written operating system to maximise hardware usage, including the processor, memory and battery. The SmartPhones main power is from the battery and battery life is one of the issues because SmartPhones are power intensive. Things that require a lot of battery power are the high quality touch screen and network activity. Software in the form of an app can be installed that will monitor the system and maximise power are available. Examples of operating systems found on SmartPhones are Apple, Android and Windows.

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