What Does Laptop Mean?

A laptop is a computer designed for portability. Laptops are usually less than 3 inches thick, weigh less than 5 pounds and can be powered by a battery. As such laptops are designed for low power consumption and are most often used when space is limited, such as on an airplane.


A laptop computer is also called a notebook.

Techopedia Explains Laptop

The first commercially available laptop computer, the IBM 5100, came out in 1975. Over time, new developments in component size and processing power have made these computers increasingly functional and practical. However, laptops are more expensive than desktop computers because they require much smaller components, which are more expensive to make.

By using a docking station, laptop computers can be changed into desktop computers. All peripheral devices such as printer, scanners, and external drives are conveniently connected to the docking station so the laptop only needs to be plugged in to the station and turned on. Even regular keyboards and displays may be used with a laptop with the right hardware and software configurations. Switching between a laptop and another desktop computer using the same display, keyboard and mouse may only require pressing a single button.

Laptops often use thin-screen technology in their displays, which is designed to be brighter and able to be viewed at greater angles than regular monitors. Laptops employ a variety of pointing devices such as a mouse, trackball, touch pad and/or pointing stick. PC cards may enable the laptop to connect to a modem or network. A CD-ROM or DVD drive may be either attached or built in.

Laptops may be powered by either battery or plugged into any 120 volt AC electrical outlet. The AC source normally charges the internal battery, which can then be used for a number of hours per charge depending on usage, configuration and power management settings.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.