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What is the difference between a notebook and a laptop?
There is no difference between a notebook and a laptop. These terms are interchangeable and they refer to the same thing - a laptop is a computer system that is portable, and is "small enough to use on a person's lap".
WikiPedia: " A laptop is a personal computer designed for mobile use and small and light enough to sit on a person's lap while in use. A laptop integrates most of the typical components of a desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device (a touchpad, also known as a trackpad, and/or a pointing stick), speakers, and often including a battery, into a single small and light unit. The rechargeable battery (if present) is charged from an AC adapter and typically stores enough energy to run the laptop for three to five hours in its initial state, depending on the configuration and power management of the computer."
WikiPedia redirects "Notebook computers" to Laptops. Wikipedia has the following information about Notebooks "A laptop PC which measures at least 11 inches across, which is the minimum width to allow for a full-size keyboard (a keyboard with the minimum QWERTY key layout, which is at least 13-1/2 keys across that are on three-quarter (0.750) inch centres, plus some room on both ends for the case). The first Notebook PC's were the size of a standard U.S. "A size" notebook piece of paper (8-1/2 x 11 inches), but later "A4-size" Notebook PC's were introduced, which were the width of a standard European "A4" notebook piece of paper (297 mm, or about 11.7 inches wide), and added a vertical column of keys to the right and wider screens."
"Laptop" is used more often than notebook. Google trends confirms this.
What are NETbooks / mini notebooks / ultra portables?
Netbooks are very portable computers. Netbooks have limited features but are very well priced. Most netbooks do not include a CD or DVD drive. The netbook is much smaller than a laptop and the netbook is used as a network / internet computer. Netbooks complement a user's main computer and is not meant to replace it.
Which processor / CPU?
Purchase the best processor you can afford. Multi-core processors are standard these days, and they outperform single core processors. For gaming, speed is the main deciding factor. The faster the Processor and the more cores, the better the system will perform. Laptop processors are optimised to balance battery life and performance.
Special note: CENTRINO is not a processor. It is an Intel brand that refers to the Intel wireless technologies (Intel Wi-Fi and WiMAX adapters). Previously, the brand covered a particular combination of mainboard chipset, mobile CPU and wireless network interface in the design of a laptop. Centrino is therefore not a reference to the processor's performance in any way.
How much memory / RAM do I need?
The more memory your machine has, the better it will perform.
32 bit hardware has a limitation when it comes to memory. The maximum amount of usable memory is approximately 3.2 Gigabytes. You may add more memory, but the limit will always be approximately 3.2 Gigabytes. There is no workaround as this is a hardware limitation on 32 bit systems.
To use more memory, a 64 bit processor and a 64 bit operating system is required.
The rule of thumb here is: The memory a computer has, the better it will perform. Microsoft Windows 7 (64bit) and Windows 8 laptops will run much faster and smoother with 32GB of memory installed compared to only 4GB of memory.
Which operating system do I choose for my laptop?
Linux is an open source operating system, making it the cheapest operating system. Linux is so versatile it can be used by beginners.
Microsoft Windows 8, Microsoft Windows 8 Pro
Microsoft Windows 8 was released by Microsoft in 2012, and is available in two main OEM and retail versions for laptops and PCs: Windows 8 for home and small office users, and Windows 8 Pro for businesses that use domains and servers. Windows 8 Pro is required for the Windows 8 Media Center add-on.
Compare the Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro versions
Microsoft Windows 8 Media Center
Windows 8 Media center is only available as an optional add-on for Microsoft Windows 8 Pro. Media center is a separate purchase.
Windows 8 Media center is not available for any other version (cannot be installed on Windows 8 or Windows 8 Enterprise).
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise requires volume licensing. Windows 8 Enterprise has the same features as Windows 8 Pro, and includes additional features that are not available in the other Windows 8 versions:
Microsoft Windows 8 RT
Windows 8 RT is available for tablet computers that have ARM processors, and is a pre-installed operating system and cannot be purchased in retail. Windows 8 RT devices include Office Home & Student 2013 RT as standard.
Windows 7 Home basic, Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate
Prior to Windows 8, a number of Microsoft Windows 7 versions were available as shown below.