How to choose a PC: netbook, tablet, laptop, or all-in-one?
It used to be simple. If you wanted a computer, you chose from one of the many desktop varieties available. But with all the changes in computing technology, now it feels like you need to be an expert to figure it all out. Do you need a laptop? A desktop? Or maybe a tablet? What exactly are the differences between them? Here’s a quick rundown of several types of computers.
Netbooks are small, light, reasonably priced, and have extra battery life but typically have less processing power than full-sized laptops. They are very suitable for word processing, surfing the web, and connecting wirelessly to the Internet. Their small size makes them ultra-portable and convenient for travel. Find out more about netbook computers.
Like netbooks, tablets have smaller screens than laptops and are easily portable, lightweight, and offer extended battery life. They’re well-suited to Wi-Fi surfing, movie-watching, reading, and casual gaming. A key feature of tablets is a touchscreen interface—you navigate with your fingers rather than with a mouse and keyboard (though most tablets do include a virtual keyboard). Tablets that can be converted into laptops are known as convertibles. Learn more about tablets and convertibles, or check out the new, perfect-for-touch Surface from Microsoft.
Also known as a notebook, a laptop is a portable computer that you can take with you and use in different environments—on an airplane, in the library, in a temporary office, and at a meeting. It includes a screen, a keyboard, and a trackpad or trackball, which serves as a mouse. It has a battery, which allows you to use it on the go, plus a power adapter, which lets you use power from an outlet. New laptops can provide the speed and power of desktop computers, although usually at a higher price. A subnotebook is a smaller, lighter notebook; subnotebooks usually sacrifice hardware and ports, for example, to save space and weight. Find out more about laptop computers or browse some recommendations, and have a look at the super-thin, high-performance Ultrabooks with HD touchscreens optimized for Windows 8.
A desktop computer is designed to stay in one place. Desktops consist of several components—a tower that houses the central processing unit (CPU), a monitor, a separate keyboard, and connecting cables. Because they’re modular, each component can be replaced or upgraded separately, and because they’re not designed to be used on the go, screen size and memory capacity can be virtually as large as you want. Many monitors are now touch-enabled. Desktop computers are usually cheaper than laptops and are the most common type of computer used by households, businesses, schools, and other organizations. Find out more about desktop computers or browse some recommended Windows 8 desktops.
All-in-ones combine the computer and monitor into one component and generally take up less space than a desktop. Many come with a wireless mouse, keyboard, and remote control. Some also feature motion control and can be used as a high definition TV. Touchscreen capability is available. The integrated nature of all-in-ones can make upgrading hardware trickier than it is for desktop hardware, and the smaller size can result in lower performance. Find out more about all-in-one computers, or browse some recommendations.
For each computer type, there are many brands, models, and prices to choose from. Use our interactive PC Selector to find the computer perfectly suited to your needs. Then, visit the Microsoft Store to make your purchase.
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