A portable computer is a computer that has been designed to be easily transported from one location to another. These computers contain a separate display and keyboard. They can also be referred to as a mobile computer, a portable workstation, a portable personal computer (PC), a lunchbox computer or a luggable computer.
Many people refer to a laptop as a portable computer. While this is true in the general sense of the phrase, the designation of a portable computer usually is much more specific. When computer enthusiasts refer to a portable computer, they usually are speaking about computers that are larger than laptops but smaller than the standard desktop personal computer. Many of these portable computers are large enough to require handles or other modifications to make transporting them easier for the owner or handler of the device.
Some people argue that the greatest advantage of using a portable computer over other mobile computers such as laptops is that portable computers contain standard motherboards or backplanes. These allow for plug-in slots for add-in cards. Test cards, analog-to-digital (A/D) cards and communication protocol (IEEE-488, 1553) cards can, therefore, be added to the computers. Those looking for more disk storage and space can have it by using a portable computer, because portable computers use standard drives and can have more than one memory card.
Portable computers are bigger than laptops, but this is not the only difference. Portable computers can be further distinguished from laptops in that they do not rely on a battery power supply. Portable computers use an ATX motherboard and IBM Personal Series/2 (PS/2) power supply.
Other computers can be referred to as portable computers or mobile computers, though their designations as such can be controversial. These computers include the laptop, sub-notebook, pocket computer, personal digital assistant (PDA) and the wearable computer. Many of these are the size of a laptop or smaller and seem to be a practical cross between a laptop and a PDA device. Spin-offs of these devices, such as the Tablet PC, also can be grouped into this category.
Portable computers have become more popular among members of the public, with one of the main reasons being they are more likely to complement the modern, mobile lifestyle. Technological advancements, such as the advent of wireless Internet and its implementation in public and private places, also lend to the attractiveness of portable computers. Many portable computers are designed with ergonomics in mind, so potential computer owners should explore their portable computer options before looking into standard desktop computers.