What is a Portable Computer?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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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.


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Post 2

There are some advantages to portable computers. Yes, laptops have become a lot more powerful over the past couple of decades, but there is still a place for portable computers.

For example, the military gravitates to portables because they tend to be more rugged and can be houses in rugged cases that can take a lot of abuse. Also, they are easier to fix if things go wrong -- keyboards can be replaced and there's generally more room to work in a portable case than in a laptop. Of course, items such as graphics cards can be added, whereas that's next to impossible in a laptop.

Speaking of components, let's say you are a designer who wants the best

graphics available and multiple screens on which to work. You can't achieve those goals with a laptop, but you can with a portable.

By the way, "portable" doesn't mean the same thing that it did in the past. A modern portable computer is a lot lighter and easier to use than, say, the old Compaq PC clones that showed up in the 1980s.

Post 1

As laptops become more powerful and can replace desktops in terms of power in many instances, why bother with a portable computer these days? Are there any advantages over a good laptop?

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