Up until the year 2008, the electronic market only sang the tune of laptops. Few others like tablet PCs, advanced PDAs, smartphones etc came and went, able to perform only the basic computing tasks. However, laptops were there, claiming work capacity equivalent to the powerful desktops. That was two years back.

An in depth analysis

Looking into the scenario just a year before, it was completely changed. Competition had arrived in the market to topple laptops. New terms and products were on offer, confusing the buyers even more – notebooks, netbooks, ultra-mobile PCs etc. While all these came and came to stay, users are still wondering what the difference between each is. While there is no universal definition to define these new terms and products, there is however a general guideline that can help us to differentiate between these:

• Most laptops, notebooks, netbooks and ultra-mobile PCs differ in just one thing – their size. While there are no specification with regards to the sizes of these various products, it has been generally noticed that a notebook in smaller than a laptop, a netbook smaller than a notebook and ultra mobile PCs are the smallest. Form-wise though, most of these are same – a screen and keyboard attached through hinges.

• To begin with, laptops evolved into notebooks as the manufacturers were able to pack the same technology in smaller sizes. For example, Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is too large to be considered a notebook. It is 17-inch in main screen, while 10 inch in secondary retractable screen. It is around 11 pounds and 2.1 inches in thickness. While this is portable, you would not like to carry it around the entire day now, would you? Instead, notebooks are around 12 to 17 inches in size and weigh about 5 to 6 pounds. There is not much difference, if any, between the processing speeds and other features of the two. However, manufacturers do charge a lot for the small size. Lenovo ThinkPad X300 is an example of a notebook. It is 13.3 inches and 3.2 pounds.

• Netbooks are comparatively new in the market and are considered to be smaller, less powerful and cheaper than notebooks. In most general terms, netbooks can be said to be around 12 inches in screen size and weighing only one or two pounds. These come within a range of $300 and $600. One of the example of a netbook is Asus EEE PC 4G.

• Lastly, ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), the term usually used for a Microsoft product, is a tablet computer – meaning it is a computer screen sans keyboard. The UMPCs are usually touch-screens, coming with a stylus and physical keys along side the screen. Like netbooks, UMPC are extremely light-weight and come in sizes ranging from 4 inches to 7 inches. Some UMPC also come with slide-in or -out QWERTY keyboards. One of the examples of UMPC would be Samsung’s Q1UP-XP Ultra Mobile PC, which is 7 inch, has LCD touch-screen display and weighs two pounds. It also showcases a split QWERTY keyboard on either side of the screen.

With so much on display in the market, it really comes to your actual requirements when you are out shopping.