The difference between laptops and notebooks + other tech jargon

With so many new products coming out every year there also comes new terminology. Currently there are many terms for computer devices, terminology such as netbooks, chromebooks, macbooks and ultrabooks can be difficult to distinguish. Then there are laptops as well. You might have come across some of the products mentioned above while shopping online and wondered what the difference is. In this article I will cover some of the more commonly used terminology in the consumer tech world. However keep in mind that this is simply a general guideline to what these terms mean, since currently many manufacturers use these terms interchangeably.


Laptops are named as such because they are small enough to rest on your lap. They were essentially designed to be portable desktop computers. And would therefore have many features found on a desktop computer. Features such as disc drives, multiple hard drives and USB ports are to be expected on laptops. Also programs that require heavy computational power could be run on laptops.


Notebooks are computers designed with portability in mind. They were designed to be lighter than laptops and easily fit in a briefcase while also being able to run productivity software and entertainment. However as technology progressed laptops became just as small as notebooks and thus the term notebook started being phased out. Currently there is practically no distinction between a notebook and a laptop.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels


A netbook is a portable computer used mainly for internet productivity. With a netbook most of your work will be done online. Because of this a netbook’s hardware components are extremely cheap and under powered which results in a lower price point. Netbooks were marketed as budget friendly devices for casual or personal use. However currently like the notebook, large manufacturers no longer market there devices under this term anymore.

Image by ADMC from Pixabay


The term ultrabook is actually a trademark of the Intel Corporation and describes products that meet the following specifications:

  • .787 in. tall with a screen less than 14″
  • .905 in. for devices with screens larger than 14″
  • At least 6 hours of HD video playback or 9 hours idle
    3 seconds to wake up from hibernation

Unlike netbooks, ultrabooks did not sacrifice performance and yet still maintained a thin and lightweight profile. In addition there are also Chromebooks and Macbooks, these are essentially Apple’s and Google’s own version of the ultrabook.

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