Semi-portable powerhouses: Laptops to replace the PC
Hanover: Laptops long ago usurped desktop PCs in terms of sales figures. Yet not all laptops are used on the go. Many are intended as a replacement for desktop computers.
Such notebooks often include powerful processors, beefy graphics and displays that measure 16 inches or more diagonally.
They approach standard desktop PCs in terms of power and performance, says Christian Woelbert from Germany`s c`t magazine.
"They have state-of-the-art processors, numerous ports and in many cases respectable graphics cards," Woelbert says.
The major benefit of a laptop-as-desktop-replacement is the mobility, explains J. Simon Leitner from the online magazine Notebookcheck. Because the devices weigh at least three kilograms, they are somewhat less portable than smaller laptops and netbooks, but when necessary, the owner can close the device and bring it wherever it needs to go.
"Within an apartment, the laptop then functions both as a multimedia station in the living room and as a workstation in the home office," Woelbert says. Another added plus: the laptop saves space compared with a traditional desktop PC.
An additional benefit over smaller laptops is the higher image resolution, explains Haris Musemic, product manager at hardware maker Asus. In addition, more ports are typically included to provide users with greater connectivity options.
Better loudspeakers and integrated amplifiers also provide superior sound quality over smaller laptops.
Mid-range to high-end processors with three or four cores are typically used in these beefier notebooks as well. These are often comparable to processors from standard desktop PCs, Leitner explains.
Four gigabytes of RAM are considered standard and the memory can be upgraded if free memory slots are available.
Buyers should look for a quick processor and powerful graphics card. Another necessary element for a genuine PC replacement is a generous number of ports, enough to allow for a mouse, printer and external hard drive to be plugged into the computer simultaneously.
The display should not just be high resolution; it should also have been checked out in advance for brightness, viewing angles and mirroring, Leitner advises.
When it comes to price, desktop-replacement laptops fall into roughly the same category as all-round and multimedia laptops, Leitner explains. Classic desktop PCs remain in a more affordable price segment. Cheap laptop models are available for as little as $500, according to Woelbert.
"If you want a Blu-ray drive and a big display, you`ll be handing out at least $700," he says. All current desktop-replacement laptops include at least a DVD drive nowadays.
Hardcore computer gamers are probably better off sticking with a desktop PC because that`s where the fastest graphics chips can be found.
"If you tend to work in one place and don`t have space concerns, then a traditional PC remains a better choice, not least because of price," says Musemic.
A desktop replacements makes the most sense for users who want to access data from the office, home office and on the go as well.
While desktop replacements are a reasonable mobile workstation, they are generally inferior to desktop PCs in one important area, according to Woelbert: ergonomics. Because the screen and keyboard on a laptop cannot be separated, they also cannot be reconfigured for optimal use.
"That means that for the daily eight hours in front of a computer at the office or at home, we can`t recommend desktop replacement laptops," he says.
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