10 Types of Computers


Netbooks and Tablets

iPad drawing
A user draws the bones of the hand on Apple's 9.7-inch iPad during an event held to introduce the device at Lane Tech College Prep High School on March 27, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Netbooks are ultra-portable computers that are even smaller than traditional laptops. The extreme cost-effectiveness of netbooks (roughly $200) means they're cheaper than almost any brand-new laptop you'll find at retail outlets. However, netbooks' internal components are less powerful than those in regular laptops [source: Krynin].

Netbooks first appeared in 2007, primarily as a means for accessing the internet and web-based applications, from email, to music and movie streaming, to web surfing. They're incredibly compact, but as a result, their specifications list often resembles a very stripped-down laptop. They have small displays (as small as 6 or 7 inches or 15-18 centimeters), little storage capacity (perhaps maxing out at 64GB), and sometimes skimp on or altogether skip data ports (like USB or HDMI) that traditional laptops wield. A lot of netbooks come from small manufacturers, as the big guns can't be bothered with the low profit margins of these cheaper machines [source: Lenovo].

Because they have relatively sluggish processors and little memory, netbooks can't do the heavy lifting for graphics applications or hardcore games. Instead, they're best for the task that gives them their name: web surfing [source: Krynin].

Tablets have largely replaced the niche netbooks occupied. Tablets are thin, flat devices that look like larger versions of smartphones. They were first manufactured in 2000 by Lenovo, but popularized by Apple in 2010 with the release of its iPad [source: Bort].

Tablets can do pretty much all the functions that laptops do, but don't have the internal fans that PCs have. So they have to rely on lower-performing processors that won't use as much heat or battery power. They also have less storage capacity than traditional PCs. Older tablets used the same operating systems as mobile phones but the newer tablets use a full operating system such as Micrsoft Windows 10 [source: Lenovo].

Tablets are more portable than PCs, have a longer battery life yet can also do smartphone-like activities such as taking photos, playing games and drawing with a stylus. For those who like the keyboard functionality of a laptop, some tablets come with a keyboard (attached or detachable), allowing you to combine the best of both worlds.