For Seniors: Differences between Desktops, Laptops, and Netbooks
Before you buy, you should understand the difference between desktop computers, laptops, and netbooks. Desktops, laptops and netbooks differ mostly in size and computing ability.
A desktop is a powerful computer that's not portable. Laptops and netbooks are portable computers. A netbook is a smaller, much less powerful laptop (in terms of computing power).
The difference between desktops and laptops/netbooks
The main difference between a desktop and laptop is their physical appearance, size, and weight. They also differ greatly in computing ability, although they both have an operating system such as Windows 7 or Mac OS X.
Appearance: A desktop computer is typically encased in a tower, into which you plug a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Some desktops have the brains of the computer incorporated into the monitor base.
A laptop has all its parts (including monitor, keyboard, mouse) in one unit and includes ports for plugging in peripherals such as a mouse, digital camera, MP3 player, or external CD/DVD drive (if the laptop doesn't have one).
Power source: A desktop computer is powered by plugging it into a wall outlet. A laptop contains a battery; you can run the laptop off of a charged battery, or plug the laptop into a wall outlet.
The difference between laptops and netbooks
Laptops and netbooks are similar, except that netbooks are lighter in weight, smaller, and more limited in computing ability.
Weight: Where laptops usually weigh in at about 4 to 7 pounds, netbooks weigh 2- pounds or-so.
Size: Netbooks have much smaller screens and keyboards than laptops. Some seniors are a bit challenged by netbooks' tiny keyboards.
Ability: Netbooks typically use the Windows 7 Starter operating system or something similar, which is not as powerful as the full Windows 7 OS laptops use. Still, netbooks can run almost any software a laptop can run, only perhaps more slowly (graphics-hungry games are the most notable exception here).
Less expensive: Netbooks offer a lower price point than laptops at about $250–$400 and have pretty good battery life, but some seniors are a bit challenged by their tiny keyboards.