One of the great things about computers is their versatility; you can buy one that sits on your desk and stays there, ever ready to do as you command, or you can buy something portable such as a notebook, netbook or laptop, which lets you carry your computer around with you so you can work or play on it wherever you may roam.
The thing is though, there are differences between the two that aren’t really all that apparent when you’re imagining how you will use your new computer.
For the most part, those people who buy desktop computers do so because they want a big box with a lot of power and a great screen. On the other hand, those that go for portable computers are wanting to be able to work wherever they go, which becomes ever easier as more WiFi hotspots become available.
The thing is though, there are differences between the two types of computers that aren’t always mentioned in advertisements for the two kinds of computers.
One of the first is that the manufacturing processes are different. Because box computers can be mass produced as parts and then assembled in different ways, they are not always engineered to run as a complete system, which means you might not be getting as good of performance as you’re being led to believe. But, because portable computers are engineered to run as a complete system, you wind up with less ability to customize them, something that you may regret if you find your computer doesn’t have enough memory for example, to run the applications you have in mind, or all the ports you need to plug in all your peripherals.
Another difference between the two is when things go wrong. With a desktop computer, if you have a problem with your screen, keyboard, or mouse, you simply replace those things. With a portable computer, you generally have to send in the whole thing and let them replace the parts that are not working right, which more often than not results in a hard drive that is empty when you get it back.
Also, speaking of things going wrong, it’s a well known industry secret that portable computers don’t last as long as desktops (SquareTrade did some research and found that nearly 1 in 3 laptops will fail within three years, see references below) while the shelf life of a desktop is considered to be longer because it doesn’t have the same heat issues as portable computers. While this may or may not also be due to how particular computers are treated by their owners, the fact remains, that when you buy a portable computer, you’re in essence agreeing to the unwritten rule that you’re computer won’t last as long as a desktop and you’ll be back to buy a new one sooner that you would be if you were to buy a desktop.
Also, there is the fact that a lot of people who buy portable computers wind up using them in the same place all the time, which means they could have bought a desktop in the first place and saved themselves some money.