(3) Personal computers to go? Weighing in at 10 to 12 pounds, batteries
included (with an additional pound or two for the AC adapter that runs the machine on
house current), these computers are light enough for the lap, light enough to move from
room to room, dorm to library, or office to home. But carrying 12 to 14 pounds from one
end of an airport to the other quickly brings home the fact that lap-tops have yet to be
truly portable. That is why the trend in lap-tops is toward even greater miniaturization.
Four-pound, notebook-sized, lap-tops do exist. But additional refinements are needed
to meet the needs of the serious computer user. These super lightweight models, which
run as high as 00 at this writing, work best as a kind of notebook supplement for
someone who works mainly on another machine. With no built-in disk, inadequate
memory (enough for only a few pages of text), poor display, keyboard, and data-
storage, and short battery-life, the user must judge whether portability and compactness
are worth these inconveniences and several hundred dollars. That is the price
difference between a lap-top and a comparable desk top.
(4) Keyboard. The layout and the feel of the keyboard leave much to be
desired, with the hunt-and-peck typist more likely to feel at ease than the touch typist.
(5) Screen. The screen in the early lap-tops uses a simple, reflective liquid
crystal display, or LCD, similar to the display found on digital watches. In some light,
you can read the screen only when it's angled a certain way. Later models use an
improved backlit LCD screen, which supplies its own light. Though better, you still have
to adjust the screen angle to see properly. A newer technology, involving gas plasma -
something like neon light, provides greater clarity, but it uses so much power that gas-
plasma lap-tops, priced currently at 00, can't run on batteries.
(6) Display. Lap-tops can run programs that use graphic elements such as
pie charts, bar graphs, and the like, in addition to characters. Colors are represented by
shades of gray, or a color monitor can be plugged in.
(7) Memory. Lap-tops come with an ample amount of memory, or RAM
(640K), enough to run even heavyweight business programs. And they can be outfitted
with extended RAM memories of 1200K or more. (1K equals 7,024 bytes or 1,024
characters of type.)
(8) Disk drives. A 3 1/2-inch floppy disk is the standard disk drive for lap-
tops. Such floppies have a capacity of 720K or 1.4m each, which is equivalent to about
720 pages of double-spaced type-written text. Lap-tops are equipped with two drives,
which provide ample flexibility, speed, and portability. The floppy plus hard disk drive
option raises the price up to 00. But this combination is needed for business users.
Hard drives hold more information than floppies and can thus handle more complex,
bulkier programs and are faster.