A laptop, a computer, or a notebook? [Especially AE]

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VenVes

Member
Malay or Bahasa Melayu
Hi,

I was wondering what do Americans call for a laptop? In my country, Malaysia, we call laptops as, laptops.

But I was wondering whether the Americans call them laptops too or not?

I mean, generally speaking, of course. What do you, if you're an American, born, live, and breathe that free country, call a laptop as? Would you call it 'a laptop', or just 'a computer', OR is it 'a notebook' ?

And if I were to make a statement, should I say:

My Laptop is a Dell. OR
My computer is a Dell. OR
My notebook is a Dell. Which one is generally used by Americans specifically?

Hope I made my point clear. I apologize if my English is not perfect. And thank you in advance!
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    My American take on the subject:

    Laptop -- this is the term I use most because I think people generally fill in the missing "computer" in their minds: laptop computer.
    Notebook -- if others I'm talking to use "notebook," then I will, but I don't use it too often because there are paper notebooks in general use, so I would need to know that the person will understand what I'm talking about. If I use "notebook," I normally say it in full: notebook computer.
    Computer -- this isn't specific enough for me. When I hear computer, I think desktop computer, and would never think of a laptop or notebook computer.

    Welcome to the forum. :)
     

    VenVes

    Member
    Malay or Bahasa Melayu
    My American take on the subject:

    Laptop -- this is the term I use most because I think people generally fill in the missing "computer" in their minds: laptop computer.
    Notebook -- if others I'm talking to use "notebook," then I will, but I don't use it too often because there are paper notebooks in general use, so I would need to know that the person will understand what I'm talking about. If I use "notebook," I normally say it in full: notebook computer.
    Computer -- this isn't specific enough for me. When I hear computer, I think desktop computer, and would never think of a laptop or notebook computer.

    Welcome to the forum. :)
    Thank you for your warm welcome! I'm looking forward to enjoying my stay here on wordreference.com forum site :)

    Also, Thank you very much for sharing your opinions :) Very informative.
    I would really love to hear other users opinions as well :)
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Computer -- this isn't specific enough for me. When I hear computer, I think desktop computer, and would never think of a laptop or notebook computer.
    Hmm, this is interesting to me. I have no problem with using computer to mean laptop​. In fact, I do it all the time.
     

    VenVes

    Member
    Malay or Bahasa Melayu
    Hmm, this is interesting to me. I have no problem with using computer to mean laptop​. In fact, I do it all the time.
    So, do you mean, you will use, "My computer is a Dell." instead of notebook, or laptop, ribran? I noticed you are from Austin, Texas. Then, thank you for your own opinions, ribran ;)

    I do would love to hear others more SOLID opinion on the general usage of these terms by Americans themselves :)
    (Sorry for my imperfect English.)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    When I'm talking to people my age, I can use the more general term because almost none of us have desktops.
    After I read your response, I thought to myself that the new generation probably doesn't have desktops. :) In which case, a computer could only mean one thing -- the laptop or notebook they're carrying around.

    All of which goes back to context. If I were in a meeting with several people and one said he had to go get his computer, I would know it was a laptop/notebook because he's going to bring it back to the meeting. Or if someone referred to their computer and was carrying a laptop/notebook, I would know exactly what he meant. So the term you (or I) would use will depend on the situation and maybe your age group. ;)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I do would love to hear others more SOLID opinion on the general usage of these terms by Americans themselves :)
    (Sorry for my imperfect English.)
    We will have to forgive your English because ribran and myself are both American and we are both offering very solid opinions. :D
     

    VenVes

    Member
    Malay or Bahasa Melayu
    After I read your response, I thought to myself that the new generation probably doesn't have desktops. :) In which case, a computer could only mean one thing -- the laptop or notebook they're carrying around.
    Haha. True. True :)

    All of which goes back to context. If I were in a meeting with several people and one said he had to go get his computer, I would know it was a laptop/notebook because he's going to bring it back to the meeting. Or if someone referred to their computer and was carrying a laptop/notebook, I would know exactly what he meant. So the term you (or I) would use will depend on the situation and maybe your age group. ;)
    Copyright and ribran, thank you VERY MUCH for your opinions! I'm actually trying to make a survey in this anime forum about what laptops brands do the members there use. So, my idea for the title initially was, "My laptop is a........*please fill in your laptop brand*......". You think I should use which term in this case then???

    For the other users reading this thread, please do not hesitate to lend me your own opinions on this topic. I'd really appreciate everyone's unique intelligence here ;)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    If you specifically want laptop/notebook brands, they you need to use one of those terms, with or without "computer" on the end. But if you want to include people on desktop computers, then you should probably just say "What is the brand of your computer?" It depends on how detailed you want to get.
     

    VenVes

    Member
    Malay or Bahasa Melayu
    Well, my idea is something with the general 'flip-open and flip close' built-in functionality(is that what you call it?) or something like this one here:



    I've made my decision, however. I'll use laptop then.

    But to other users reading this post, please share with me your own opinions on this topic. I wouldn't mind getting different views from others. The younger the better. Because I bet the anime forum I'm targeting on is youth-dominated :D Not that I'm saying you're too old for this topic, Copyright :) I'd truly appreciate it, everyone!
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    My computer experience began with mainframe computers and terminals. Then came personal (as opposed to communal) computers that sat on the desktop. Early portable ones could be carried but not used on a lap. Then came those small enough to be used on a lap. Laptop is a category now that distinguishes them from desktop. However, there are many different kinds/sizes in the category. I personally think a notebook is smaller than the earlier laptops, and a netbook is smaller still. Often the terms used are marketing rather than real descriptors "ultrabook!". I think you are right to choose laptop as the broadest category.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Notebook and laptop are both specific kinds of computers. The names do not overlap and are not synonymous. An experienced computer user would be able to tell by looking which is which in almost all cases. (There are a few which try to be both at once - usually unsuccessfully.)

    A laptop is a one-piece portable computer, with batteries sufficient to run it for several hours. It has (usually) some kind of drive for external discs (floppy, CD or DVD) as well as an internal hard drive. The display screen is hinged to the rear edge of the main body of the computer which has an embedded keyboard and some kind of mouse-analog (a trackball or touchpad). The display screen will typically be from 11" to 19" diagonally. It is generally used on a table, but may be used actually in the lap.

    A notebook is a smaller one-piece computer, also hinged, with with the keyboard in one half and the display in the other. It will have a hard drive (or solid-state hard drive), but probably not a drive for external discs; the keyboard is likely to be much smaller than standard. Its batteries will probably run it for a lot longer than a laptop. The display will usually be from 6" to 10" diagonally. These are frequently held in the hands while in use and typing may be done with just the two thumbs, although it may be possible to place a notebook computer on a table and type (with difficulty) using all ten fingers and thumbs.

    There are many other kinds of personal computers: one-piece desktop; regular desk-tops; pads; netbooks; smart phones; palm-tops; shoe-box; and many more. It isn't just size that distinguishes them, but capabilities as well. You can find more HERE.
     
    Last edited:

    drewster1829

    New Member
    English - American
    A notebook is a smaller one-piece computer, also hinged, with with the keyboard in one half and the display in the other. It will have a hard drive (or solid-state hard drive), but probably not a drive for external discs; the keyboard is likely to be much smaller than standard. Its batteries will probably run it for a lot longer than a laptop. The display will usually be from 6" to 10" diagonally. These are frequently held in the hands while in use and typing may be done with just the two thumbs, although it may be possible to place a notebook computer on a table and type (with difficulty) using all ten fingers and thumbs.
    What you describe is a netbook, not a notebook computer. I use the terms laptop and notebook computer interchangeably, and that's the way I've heard them used in everyday usage.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    You seem to be asking in a subjective way how Americans use these terms. This is my take, which is very subjective. I am in my 40s but am a geek and an early adopter of technology and probably see this similarly to your animé audience:

    laptop what normal people call a portable computer
    notebook what salespeople call the same thing
    computer any type of computer, whether a desktop or a laptop. When the type of computer is not important I use this. If a friend asks me for an address of another friend I might say, "Hold on, I have it on my computer. Let me get it for you!" If a friend asks me how I'm going to work in France I might say, "I'll have my laptop with me."
    laptop computer completely idiotic. maybe they said this in 1980.
     

    drewster1829

    New Member
    English - American
    You seem to be asking in a subjective way how Americans use these terms. This is my take, which is very subjective. I am in my 40s but am a geek and an early adopter of technology and probably see this similarly to your animé audience:

    laptop what normal people call a portable computer
    notebook what salespeople call the same thing
    computer any type of computer, whether a desktop or a laptop. When the type of computer is not important I use this. If a friend asks me for an address of another friend I might say, "Hold on, I have it on my computer. Let me get it for you!" If a friend asks me how I'm going to work in France I might say, "I'll have my laptop with me."
    laptop computer completely idiotic. maybe they said this in 1980.
    I wrote that in the wrong order. I mean notebook computer and laptop are interchangeable. The reason why I would say notebook computer and not notebook is because notebook can also refer to a paper notebook (such as a spiral-bound notebook). I would not say laptop computer. I think the reason many stores/manufacturers don't call them laptops anymore is because of people who would sue from getting burned from holding them on their laps. Personally, I almost always (99% of the time) call them laptops, and I agree that computer refers to either a desktop computer or laptop.
     
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