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Mobile Computing
by John Anthony

When this website went live in 2000 personal computers had been around about 20 years and were available in desk-top models only.

Since then the desk-top 'pancake' case has virtually disappeared, replaced by the floor standing tower case.

Coming right on the heels of the desk-top was the first mobile computing platform, the laptop. The first ones were actually rather large and clunky. As the form moved toward a smaller clam shell case, it took off quickly and eventually passed desk-tops in sales.

In 2010 a smaller mobile computing platform, the tablet, appeared. The iPad tablet enjoyed rapid success and surpassed the laptop in sales in 2013.

For 2015 tablets are on track to outsell desktops and laptops combined as Steve Jobs predicted they would just months after the Ipad was released.

Some statisitics lump desktops and laptops together as PCs. Others like Statista track them separately.

As of 2014, sales for the number of computing platforms shipped according to statista.com were:

desk-tops: 135 million
laptops: 175 million
tablets: 230 million

Some might argue otherwise, but I would add the smartphone to this list of mobile computing platforms as it meets the basic requirements of one.

  • Built around a computational core running an operating system.
  • Offers the same basic set of inputs and outputs providing access to the services modern users expect such as office and other productivity software, Internet access to web sites, Email and social media.
  • Has internal and expandable (not in Iphones) external memory.
  • Wireless adapters and cameras are native to some and easily added to others not initially so equipped.
  • USB connectors are found in all and provide connectivity to many types of add-on hardware devices.


Laptop
The laptop, sometimes called a notebook, provides the same desk-top function in a very small, compact, portable unit and utilizes the same hardware components except for the PC case and mouse with the keyboard and display being integrated components.

Laptops displays are smaller at 11-15 inches compared to desktop monitors of up to 30 inches.

Laptops typically have an integrated WI-FI adapter for modem or router connection to the Internet.

The battery can be removed without any tools while access to the hard disk and memory modules may require removing a few screws. All of the other hardware components require significant disassembly to access.

The laptop uses a clamshell case construction that folds up when not in use. When open the keyboard is in the half closest to the user and the display in the other half is upright for viewing.

A touch pad and two buttons are located in the lower center area of the keyboard. The touch pad is used to move the cursor around screen by sliding your finger across it. The two buttons replicate the left and right mouse button functions.

A wired or wireless external mouse can be used with the laptop by connecting the mouse or the pod for wireless mouse to any USB port on the laptop.

The perimeter around the keyboard half contains ports used to connect input and output devices. There may be others but the basic ports include:
  • Display port (15 pin D-shell) used to drive an external display if needed.
  • USB ports (the number varies with the manufacturer and model)
  • RJ-45 jack (8-pin) used for wired Ethernet connection.
  • Headphone Out jack
  • Microphone in jack
  • Power In jack used with an AC adaptor providing low voltage power.
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Camera in newer models

Tablet
The tablet can be thought of as a lower power laptop without the keyboard.

Here are some of the key feature differences.

RAM memory: Laptop 5 - 20 GB, Tablet 1 - 3 GB.

Disk Space: Laptop 320 GB - 1 TB, Tablet 32 GB of flash RAM.

Screens: Laptop 11 - 14 inches, Tablet 7-10 inches.

Battery Life: Laptop 5 - 6 hours, Tablet 10 - 14 hours

Tablet content navigation is done by finger tapping, swiping and pinching the screen, and by voice access which is a natural way to communicate.
For those who do a lot of typing the physical keyboard of a laptop provides more comfort, speed and accuracy.

Tablets offer Wifi and cellular connectivity (in some models) while laptops typically offer Wifi only.

Tablets also have built in GPS while laptops generally do not.

Tablets do have input output ports like found on a Laptop. although some models may have USB port.


Hybrid 2 in 1
This device has the characteristics of a tablet and includes a detachable keyboard or a keyboard that can be folded up and hidden.


Smart Phone
This device began as a simple mobile phone and over a few generations of improvement morphed into a smart phone with a powerful processor core full of many rich features surrounded by specialized input output functions.

It is closest to the tablet in what it does. It's smaller size makes it easy to carry around and use to surf the Internet, use social media (texts, tweets, instagrams etc.), play MP3s, play movies, take pictures and videos and of course make phone calls.

The smartphone world like the PC world divided in to two camps, iPhones from Apple and Android phones from Samsung, HTC, LG and others. iPhones run the Iphone Operating System (IOS). Android is the name of the operating system from Google that runs the Samsungs and other non-Apple phones.

Apple operates today much like it did in the 1980s when the Apple computer and the IBM PC were first released.
The Apple operating system was exclusively geared toward it's own Apple hardware and it's I/O structure was held under tight wraps.

Microsoft went a different way and made Windows adaptable to many hardware platforms with an open I/O architecture. This open approach enabled 3rd party developers to build many custom applications for Windows based machines.

Fast forward to today and it is no surprise that 91% of PCs worldwide are Windows based while only 5% are Apple MAC OS based with 4% being other OS like LInux.

The Andriod world of phones offers higher screen resolution, more screen size options, more ruggedness, expandable memory through SD slots, any file type transfer from phone to PC, and three control buttons: back, home, settings,. Iphones have a single control button, a feature Steve Jobs insisted on. rule

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