Understanding Laptops for Beginners

There are various types of laptops available. Lets take a look at some of the common offerings on the market, from traditional laptops and desktop replacements to hybrid laptops and tablets.

Be sure to check out our guides on Windows 10, Mac OS and Essential Computing. They cover this tutorial in far more detail. Click the links for more details.

Traditional Laptop

Traditional laptops usually run Windows 10. You might see terms like entry level, medium – high range, and desktop replacements – might sound confusing but they all mean pretty much the same thing, except for the processing power, memory and storage. Entry level laptops are usually have low processing power and are best suited to web browsing, typing and email. If you need a bit more power for playing games, working with photographs or videos then perhaps a desktop replacement laptop will be a better choice as they’ll have more processing power and storage for your photos or videos.


These ChromeBooks look very much like traditional laptops but can’t run windows software and run their own apps available from the Google Store. They are very light weight and carry far less processing power and storage space than traditional laptops.

ChromeBooks run an Operating System called Chrome OS and are designed to run while connected to the internet.


An expensive alternative to a traditional laptop and runs its own Operating System called Mac OS.

Software is not compatible with traditional laptops running Windows, however Mac versions of most software are available.


Hybrids are a cross between a traditional laptop and a tablet computer. These usually have touch screens and can double as a tablet. They have detachable keyboards that you can remove or fold backwards. These are great for email, web browsing, word processing and are particularly good for drawing apps and note taking apps that allow you to use a pen stylus to draw/write directly onto the screen. They are quite light on processing power and storage, however the Microsoft Surface tablets are starting to incorporate more power into their design and can run Microsoft Office suite and some games.

Check out Essential Computing: Concepts of ICT for details on decoding computer specifications and jargon.

Laptop Navigation

As infuriating as they are, most laptops have what is known as a track pad located just under the keyboard. This thing allows you to move your mouse pointer on the screen and select various icons.

You can use what are known as gestures to perform certain functions. Here’s a few of the basics.

Tap & Drag

You can move your mouse pointer across the screen by using one finger on the track pad. Tap your finger on the pad to select an icon and is the equivalent of your left mouse click.

Two Finger Scroll

You can scroll down web pages and documents using two fingers on the track pad.


Pinch gesture allows you to zoom into a picture or map.

Be sure to check out our guides on Windows 10, Mac OS and Essential Computing. Click the links for more details.

Until next time.

Have fun.