Anatomy of a laptop
When AccountingWEB.co.uk published its top 10 laptops recommended by and for accountants in January, several members asked for a bit of technical background. Not long after, Toshiba's European product marketing manager Emmanuel Guerritte took us on a detailed tour of the innards of one of the company's latest models, the ultra-light Portégé R600. Starting from around 779g, it's claimed to be the "lightest fully functioning laptop in the world".
The light weight is made possible partly by the use of Intel's range of ULV (ultra low voltage) microprocessors. As the illustration below shows, the manufacturer has also achieved a remarkable degree of miniaturisation of the motherboard electronics, which are squeezed into the compact space between the battery and disk drives. This configuration is designed for a serious business user - a serious gamer, for example, would probably prefer a bigger screen and a more powerful specialised graphics subsystem.
The short captions that follow give a brief description of the main components within the laptop and what they do.
For most users, battery life is probably a more important practical consideration than the machine's processor speed and storage capacity. Using a Lithium-ion battery rated at 5800 milliampere-hours (mAh), this battery is claimed to run the laptop for almost 8 hours.
One gigabyte (1GB) of random access memory (RAM) is contained on the four small chips shown here,with slot above them for either an extra 2GB or 4GB module.
An Intel SU9400 Core 2 Duo Processor (3M Cache, 1.40 GHz) powers this PC, but is obscured here by the heat-dissipating fan. Intel's website offers a detailed rundown of its processors and their capabilities.
Aside from the battery, the biggest element underneath the Portégé R600 bonnet is a 24x DVD optical disk drive, capable of reading and writing to CD-R and DVD-R disks. This is probably one of the smallest laptops to include an optical drive - if any smaller mini-notebooks have such a device, it's likely to be an optional, external drive.
In the past year or so, mobile network operators have become a major channel for laptops, and their mobile "dongles" have become a common sight. But why bother with an easy-to-lose piece of plastic? In this model, the 3G dongle and aerial are built into the laptop
160GB available on this hard disk, which is a spinning magnetic platen, read by delicate disk heads. This Toshiba model includes a built-in sensor to protect the heads if it detects rapid movements such as a fall. Hard disks take up space and are likely to be superseded by RAM-like solid state drives.