This is the first in a beginners guide to help explain some of the terms you may encounter whilst using your computer.
Personal computers (pcs) come in all shapes and sizes but there are three basic types;
The desktop – this is the box that sits on (hence the name) or under a desk or table. Its size can vary but is generally around 16 x 16 x 8” (40 x 40 x 20cm) and although it usually stands upright some can also sit horizontally so that the monitor can be placed on top.
The desktop box houses the major components but to be able to be used as a personal computer it will need to have a keyboard, mouse and monitor connected.
The laptop is a combination of the desktop, keyboard, mouse and monitor all condensed into a flat device that opens like a book. The terms notebook, netbook and more recent derivatives such as Chromebook and Ultrabook are simply larger, smaller, lighter or faster variations. They are all designed to be small enough to carry comfortably and being portable means they can be powered by a battery in addition to a power outlet.
The tablet is fast becoming more popular than both the desktop and the laptop as a device for browsing the internet and connecting to social media, such as Facebook (more on this in a later blog). It can be held like a book and is currently available in two general sizes, the 7” (about the size of a paperback) and a 10” (just smaller than an A4 sheet of paper).
As the internal parts needed for a computer have vastly reduced in size over the last few years, this means that tablets can be incredibly thin, sometimes less than 1cm or ½” thick. They are all touch-screen, which means the mouse is redundant and the keyboard shows on the screen when required (although for typing some people still prefer to plug in a small external keyboard). Smart-phones can be classed as a slightly smaller version of the tablet.
Two other terms that are frequently used when discussing computers are hardware and software.
Hardware refers to the internal physical parts of a computer, for example the hard disk drive, the CD/DVD player, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and also any external equipment such as the mouse, printer and monitor.
Software is a broad term that refers to all programs/applications and data/information that can be stored electronically for instance; photos saved to a CD, an operating system such as Windows 8 and an anti-virus/internet security suite.
In my next blog I’ll go into more detail including tips on what to look out for when buying a new computer.
Click here to go to Part 2 – What is RAM, where’s my CPU and what’s a Port?