Your laptop glossary – laptop terminology explained

Your laptop glossary – laptop terminology explained

Are you confused by all the terminology when buying a laptop? Look no further, I’ve got the ultimate laptop glossary for you right here. It’s important to know your ABC’s. 

I can imagine you buying a laptop and thinking “what the f#@ is a RAM? And why do I need it?” Well, in a day and age where everybody has a laptop, it’s not such a bad thing to know a thing or two about laptop specs. Of course you want to make an informed decision when you buy a new computer. Especially since it’s such an expensive item. Next time you’re in the store, impress the guys at the counter, and pick up the best laptop yourself! No help needed, thank you very much.

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Laptop Glossary

A – Average use

In this post, I’m assuming you are an average user. Meaning: you use your laptop for personal use, to do schoolwork and occasionally watch a movie.

B – Battery

Battery life is so important if you’re a remote worker. Sometimes, you just can’t plug in somewhere. Look at your laptop behavior, and determine what battery life is best for you: <3 hours, 3-6 hours, or >6 hours.

C – Chromebook

I get many questions about Chromebooks. What exactly is it? A Chromebook is a laptop that uses the Google Chrome operating system. This means that most apps (programs) and documents are stored in a cloud. The Chromebook should therefore be used with an internet connection. So, if you are an average user, this might be a good option if you’re on a budget.

D – DVD/CD Drive

Back in the days before streaming services were mainstream, most laptops had a DVD drive so that people could play music and movies. Since the rise of Netflix and Spotify, a DVD drive isn’t a must-have anymore. As an average user, I don’t think you need it  unless you want to burn CD’s and DVD’s. Mind you, however, having a DVD drive in your laptop makes it bigger in size and heavier to carry.

E – Emojis

I’m an emoji addict, and I use them everywhere. So happy new emojis are coming btw. Fellow addicts will probably appreciate Macbook’s touch bar. When writing an email or imessage, you can use the touch bar to insert emojis. (Displaying emojis is just one of the many features of the touch bar.)

F – Full HD

Display resolution! Basically, we’re talking about the amount of pixels that are present in the rows and columns on your screen. If you’re born before the 90’s, you might remember those tv screens where you could see little dots. Those dots are pixels. Nowadays, you’ll have to look really close to find a pixel. And even then, I’m sure you can’t see one.

When choosing display (or screen) resolution, you need to know what you are going to use your laptop for. For average use, Full HD (or HD) should do the trick. If you are a gamer, 4K might be a better option. Basically, the more pixels, the better because images can be enlarged without losing their quality. The term retina display is only used on Apple devices. A retina screen has such a high pixel density, the human eye is not able to tell there are pixels.

G – Gaming

Like I said, in this blogpost I assume you are an average user. If, however, you are a gamer, you will want a laptop that has a higher screen resolution, more RAM, and definitely an SSD drive. You’ll also want to look at a longer battery live and ports to connect accessories.

H – HDMI – High-Definition Multimedia Interface

You’ve probably heard of an HDMI cable before. It’s a cable that transfers image and sound. Some laptops have an HDMI port so that you can connect your laptop to your television, for example. This way you can view your photo album slideshow on a bigger screen. If this is something you would want to do, make sure you buy a laptop with an HDMI port.

I – Inch

And by inches, I mean screen size. The most standard size for a laptop is between 13 and 16 inches. Screen size is measured diagonally.

K – KG – ok…weight, but I already had a “w” term in mind

My stance on a laptop’s weight? Less is better. The whole point of a laptop is to have a computer with you on the go. Why carry all the weight? Personally, I don’t like to carry more than 3kg (6 pounds). And don’t forget about carrying chargers, too!

L – Linux

Linux is a type of operating system. It’s special because it’s Open Source software, meaning everyone can help develop it. It’s also free to download and you can use in on as many computers as you want. Is Linux something for you? Maybe. There are different versions (or distributions) of Linux available, and some are for accessible for average users (or beginners). But for average users, mainstream operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X should offer enough possibilities.

M – Media-card (or SD card) slots

A media-card slot on a laptop can be a real lifesaver for photographers. Just pop-in the SD card and all the pictures are on the computer. Is it a necessity on your laptop? Not really, it’s more of a nice-to-have feature. I have to admit that I never use my media-card slot, but it can by quite handy for transferring media such as images or videos.

N – Notebook

Laptop. Notebook. Tomato, tomato. Potato, potato. Same difference. A notebook is just a different name for a laptop. A netbook, however, is a smaller version of a notebook and meant for simple tasks such as writing documents or using internet. A netbook doesn’t have a CD/DVD player.

O – Operating system

An operating system is like a translator between software and hardware. It translate what the software is saying to the processor. Macbooks listen to Mac OS X, and a Dell listens to Windows, for example. Of course, as you’ve seen above, Linux is also an operating system.

Choosing an operating system that works for you, is a personal preference. If you use a laptop at home or for work/school you can use both Mac OS X or Windows.

P – Processor

The processor might be the most important part of the computer. This chip controls the computer; it drives the calculations. Typically, the bigger the capacity of the processor, the more calculations and actions it can handle.

You know that sound your laptop makes when you’re using many different programs at the same time? That’s the fan keeping the processor cool. When using your laptop intensively, the processor heats up. The fan is there to cool it off and to make sure the processor still functions properly. Or,  of course, you could close some of your applications…

Q – Querty

Querty is a type of keyboard. Its name is of course based on the first top left letters you see on a keyboard (QWERTY). Why the querty keyboard and not just ABC’s in order of the alphabet you might ask? Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter, found that letters in alphabetical order caused problems when typing because the most-used letters were next to each other causing the typewriter to get stuck.

Not all countries use querty keyboards. France and Belgium use an AZERTY keyboard, for example. The Colemak keyboard is designed especially for ergonomical reasons. Then again, Querty keyboards also differs between America and other English speaking countries. A keyboard is just a matter of what you’re used to, and what you learned to type on.

R – RAM or random-access memory

You’ve probably heard of the RAM before. RAM is your computer’s memory and it stores temporary files. Basically, the more RAM you have, the more programs you can run at the same time. Also, if you’re a big Photoshop user or use film editing software a lot, you might need more RAM to make your computer run smoothly.

S – SSD or solid state drive

SSD is a type of storage. It determines how many files and programs you can store on your computer. SSD is a type of flash drive, and that means that it stores data even if you turn off your computer. Another type of flash drive is the HDD (hard disk drive). Now, the SSD is faster than HDD, but HDD is cheaper. If you’re a “regular” laptop user, SDD will be just fine. SDD is also more common among creatives who use the laptop for graphic design or making music.

Now, what’s the difference between memory (RAM) and storage (SSD)? Memory is temporary. If you open a file on your computer, you are moving it from storage to memory. When you work on it, save the changes and close it, it goes back to storage. That’s why changes you made to a file right before your computer crashed are never saved. They were temporary.

T – Touch screen

Touch screen laptops are on the market! Although, you probably wouldn’t think of buying one right away. Let me tell you, I have tried touch screen laptops. Personally, I’m not a fan. The first reason is because you have to hold your hand in a weird positition if you want to touch anything on the screen. The second reason is the fact that if the screen is soft, it feels like you’re breaking the screen.

But, to each their own. Touch screen laptops are a bit more expensive than a normal laptop. If you are really set on a touch screen, a tablet (together with a seperate keyboard), might be a good alternative.

Laptop glossary


I’ve talked about this before…I need more USB ports. When buying a laptop, consider how many appliances you are going to connect to your computer at once, and on what side! USB sticks are still pretty popular. So, do yourself a favor and have at least 1 USB port on your laptop.

V – Voltage

The voltage on a laptop indicates how much energie is being sent from the battery to the laptop. Before replacing your charger, always check what voltage your original charger has! Just because a charger fits on your laptop, does not mean it has the right voltage. You can find the voltage on the power brick of your charger. Unless you want your devices to explode, of course 😉

W – Wifi

A wifi connection is crucial. That is why most laptops have a wifi connection built in. Signal strength varies, however. If your laptop’s wifi signal is not strong enough, you can always consider buying a seperate strong wifi receiver.

Y – Yoga

No, not the sport. Lenovo’s Yoga laptops are very bendable indeed. Laptops with screens that can bend all the way back are very easy to take with you on the road. Having a screen that is flexible makes it possible to use your laptop as a tablet as well (especially if it’s a touch screen laptop). Consider how and when you are going to use your laptop, and if a hybrid screen would be a good option for you!

Some laptop suggestions

Laptop glossary

Chromebook Acer 11 CB3-131-C2E2  (NL) | Acer Chromebook R11 CB5-132T (International)

laptop glossary

Macbook Air 13 inch (NL) |Apple MacBook Air (International)

laptop glossary

Lenovo Yoga IdeaPad (NL) | Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 510-14ISK (International)



  1. 04/19/2017 / 10:54

    Thanks! I think I’m going to study (parts of) this, to impress my husband with my new tech-knowledge….

  2. 04/22/2017 / 15:57

    Very helpful post for those who are unfamiliar with tech things! xxx Sophie

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