Laptops have different components like the motherboard, memory, ports and sockets that work together to provide the functionality of the laptop. You can connect different devices to the laptop with the help of the ports. The infrared ports on a laptop enable wireless connections.
The motherboard is the most important component of the laptop. It connects directly or indirectly to all the components of the laptop. Laptop motherboards have very advanced features.
Laptops have RAM and ROM, similar to ordinary desktop computers. However, the memory modules of laptops are different as compared to desktop computers. The laptops mostly use Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module (SODIMM). These modules are small in size and have capacities between 16 MB to 1GB. Laptops generally have a minimum of 64 MB of RAM.
The microprocessor is the central unit that co-ordinates all the functions of the laptop. It performs all the operations of the laptop, according to instructions from the operating system. Laptop microprocessors have additional features that enable reduction of power consumption. Laptop microprocessors also have multiple sleep modes. They operate at lower voltages. This increases the battery life. The features of a laptop microprocessor are :
The microprocessor stores its instructions in the memory. It refers to the memory periodically when it is performing a task.
It receives data input from the user though a mouse, keyboard, trackball, or touchpad.
It sends data output to the user through the monitor. It also sends data output to other devices such as the printer or modem. It also enables data transfer though networks.
The microprocessor receives data through different storage devices like CD/DVD drives, floppy drives, or hard drives. It can also store data in disks by using these devices.
The Hard Drive is present internally in all laptops. This drive stores the operating system, applications and data. A laptop hard drive generally has a capacity between 6 and 80 GB. A laptop hard drive works in the same manner as a desktop hard drive. However, due to space limitations, the disk space is limited on laptop hard drives
CD and DVD Drives
The CD and DVD drives on the laptop enable data transfer to CDs and DVDs. You can also store data on CDs and DVDs from the laptop. Some laptops have a single bay where you can interchange the drive inserted in the bay. Other laptops can have multiple bays for different drives. There are certain laptops that have no bay in the structure. Such laptops are designed this way to keep the size and weight of the laptop to a minimum.
All laptops have batteries as an alternate source of power. Laptops are portable because they are powered by batteries. The different types of batteries used by laptops include nickel-cadmium, lithium ion and nickel-metal hydride. Nickel cadmium batteries were in wide use previously. They offered good output at a low cost to the earlier laptop users. However, the lithium ion and nickelmetal hydride batteries are popular presently.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries were introduced with several improvements over the nickel cadmium batteries. However, both nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries have a drawback called the memory effect. Memory effect is the reduction of power storing capability of a battery, which occurs when the battery is recharged before it is fully discharged. The lithium ion batteries offer improvements in capacity and reduction of memory effect. The lithium ion batteries are therefore the most popular version of laptop batteries presently.
Batteries have different life spans depending on the amount of usage and the type of battery. Laptops have inbuilt power management software that helps to extend the lifetime of the battery. When the battery is low, the power management software makes the laptop function slowly. This acts as a signal to the user to recharge the battery or connect the laptop to the power supply socket.
Device card (PCMCIA card)
The PCMCIA card is a memory or I/O device that is about the size of a credit card. The PCMCIA card connects to the laptop. The card then connects to a device such as a fax, modem or memory device. PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, which is a foundation that developed a standard for device cards. As a result, laptop users can be assured of a standard attachment for all devices that follow the PCMICIA standard. The PCMCIA card has a 68-pin connector that connects to a slot on a laptop. The different types of PCMCIA cards are:
Type I – Used mostly for connecting to memory devices. These cards are about 3.3 mm. thick.
Type II – Typically connects to a modem, a SCSI device or a sound device. These cards are about 5.5 mm. thick.
Type III – Used to connect to hard drives. These cards are about 10.5 mm. thick.
The different types of cards have slots of corresponding sizes. The Type I slot can accommodate only one Type I card. The Type II slot can hold a single Type I or Type II card. The Type III slot can accommodate a single Type III card. It is possible to simultaneously connect any combination of two Type I and Type II cards in a Type III slot.
The infrared ports on laptops enable the laptop to communicate with other devices without using cables or wires. Thus, the infrared ports enable wireless communication between laptops and other devices. The infrared ports communicate and transmit data using infrared light waves. This is somewhat similar to the way a TV remote communicates with the TV. The device that the infrared port communicates with must have a corresponding infrared port. If you have a printer that has an infrared port, it can communicate with your laptop without cables. You can print documents by placing the printer and laptop opposite each other, with their infrared ports facing each other. However, the two communicating devices must be within a few feet of each other and the path between them must be clear of any intrusions. Figure 19.6 displays the PCMCIA port and infrared LAN port on a laptop. PCMCIA Port Infrared LAN Port.
The laptop connects and communicates with other devices with the help of the I/O ports. The different I/O ports on a laptop are:
Power socket – Connects to the AC adapter card, which connects to the power socket.
Modem socket – Connects to the modem for making dial-up connections to the network.
Network socket – Connects to the network cable.
Microphone socket – Connects to a microphone for audio input.
Headphone socket – Connects to the headphone for audio output.
Parallel port – Used to connect to devices such as printers or scanners.
Serial port – Connects to devices such as modems and mice.
USB ports – Connect to devices such as floppy drives or CD-ROM drives.
S Video port – Enables output of video to the monitor or another screen.
Monitor port – Connects to the monitor of the laptop.