Jargon judge: Laptop

I love my laptop.

Not only is it portable and as easy to use as any conventional PC I've had, it even has a name I'll abide by.

I don't often rest it on my lap, but I could if I wanted to. It's the right size, the right weight, and I can just see myself propped up in bed, writing my great American novel.

Yes, this Jargon Judge ruling actually favours a technology term. This term has the advantage of being attached to a relatively new computer appliance - one for which a whole vocabulary doesn't already exist. Similarly, it doesn't misappropriate any civilian terms and imbue them with a secret computer nuance, like so many of my previously named favourites - enterprise, legacy, OEM. It's simply that a machine was born and needed a name, and of those proffered, laptop has won out.

It isn't just me. Just about everybody - technical or not - calls their pick-up-and-go computer with the screen on the back of the lid a laptop. Ask around, and you'll see.

Of course, in typical industry fashion, vendors for the most part insist on calling laptops something else: notebooks. Am I the only one who sees wirebound pads of paper or three-ring binders with a plastic-zippered pencil case here, rather than a slim box with a flip-up screen? True, like real notebooks, those computers are a place to write things down - that's probably how they got their name. But you really have to say two words - notebook computer - to identify them, whereas it's so easy to just say, "Laptop".

So, let's.

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Anne McCrory

PC World
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