What's coming up
In this topic so far, we've looked at four different computing devices: the desktop computer; the laptop; the tablet and the smartphone.
These devices have a lot in common, and do many of the same things. So what makes them different from each other, and what is the right one to use for you?
Let's find out.Start activity
The size difference
The big difference between each type of computing device is size. The size of a device affects where you can use it.
A small device may be easier to carry around with you, but it also means a smaller screen. Typing letters, reading websites and looking at photos can be harder on a small screen than on a big screen.
Desktop or laptop?
A desktop computer is made of several connected parts. It sits in one place in your house, so you can't carry it around.
A laptop is small enough to take with you, and still has a good sized keyboard to type on.
Tablet or smartphone?
Then there's the tablet, which is about the size of a book and will fit in a small bag. But typing on a tablet can be harder than typing on a laptop or desktop computer keyboard.
The smallest device is the smartphone, which will fit in a pocket. Some screens are small, but some smartphones have large screens. Typing can be tricky on the small screen smartphones.
The power difference
Tablets, smartphones and computers are powered in different ways. Desktop computers need mains power, so they have to be attached to a wall socket at all times.
Laptops, tablets and smartphones each have a battery inside. They can work for a period of time before the battery power runs down. Plugging the device into mains power recharges the battery.
The control difference
Computers, tablets and smartphone are controlled in different ways. A desktop is controlled with a keyboard and mouse. These give a lot of fine control and are perhaps the most comfortable control method.
A laptop is controlled by a keyboard and touchpad. The touchpad works like a mouse, but you touch it with your fingers instead of holding it under your hand.
Tablets and smartphones are controlled by tapping, swiping and scrolling on a touchscreen with your fingers.
Which one is right for me?
There is a computing device to suit just about any need.
If you have the space, and don't need a computer to be portable, a desktop computer may be a good choice. It has the biggest screen, the most comfortable keyboard, and uses a mouse.
If you expect to do lot of typing, and portability is somewhat important, think about getting a laptop computer. It can be carried around and used at a desk or on your lap, it has a physical keyboard, and can work even when not connected to mains power.
If you need a computer that's easy to carry around but has a good sized screen, a tablet may be the answer. A tablet runs on batteries and can do many of the things a laptop or desktop can. You can also add a physical keyboard if you don't like using the onscreen keyboard.
A smartphone is perfect it you want a device that can make calls, and is small enough to carry in your pocket. Smartphones can browse the internet and do many of the same things as a tablet, but their size means that websites and photos may look very small.
Which of these three types of computer devices is the largest and needs power from a power point to run?
Click to flip
Not quite. Tablets are about the size of a book and can run on batteries.
Click to flip
That's right! Desktop computers are too big to carry around with you, and need to be plugged into mains power.
Click to flip
Not quite. Try again. A laptop can use battery power, and is compact enough to carry around.
Well done, you've completed the Comparing devices activity.
As you've seen from completing this activity, each type of computer device has strengths and weaknesses, and many people have more than one device to fill their needs.
For example, they might have a desktop at home, but also carry a smartphone for making calls and checking emails while out and about. You have to decide which setup is right for you.
Next up, if you have registered and are logged into the Be Connected website, you'll now be able to take a short quiz to finish the course. If you're not registered, you are now at the end of the course.