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Portable PCs Chapter 14 Overview In this chapter, you will learn to Describe the many types of portable computing devices available Enhance and upgrade portable PCs Troubleshoot portable PCs Portable Computing Devices What’s in a Name?

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Portable pcs l.jpg

Portable PCs

Chapter 14

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  • In this chapter, you will learn to

    • Describe the many types of portable computing devices available

    • Enhance and upgrade portable PCs

    • Troubleshoot portable PCs

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What’s in a Name?

  • What’s the difference between a portable, a laptop, and a notebook?

    • Nothing!

    • There’s no industry standard for names

    • However, most notebooks are laptops in the 8 ½ x 11-inch range

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Desktop Replacements

  • Typical laptops function as a fully standalone PC which may be considered a desktop replacement

    • Input devices

      • Trackballs on early laptops

      • IBM’s TrackPoint pencil eraser-sized joystick in the middle of the keyboard

      • Touchpads

    • LCD monitors

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Desktop Extenders

  • Desktop extenders are portable devices that are not intended to take the place of a desktop

    • Think of them as a smaller, lighter, less powerful laptop for less intensive uses

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  • Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are tiny, hand-held portable computing devices

    • Address book, personal notes, appointments, word processors, image viewers

    • Often use handwriting recognition with a pen-style stylus for pen-based computing

    • Uses specialized OSs such as Windows CE, PocketPC, PalmOS, and Linux

    • Made by Palm, Sony, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and other companies

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You can easily synchronize your data on your PDA with your office PC

Just put it on your cradle by the PC and click the button to synchronize

PDA Memory

Internal flash ROM of 1 MB or more

Compact Flash cards that are removable and upgradable for removable storage needs

HotSync & PDA Memory

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PC Cards

  • PC Cards are commonly known as the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA)

    • Hot-swappable devices that perform every PC function

    • Easy to use, inexpensive, and convenient

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PC Cards

  • CardBuscard is a 32-bit PC Card with a special slot

    • PCI bus mastering

    • Can perform up to 8 functions compared with 2 functions for a regular PC card (such as a modem and network card combined)

    • Regular PC cards will work in a CardBus slot

    • CardBus uses 3.3 volts of power – regular PC cards use 5 volts

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PC Cards

  • Two levels of software drivers

    • Socket services

      • Device drivers that enable the system to detect when a PC Card is inserted or removed, and provide necessary I/O to the device

      • Standardized and handled by the system BIOS

    • Card services

      • Recognize the function of a particular PC Card and provide the specialized drivers required to make the card work

      • Handled by Windows

      • Accessed via PCMCIA option in Control Panel

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Limited-Function Ports

  • All portable PCs and many PDAs come with a variety of ports

    • VGA connection for hooking up an external monitor

    • PS/2 port for an external keyboard or mouse

    • Speaker ports

    • Built-in NICs and modems for network support

      • All of these work the same as in desktop PCs

    • Video ports

      • Allow displaying the laptop LCD, the external monitor, a projector, or a combination

    • Extra function key (like the Control or Alt keys)

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General-Purpose Ports

  • USB ports

    • Support up to 127 devices

    • Usually most USB sharing is limited to 3 or 4 devices

    • 12 Mbps throughput

    • Maximum cable length of 5 meters only

    • Due to electrical interference, it’s better to stay around 2 meters maximum

  • Hi-Speed USB

    • Backwards compatible with regular USB

    • 480 Mbps throughput

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USB Configuration

  • Ensure that the CMOS provides an IRQ for USB ports

  • Ensure that the operating system supports USB

    • All versions of Windows from Win95B and newer (except for NT) support USB

  • Always install device drivers before plugging in a new USB device

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Port Replicators

  • Port replicators are devices that plug into a USB port and offer common PC ports such as serial, parallel, network, and PS/2

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Docking Stations

  • Easily gives laptops access to large monitors, regular mice, network connections, full size keyboards

  • Provides an easy way to take your laptop in and out of the office

  • Basically a port replicator with extra features such as a DVD drive or PC Card slots

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  • FireWire has faster transfer rates than USB

    • Uses a 6-pin powered connector that can provide power to an attached device (like USB)

    • Or a 4-pin unpowered connector

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The Modular Laptop

  • The common components that can be replaced or upgraded in a portable PC are:

    • RAM

      • 72-pin or 144-pin SO-DIMMs

    • Hard drives

      • ATA drives in the 2.5-inch format dominate laptops today

      • Check for the proper settings (Cable Select, Master, Slave) but otherwise the same as regular 3.5-inch drives

    • Modular CPUs

      • Just replace with a newer module from Intel or AMD

    • Video cards

      • Least standardized

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Replacing RAM

  • There’s no standard but you usually have to unscrew or pop open a panel on the underside of the portable

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Modular Drives

  • Laptop manufacturers may include modular drives that may be swapped in and out

    • CD-ROM

    • DVD-ROM

    • CD-R/W

    • Floppy disk drives

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  • Everything you normally do to maintain a PC applies to portable PCs

    • Windows patches and Service Packs

    • Upgraded drivers

    • Check Disk

    • ScanDisk

    • Defragment

    • Disk Cleanup

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  • Types of Batteries

    • Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd)

    • Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)

    • Lithium Ion (Li-Ion)

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Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

  • Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries were the first batteries commonly used in mobile PCs

    • Provide a steady voltage but subject to battery memory problem

    • Battery memory is the tendency of a Ni-Cd battery to lose a significant amount of its recharge ability if charged repeatedly without being totally discharged

    • To avoid this problem, these batteries had to be discharged completely before each recharging

    • Susceptible to self-discharge over time

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Nickel Metal Hydride

  • Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries were the next generation of mobile PC batteries

    • Less susceptible to memory problems and last longer between recharges

    • Still susceptible to heat

    • Popular replacement for Ni-CD systems

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Lithium Ion

  • Lithium Ion is the most common type of battery used today

    • Powerful and completely immune to memory problems

    • Built-in circuitry to prevent accidental overcharging

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Other Portable Power Sources

  • Smart batteries tell the computer when they need to be charged, conditioned, or replaced

  • Fuel cells are a promising new technology that could power a laptop for up to 40 hours before refilling

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Battery Maintenance

  • Batteries should be stored in a cool place

  • Ni-Cd and Ni-MH batteries should be conditioned by using a charger

  • Battery contacts should be kept clean using a little alcohol or dry cloth

  • Used or old batteries should be recycled

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Power Management

  • Power Management must

    • Shut down unused devices selectively

    • Define a maximum period of inactivity

    • Shut down the entire system during longer periods of inactivity

    • Ready to restart if triggered by a wake-up event

    • Sensitive to potential hazards like shutting down the hard drive in the middle of a write operation

    • Keep the system cost about the same

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System Management Mode

  • System Management Mode (SMM) is a set of features that enables the CPU to slow down or stop its clock without deleting the register information

    • Stops the CPU and all of the peripherals

    • Requires a specialized BIOS and OS

    • To further power management capabilities, Intel introduced Advanced Power Management (APM) in 1992 and Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) in 1996

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Requirements for APM/ACPI

  • APM and ACPI require the following in order to function properly

    • An SMM-capable CPU

    • APM-compliant BIOS

    • Devices that will accept being shut off (“Energy Star”)

    • A system OS that knows how to request for the shut down of a particular device

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  • Full On

    • No power management – everything running at full power

  • APM Enabled

    • CPU and RAM running at full power

    • Unused device may or may not be shut down

  • APM Standby

    • CPU is stopped

    • RAM still stores all the programs

    • All peripherals are shut down

  • APM Suspend

    • Everything is shut down or at its lowest power-consumption

    • Hibernation (stores everything in RAM on the hard drive before powering down)

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CMOS settings


Overrides CMOS settings

Display applet in Control Panel

SettingsAdvanced Monitor tab

Power Management applet in Control Panel

APM/ACPI Configuration

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Use a screen cleaner to clean the LCD screen (not a glass cleaner!)

Compressed air to clean out the keyboard and PC Card sockets


Use power management

Keep air space between the bottom of the laptop and the surface it sits on

Don’t use a keyboard protector

Listen for your fan running a lot – if it is allow your laptop to cool off

Cleaning & Heat

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Beyond A+

  • Intel’s Centrino Technology

    • Extremely low power

    • Fast CPUs

    • Integrated wireless networking

  • ExpressCard

    • Shorter than previous PC Cards

    • Same width as a Type II card