A 20" notebook is simply a laptop with a 20" (50.8 cm) display, which is substantially larger than what most people associate with being a large laptop, which usually has a 17" (43.2) monitor. Because of the increased size, a 20" notebook is also capable of holding many more components than a normal sized laptop, and since its footprint is so much larger it can have a full-sized keyboard. For this reason, the 20" notebook is often looked at as the ultimate desktop laptop replacement.
The laptop, or notebook, computer has its origins far back in the history of the personal computer. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that laptop computers began to be seen widely in consumer hands, and it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that they began to be the computer of choice for everyone from students to businesspeople. In the past few years laptop technology has evolved substantially, with powerful processors, large hard drives, and crisp monitors turning laptops into ready competitors for desktop computers.
In an effort to differentiate themselves in a lucrative marketplace, a number of manufacturers began experimenting with novel takes on the laptop to attract different segments of consumers. One such strain led to the invention of the netbook, tiny, sub-12" monitored laptops meant for everyday tasks. The other direction led to the creation of the mammoth 20" notebook, with its accompanying benefits and disadvantages.
To its benefit, the 20" notebook is truly a replacement for most desktop systems. The typical 20" notebook is capable of a native resolution of some 1680x1050 pixels, easily competing with normally-sized desktop monitors. Newer models are even capable of high-definition display, keeping pace with technology developments in the desktop world. Since many people who use a 20" notebook are doing so for gaming or graphic design, they also tend to include the best video cards of any laptops, with many offering up to 2GB of dedicated video memory. With multiple bays, a 20" notebook can easily have in excess of 400GB of storage, up to 1TB of storage with two large hard drives. Most 20" notebooks are also able to take up to 8GB of RAM, or more, allowing them to compete with all but the most robust desktop systems.
Of course, there are downsides to a 20" notebook as well. Its massive size is the most obvious, with a 20" notebook having dimensions of around 19" by 13.5" (48cm by 34cm) with a depth of around 2.5" (6.3cm). This can make a 20" notebook very difficult to carry around, especially on long business trips or on a bike or in a backpack. A 20" notebook can also weigh anywhere between 15 and 20 pounds (6.8 to 9kg), making it quite a burden to carry around for extended periods of time. The added power also often means that these laptops drain battery life quickly, although this is sometimes offset by an ability to have two batteries in at once. Heat can also be a concern, although because of the enormous weight and size, few people actually use these laptops on their laps.
In the end, the benefits to a 20" notebook are great for someone who really needs a replacement for their desktop system. For someone who wants a laptop they can easily carry around and set up anywhere, this is probably not the right system. But for someone who wants to just go down the street to the coffeehouse, or just wants something to stay set up at home most of the time, with the option of moving it to a hotel room occasionally, this can be a great way to get all the power needed in a relatively portable system.