One of the disadvantages of laptops in comparison to desktops is that their compact design might limit the availability of some functions. To address this problem, many laptops contain PC Card or ExpressCard slots to add functionality, such as more memory, a modem, or a network connection.
Cards follow the PCMCIA standard. They come in three types: Type I, Type II, and Type III. Each type is different in size and can attach to different devices.
The PC Card slot uses an open standard interface to connect to peripheral devices using the CardBus standard. The ExpressCard is the newer model of expansion card and is the most commonly used. Figure 1 shows a comparison of PC Cards and PC ExpressCards. The PC ExpressCard comes in two models: ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54. The models are 34 mm and 54 mm in width, respectively. Figure 2 shows an example of a PC Card and PC ExpressCard.
Here are some examples of functionality that can be added when using PC Cards and ExpressCards:
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Ethernet access
- USB and FireWire ports
- External hard drive access
- Additional memory
All PC expansion cards are inserted and removed using similar steps. To install a card, insert the card into the slot. To remove the card, press the eject button to release it.
If a PC Card is hot-swappable, to safely remove it follow these steps:
Step 1. Left-click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the Windows system tray to ensure that the device is not in use.
Step 2. Left-click the device that you want to remove. A message pops up to tell you that it is safe to remove the device.
Step 3. Remove the hot-swappable device from the laptop.
CAUTION: PC Cards and USB devices are commonly hot-swappable. In some instances, the optical drive and battery can also be hot-swappable. However, the internal hard drive and RAM are never hot-swappable. Removing a device that is not hot-swappable while the computer is powered on can cause damage to data and devices.