The Big Platform Guide: Introduction
A "platform", in the sense used in the computer industry, is usually a combination of several things.
The most salient features are generally a processor, and a chipset. The processor is generally one out of an entire series (Pentium M, for instance). The chipset is generally one specific one, or one out of a short list. There may be other things, as well. Some platforms specify particular input or communications devices.
Platforms are, first and foremost, marketing tools. They create cool buzzwords (including the word "platform"), shiny logos, etc. But they have a practical side sometimes. Buying into a platform means you generally have a clearer idea of what you're getting: there are certain features you know you'll get. Platforms are also sometimes good for compatibility.
And platforms are becoming increasingly popular. This is an idea that's around to stay (for a while, at least), so you may as well come to grips with it.
And that is more or less what this guide is for.
Please note that this guide necessarily makes numerous references to various processors. You may at times wish to refer to the Big Processor Guide for further information.