Use of Cycles

Hello,
I was watching a tutorial about Cycles and i realized that it is very different from what i thought it was. I have 2 questions:
How often do you use Cycles, what for and, what is better to make an animation?
In the tutorial i believe he uses a slightly older version as he can change the ‘device’ or is that because i can’t because i use a laptop or something?

Thanks,
Ray Green