@Tully's answer is great, but I just wanted to provide some examples.
Most linear actuators need a fair amount of collapsed height. The ratio of length when extended to collapsed is usually around 2:1. For example in the lead-screw based actuators in your question.
Of course, you can do better with a telescoping mechanism. For example this telescoping ladder. The ratio of extension to collapsed heights for this ladder is about 4.5:1.
However, a zipper mast is similar to a tape measure, where you can achieve a huge extension relative to a very small collapsed height. The extension ratio of this tape measure is about 64:1.
For stability, the zipper mast is usually constructed from 2 or more "tape measure" like things, that zipper or interlock together. Because the trade-off for this huge extension ratio is stability. Also, I believe zipper masts are best at transmitting force in the extension direction. They are very weak in other directions. For example, you shouldn't use them horizontally.
One awesome application for a zipper mast is a retractable camera mast on a robot. For example this demonstration on a PackBot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFvwp5vReSw
It would be difficult to achieve such an large height extension with any other type of mechanism because they would require a large stalk on the robot, even when retracted.
Only you can determine the right type of linear actuator and what is "good enough" for your application.