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The PC Is Dead! Long Live The PC

posted 17 Oct 2013, 07:14 by Alistair Hamilton   [ updated 9 Nov 2013, 06:50 ]
With our ever increasing reliance on an interconnected World we have increasing methods available to us to maintain those links. Some smart phones are now more powerful than desktop computers were only a few short years ago. Last year's big Christmas must have gadget, the humble tablet, flew off the shelves as the latest fad took hold.

With these innovations allowing increasing connectivity while on the move, the doom merchants have been all too quick to proclaim that the desktop computer is nearing the end of its useful life. They point to the decreasing sales of desktops as evidence of its impending extinction. I'm sorry, I don't buy it. Sure, there has perhaps been a paradigm shift in the way the masses use technology but to suggest that everyone is moving over to tablets at the expense of the desktop doesn't make sense to me.

Tablets, and smart phones for that matter, are great for accessing the Internet on the move or for firing off a quick response to an email. Try working on a complex spreadsheet however and you will come unstuck. Indeed, trying to do anything constructive using a tablet is a pain in the proverbial backside, if not impossible. You'll find it very inefficient writing your biography on a smart phone.

Put simply, there are some things that tablets and smart phones are not suitable for and are better done using a desktop computer. For example, a small list of options might include:

Using a multiple monitor setup
Computer aided design
Audio and video editing
Any application that requires large amounts of input from the user - spreadsheets, word processing etc.
Easily expand and manage large amounts of data storage
Convert to a server, central media storage, firewall, print server and so on.
Animation design
Desktop publishing
Computer art

That list is by no means extensive, but there are a couple of other areas where a desktop machine beats using any other technology, including laptops.

Firstly, in terms of specification against performance, a desktop machine will almost always give you better 'bang per buck'. But more importantly, desktop machines are unsurpassed in their flexibility and ability to be upgraded. It's a relatively straight forward process to improve a desktop's performance by adding more RAM, increasing hard disk storage, adding an extra DVD drive, swapping over processor units and so on. Something one simply cannot do with tablets and smartphones. If you want to upgrade those, then I'm afraid it's a case of buying a new, better specified version and getting rid of your old one.

The value for money argument also applies to laptops. The convenience and portability of a laptop may seem appealing but if you are not going to be moving around, why pay extra for that portability? Not only will you be able to purchase a higher specified desktop for the same price as the laptop your were thinking of, but the on-going maintenance costs of repairing a desktop machine are much smaller. Not only that, unlike a desktop, any upgrades that you wish to make on your laptop will be limited if not nonexistent.

So, the bottom line is this. Think very carefully about why you intend to buy a particular piece of kit. Rather than one technology supplanting another, I think it more likely that these technologies will combine to compliment one another. It all boils down to how each user wants/needs to use their hardware but as far as the end of the PC era? I don't think so. The humble PC has always evolved so long term it may well morph into some sort of hybrid device. At the moment though it is just too powerful and flexible, with too many things reliant on it for it to simple cease to be.

I certainly don't see me abandoning mine anytime soon.