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Is the Desktop Computer Dead?

Published April 13, 2010 - 4 Comments

I’ve been considering purchasing a desktop computer for my home office. When I mentioned that to a friend, he looked at me funny.  “Why?” he said.  A couple of years ago that question would have seemed out of place.  But now?  With so many viable computing alternatives at our fingertips, is it a valid concern?

I will always value mobility above all else.  Being able to grab a laptop and sit down anywhere in the house is an amazing convenience.  But believe it or not, there was a time (not so very long ago) when that freedom of movement did not exist.  If you were lucky enough to have a laptop, chances were that you were limited by the availability of a hardwired internet connection.  Forgoing the internet was usually the only option.  Do your work offline and then connect back in the office and upload any documents, check emails, whatever.

But not now.  Wireless is everywhere (in theory).  Email can be checked from your cellphone.  A netbook is small enough to carry in a bag with barely an afterthought.  Steve Jobs wants an iPad on every coffee table.  Is there any real need for a desktop computer anymore?

I think so.  What you lose in the lack of mobility you gain in other areas.  Mobile computing hardware is rarely as powerful as that in a desktop.  It’s also more expensive.  Not that laptops and netbooks are overly costly anymore, but for the same amount of money you can purchase a desktop with far superior components. 

There’s also the matter of storage.  Those external hard drives are fantastic, but they each require a separate power source.  You may think that 1.5 TB of storage is more than enough.  You may be surprised.  I was!  I’m looking for a machine that can serve all my media (yes, this is more of a personal requirement than a business one), and I don’t want multiple external drives cluttering the workspace, not to mention the logistics of cabling and available power outlets.  A good desktop computer will easily accommodate a minimum of 2 internal hard drives.  No fuss.  No mess.

I guess that it really comes down to the intended purpose of the machine, and personal preference.  I have no doubt that desktops are on their way out.  I just don’t think that they’re dead quite yet.

Curious to know what anyone else thinks.

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