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Long live PCs
Why the desktop isn’t dead

09/27/12
By John Andrews jandrews@hippopress.com



I hear a lot about how mobile devices are the future, and anyone still using a laptop or desktop is a hopeless dinosaur. One guy in my Twitter feed is using only mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) for a year and blogging about the experience.
 
Personally, I use full-blown computers less than I used to, but still quite a bit. I work on one all day, my laptop at home gets plenty of use, and the desktop with all my microphones and audio equipment hooked up to it is essential when I have the time and energy to be musically creative.
 
And as much as the big box stores advertise tablets and smartphones with wireless contracts, they still fill pages and pages with laptops and desktops. Yes, I do believe the death of PCs has been declared prematurely. I even think desktops will stick around a while longer. Why?
 
People work at desks. Long before computers, the desk was essential to the knowledge worker. I know this because I’ve seen about a million different versions of A Christmas Carol, and in every one Ebenezer Scrooge is scowling behind an imposing desk. Even if one accepts the concept that working wherever you happen to be is desirable, it’s still helpful to have a central organizing point and space that’s dedicated to work. Not only are all your old-fashioned paper files there, your brain likes to have a consistent environment conducive to work.
 
People like keyboards. Aside from traditionalists who insist upon writing out everything longhand, folks are pretty comfortable typing out words on keyboards. More importantly, they’re comfortable typing out sentences, paragraphs, whole compositions from a short article to an epic novel on physical hardware keyboards. The tiny virtual keyboards on mobile device are fine for quick bites of text, but they get frustrating for anything more than a short sentence.
 
People also like mice. Not the kind that sneaks around your kitchen, nibbling into bread bags and cereal boxes and leaving tiny brown presents everywhere, despite the fact that you have not one, but two cats who really should be taking care of this. No, I mean the computer mouse of course, with which you control a cursor on the screen. It’s more accurate than a mushy fingertip, it doesn’t get the screen all fingerprinty, and it fits nicely in the hand. Laptop touchpads can never quite compete, and even newer ones supporting multitouch gestures still feel awkward.
 
Big screens are good. Decent-sized monitors used to be even more massive than desktop PCs; a nice 19-incher could weigh 50 pounds. Now flatscreens are thin and take up much less space on one’s desk (and are environmentally friendlier to boot). You’re not going to carry around a 24-inch monitor for your phone, are you? When you want whole documents or multiple windows or big multimedia projects splayed out before you, a small mobile screen doesn’t cut it.
 
Desktops are smaller too. There are now desktop PCs with smaller footprints than your precious keyboard. Some all-in-one PCs make it seem like there’s no computer at all, just a monitor. They’ve adapted to modern times and are more convenient than ever.
 
And oh yeah, desktops give you lots of power for less money and are easily upgradeable as well. Don’t own one? That’s fine. But plenty of people still do, and will for a while.
 
Use your giant mushy fingertips to follow @CitizenjaQ on Twitter.





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