Rest Assured, PCs and Laptops Are NOT Going To Die

I laugh every time I read articles about how tablet computing is spelling the end for the traditional desktop PC and even the laptop computer.

Admittedly, tablets are growing in popularity.  I actually bought one a few months back, an HP TouchPad, which as you may remember was introduced and promptly pulled from production about a week after it’s launch.  This dropped the price, and I was able to recently pick one up for $200.  While I like it, it’s never going to fully replace the PC and laptop that I also have at home.

But, that’s not why I say that PCs and laptops won’t die.

The reason is more simple:


Many of you work in an office, right?  I do.

On every desk there is either a desktop computer or a docking station for a laptop.

There are many people that walk around with tablets, and I believe a few really progressive types have ditched their desktop or laptop, but I’d say that number is probably about 1%.

Our office has roughly 300 people, which means that 3 people have ditched their laptop or desktop.

Meaning that 297 have not and are still using them.

The fact remains that while tablet computing is great for people on the go, and it is great for apps and browsing, many people at spend eight hours (or more) per day at work cannot achieve the same productivity on a tablet as you can with a desktop or laptop.

At least not without paying significantly more.

Yes, you can purchase better keyboards and likely can get external mice and bigger displays for a tablet that can bring the efficiency that tablet computing can’t offer when it comes to word processing or working with spreadsheets, but at that point, a fully loaded desktop or laptop is still much cheaper.

And most businesses are still about making money, and one way of doing that is to keep costs down.

I’m sure there are companies out there that may consider loading up their employees with tablets and ditching the desktops and laptops altogether, but either they are going to pay a bundle in ‘extras’ to make sure that their employees can work more efficiently, or they will see a drop in productivity.

My guess is that number would probably rival the 1% or so tying back to the people in our office who have ditched their PC / laptop altogether.

In other words, there is no direct threat to shut down operations for companies in the desktop and laptop business.  Not that I can see.

Now, if I’m an investor, I do see limited growth in those areas.  I might not be buying up thousands of shares of Dell as would have been a good idea in the 1990’s, but if I already owned them, I wouldn’t be worried about them heading to zero, either.

What do you think?  Will tablets take over the world or will desktops and laptops be around for the foreseeable future?

Disclosure: I own no stock of any company mentioned here.


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The Old Desktop Lives!

Last week I wrote about how the old desktop computer I’ve had for roughly eight years looked like it might be done.

Turns out, she’s got a little big of life left in her.

Thanks to my dad (thanks, dad!), who has a nice stash of computer equipment, I was able to get it up and running by replacing the video card.

There was a series of lights on the back of the computer that I had neglected to see, but as it turns out, actually gives you the code of the likely problem in the event of a system problem.  The light code pointed right to the video card.

The new card was a cinch to install and after downloading new drivers, I was back in business.

I think the computer is still on its way out, though.  The fan keeps getting noisier and noisier.  And after all this, one of my USB drives seemed to be conflicting with my wireless keyboard / mouse set, allowing only one or the other to work at a time.  Maybe I just need to play with the configuration of the cables. In any case, that’s not so much a big deal, and I can always move my backup procedures to another working computer.

Still, it’s nice to be able to extend the life just a little bit longer.  Knock on wood, but I’ve always had pretty good luck with electronic items around the house, with a TV running for fifteen years and counting, the aforementioned desktop on eight years, and a couple of laptops probably six and four years old that are holding up reasonably well.

What are your predictions on how much longer the old desktop has in it?  Any guesses?

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The Old Desktop Computer May Have Bit The Dust

I’ve always been a pretty savvy tech guy.  My career has been IT.  One thing I learned, though, is that no technology, especially in the PC world, ever stays current.  Thus, I pretty much have gotten in the pattern of keeping computers until they die or are basically unusable.

Around 2004 was the last time I purchased a desktop computer.  At the time, it was a pretty state of the art machine.  It was a Dell Precision 370 workstation,  and it had a really cool graphics card, additional memory, and SATA hard drives, which were pretty fast back then.

It was a great computer and very fast, but as computers do, it started to slow down over time.  I think that happens because the computer does actually slow down as you use it and install more stuff on it, as well as appearing slower simply because the new computers coming out are faster.

I re-installed everything once a few years later, and a couple of years later I added more memory, an upgraded hard drive, and a few other improvements to basically max it out.

We have since inherited a couple of laptops from my parents, the latest of which we use as our primary computer.  Still, the desktop computer was one I used for browsing, random game playing, and as a hookup to all of our external hard drives where we keep multiple copies of any picture, music, document, spreadsheet or other files, and it also acted as a central print server so we could print from other computers we had.

Recently, I was using it and suddenly it freaked out.  The video got crazy.  That’s the only word I can use to describe it.  It got into a weird test pattern.  Powering down and back up got it into a state where it would start up but not really boot up.  It actually did boot up one time and I used it for a couple of hours, but since then, it hasn’t booted up once.  I’ve reseated all the power connections, memory modules, and external cards, but so far that hasn’t worked.  One time it did boot up and the fan started running so fast I thought it was going to blow a hole in the wall behind the computer.

The diagnostic lights on the back of the computer aren’t giving me any really good information.  I may try another video card but I’m not too hopeful.

I think it may be lost.  But eight years for a computer has to be like 120 years old, right?  If it is gone, it definitely had a good life.

It really wouldn’t change anything if we lost it.  I’m pretty sure the hard drives are fine, and I don’t think that we have anything on them anyways of importance.

I guess time will tell what we do.  Right now, we’ll do nothing, but down the line do I:

  • Get another desktop computer, which could probably be had for a couple hundred bucks?
  • Get a laptop computer?  We already have two of those plus I can use the one from work for stuff as well
  • Get one of the latest trends in technology, a tablet device
  • Just scrap it and do nothing.

I guess time will tell if we actually miss the computer in any way that would warrant us having a new one.  For now, we have an older laptop that I’ve started using.  If that were to die as well, we would definitely need to do something, but since that was probably from 2005 or 2006, we hopefully have another year or two where we could scrape by with what we have.

What are your computer habits?  Do you get new computers regularly?  Do you use your computers mainly for browsing?

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