Is the PC dead?
So, during dinner the other night my son pipes up and says, “You should get me a laptop.”
Now, to truly appreciate this statement you need an understanding of the home of a computer geek.  You see, in my house there are currently 4 working desktop PC’s, 2 working laptops, 1 file server and a variety of network enabled devices and gadgets.  For those keeping score, that’s 7 working computers for a family of 5.  So naturally my son’s statement begged the question; “Why do you need a laptop?”He proceeded to tell me how “everyone” has a laptop.  Now this got me thinking; does everyone really have a laptop?
Laptops have certainly become very popular lately but I’m still not so sure that “everyone” has one.  They do offer some undeniable benefits over desktop PCs, portability being the most obvious.  I mean, you sure would look silly dragging your tower, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. into your local Starbucks, now wouldn’t you?  Of course, this portability comes with tradeoffs like reduced speed and capacity and increased cost.  Or does it?
With the latest advances in things like mobile CPU speeds, hard drive sizes and battery technologies these tradeoff are not nearly as significant as they used to be.  Most modern laptops have just as much power and capacity as their desk bound brethren.  That leaves only cost as a significant negative for the laptop.
Laptops are more expensive than an equivalent desktop; there is no doubt about it.  As a matter of fact, I’m sure the increased cost is the only reason my son wants one.  Because as we all know, if it costs more it must be cooler.  It is probably safe to say that a laptop is about double the price of an equivalent desktop.  But I see that gap narrowing and quickly.
In the past, many business professionals would have both a laptop and a desktop.  Lately though, with the line between the two blurring, more and more folks are opting to just get the laptop.  Of course, if you are going to do that you will want the additional creature comforts for the office, like a full size monitor, keyboard and mouse.  The point is though, that even with these add-ons it is still likely more cost effective to get just a laptop than to get one of each.
To further complicate things, you have to wonder where things like tablets, ultrabooks and netbooks figure into this whole laptop vs. desktop debate.  I mean the smaller devices are gaining ground as well.  Now I don’t really see these small devices being much of a threat to the laptop market.  Mostly because they are, well, small.  Have you ever tried to read those tiny screens?  So I will go out on a limb here and say as long as we are at the mercy of failing human eyesight the small device market will stay small.
So where does that leave us?  Is the desktop dead? I don’t think so.  There will always be a market, at least in the foreseeable future.  Certainly at the lower end folks that just read email and print word documents will likely always opt for the cost savings of a desktop.  Also at the very high end CAD users and gamers will need a big metal box to house all of the fancy gadgets they want in their PCs (or “Rigs” as this crowd would refer to their prized possessions).
Only you can decide what works best for you, a desktop or a laptop.  Unless of course, you are a teenager whose father just doesn’t understand.  In which case you don’t get to decide anything and the desktop you already have is good enough.
Welcome to the future.
 -Posted by Mike Oster