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    Desktop computers and their future


    I started thinking about this recently and it got me wondering...

    What do you think will happen with the desktop PC? Do you think it will eventually vanish? Do you think it will still stay around?

    The reasons I thought this was that there has been an obvious surge of more portable computing devices. Mainly in particular things like smartphones and tablets/E-Readers (iPad/Kindle Fire). And these types of devices can pretty much almost do what you can do on a regular desktop computer...if not exact, at least with an equivalent app. I know the desktop computer is obviously the one thing that got me started into the field (and probably others as well) and with the way things are going, I am questioning its future. Everything is going so much smaller now. Makes me wonder that rather than instead of swapping out a huge video card for someone, I'll be swapping out broken screens/home buttons, etc. If things continue this way, will things change in terms of corporate networks/domains for businesses. Are these mobile devices gonna have a login screen for multiple users to log in to the same device? Of course maybe some already have something like this in place.

    And if the desktop PC does sort of fade out some imagine all the junk yards of old keyboards, mice, PCs, monitors, etc (of course I bet this exists already too).

    But anyways, just something I've been pondering. I kinda think that it will slowly fade some, but I don't think it will fully go away anytime soon.
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    Originally Posted by Basslord1124
    The reasons I thought this was that there has been an obvious surge of more portable computing devices. Mainly in particular things like smartphones and tablets/E-Readers (iPad/Kindle Fire). And these types of devices can pretty much almost do what you can do on a regular desktop computer...if not exact, at least with an equivalent app.
    False. None of those devices can do anything that requires a keyboard. If you think an on-screen keyboard is a viable alternative, go write 10,000 lines of code on one and come back.

    Laptops, on the other hand, don't have this problem, and I've actually been for more than ten years now without even owning a desktop, but there are still tons of compromises being made in order to get so much hardware into such a compact package. Where I work, everybody has a desktop, most with two displays. Mine are arranged in 2160 by 1920 pixels, approximately 2 feet on each side. I happily use my laptop at home, but coding at work is an entirely different experience. If management came around and replaced all our computers with laptops, productivity would suffer. (If they replaced them with smartphones, tablets, or E-readers, on the other hand, it would simply be impossible to get any work done.)
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    Also, I seriously doubt people would find enjoyment in playing games such as WoW or Diablo 3 on a tablet, or the like... Heck, playing on a laptop is hard enough. I know I can plug a laptop into a monitor and play it that way, but the specs I have on my desktop are so much more superior (for the price) than I'd have on any laptop I would ever purchase.
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    Actually, many of the point-and-click style games (diablo 1/2, baldur's gate, planescape, etc) work really shockingly well on a tablet. Maybe a tablet with 3-4 hard keys along the edge would work out really well for them.

    I have a gaming desktop that I haven't turned on in 4 months. Maybe longer. I just don't want to go into the computer room and spend 3 hours updating drivers and whatever. If you stop playing PC games for longer than a couple weeks, barriers to entry are erected around your computer. I game on the xbox and do general computing tasks on my work laptop (running Ubuntu)
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    Originally Posted by Lux Perpetua
    False. None of those devices can do anything that requires a keyboard. If you think an on-screen keyboard is a viable alternative, go write 10,000 lines of code on one and come back.
    My wife likes to write... we got her a cheap bluetooth keyboard and she barely touches the desktop anymore except for some games, and some writing programs which aren't available on android. So that's a fairly easy to clear hurdle.

    I'm guessing tablets are the future for just about anyone other than gamers and programmers, and that's just because the raw horsepower to dollar ratio on computers is so much higher.

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    Horsepower is significantly cheaper on a computer than on a mobile device. If I wanted a desktop computer with the same specs as the iPad, it would NOT cost me $800. I could find one on ebay for $150.

    The sad fact is that while computers have gotten faster and faster over the years, people don't actually use them for anything that requires that horsepower. Of the ~60 people in my extended family, really only one person needs computing power stronger than a cell phone, and that's because he does CAD sometimes for work. Everyone else does email, facebook, flash games.

    Once wireless keyboards for tablets become easier and cheaper, I think we'll see a big shift to those devices. I don't have a tablet because what I do on my computer is type. I don't care what computer I'm using, I care about having a full sized keyboard.
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    Originally Posted by ManiacDan
    Actually, many of the point-and-click style games (diablo 1/2, baldur's gate, planescape, etc) work really shockingly well on a tablet. Maybe a tablet with 3-4 hard keys along the edge would work out really well for them.
    Oh.. I don't doubt that the games would work well enough on them... But:
    - they don't work as well as my desktop; and
    - I would much rather play a game, without lag on a big screen.

    Games that require high-end video performance and those that require an internet connection (Diablo 3 for instance), would be a lot harder to play on a tablet (or wireless connection) and would not be as enjoyable with lower resolution.

    (I have my desktop hooked up to my 50" hdtv, so I don't have a problem of not wanting to go into the computer room...)

    But point being, even with the rise of all these portable devices, I don't think desktops are going to be obsolete anytime soon.
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    I really need to just drag my computer downstairs and hook it up to the 100" projector. I hook my laptop to it occasionally but never play games.

    Those games I mentioned are perfect for tablets because they normally maxed out at resolutions that current tablets support perfectly. And there's no performance issues with a 10 year old game.

    Though I'll never believe anything will ever beat the mouse and keyboard as a control set for anything aside from flying games.
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    None of those devices can do anything that requires a keyboard.
    My friend has a pretty nifty case for his iPad that has a very functional keyboard. These sort of things will become more common for people that must type, while voice recognition will also improve for everyone else.

    I seriously doubt people would find enjoyment in playing games such as WoW or Diablo 3 on a tablet
    My iPhone talks to Apple TV and can use that as output, this will be more the norm sooner than later too. But we're already at the point where portable devices can interface to your 50" home theater as it is.

    As far as horsepower my friend is using an iPad for recording music. He has a 48 track recorder on it. Whether it can in real time mix/mute/unmute etc I questioned "I'll believe it when I hear it" but I don't doubt that it's possible now with caveats, and the caveats will become less over time.

    My phone can do things computers in not so distant memory could only dream of and it does it without a full tower with half a dozen fans jetting air into it.

    Do I think the desktop is doomed anytime soon? No. The workplace will be the final frontier. And we'll still need servers and serious stationary number crunchers. But I do think the "home PC" is on its way out sooner than later.
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    But we're already at the point where portable devices can interface to your 50" home theater as it is.
    I'm watching Dexter on my 120" projector right now sourced from my phone. There's an HDMI port on it.
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    Originally Posted by Lux Perpetua
    False. None of those devices can do anything that requires a keyboard. If you think an on-screen keyboard is a viable alternative, go write 10,000 lines of code on one and come back.
    And you couldn't eventually dock those devices to a docking station that is hooked to a monitor (or two) and a full keyboard and mouse? These devices can just be like a laptop. At work I dock my laptop and use a wireless keyboard and mouse as well as dual monitors. If I go to a meeting, I undock and then use the monitor screen and the built in touchpad and keyboard. I think Motorola already created something like this.

    In regards to the horsepower argument, there will always be a need to desktop computers. It's just a matter of how mainstream\niche the market will be. Just like the AS/400, there might not be a mainstream need for it but I'm sure companies will continue to run them for decades with decades old code.
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    Originally Posted by cody_e
    And you couldn't eventually dock those devices to a docking station that is hooked to a monitor (or two) and a full keyboard and mouse? These devices can just be like a laptop. At work I dock my laptop and use a wireless keyboard and mouse as well as dual monitors. If I go to a meeting, I undock and then use the monitor screen and the built in touchpad and keyboard. I think Motorola already created something like this.
    Yeah my phone has the capability to be docked in such a way. I have the Motorla Atrix phone (which I am hopefully about due to be upgraded anyways as I have had the phone a while) which has a lapdock feature so I could use my phone as a laptop. I never have bought/tried out the feature but it does seem neat.,
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    Originally Posted by Basslord1124
    Yeah my phone has the capability to be docked in such a way. I have the Motorla Atrix phone (which I am hopefully about due to be upgraded anyways as I have had the phone a while) which has a lapdock feature so I could use my phone as a laptop. I never have bought/tried out the feature but it does seem neat.,
    I really think this is the future for the majority of home users. We've got to the point where the average smartphone can handle the majority of the everyday tasks that a person needs. I mean just from a materials standpoint it's way cheaper to produce a smartphone than it is to produce a whole desktop computer with the case and everything.
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    I mean just from a materials standpoint it's way cheaper to produce a smartphone than it is to produce a whole desktop computer with the case and everything.
    The finished product may consist of less raw material, but producing a smartphone is definitely not way cheaper than producing a desktop, particularly if you take into consideration the cost:performance ratio. Unsubsidized smartphones can be shockingly expensive.

    However, I agree that docked mobile devices are the future for a majority of home users. These types of consumers are focused primarily on content consumption, which is where mobile devices excel the most.


    Horsepower aside, one of the biggest roadblocks that I see for wider-scale adoption of mobile devices is the operating systems and software. None of the mobile devices that I have used to date have operating systems and applications that I see as suitable for serious computing and business work. Software developers are having one hell of a difficult time coming up with interfaces that are suitable for devices that have both touchscreens and dock-able keyboard/mouse support (see: Windows 8, Unity, and Gnome 3), and until they do it is going to be literally impossible to replace desktop/laptops with smartphones/tablets for most purposes.

    I have been using Windows 8 for the last month on a desktop, and it's actually not really that bad except for a handful of utterly retarded UI decisions (like the location of the shutdown option) that thankfully don't impact most workflows (I only shutdown once per day, if that). So it would not surprise me if Win 9 eventually fixes this mobile device software interface issue. I feel as if Microsoft is probably taking the best approach to the issue; instead of trying to force mouse users to use a touch interface or touch users to use a mouse interface, they just built two separate interfaces with very loose integration and let you switch between the two at will.
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    Originally Posted by E-Oreo
    The finished product may consist of less raw material, but producing a smartphone is definitely not way cheaper than producing a desktop, particularly if you take into consideration the costerformance ratio. Unsubsidized smartphones can be shockingly expensive.
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