Are You Done With Desktops?

By  |  Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 11:43 am

IBM PCI recently had a minor epiphany: I’m probably never going to buy another desktop PC. It shouldn’t have come as a revelation given that the last one I got (in January of 2007) sits largely unused, except when I need to grab a particular old file off its hard drive. Laptops give me everything I need from a computer, and their downsides–smaller screens, lower-capacity hard drives–are far outweighed by their multiple virtues.

Market share figures show that the world’s made the leap to laptops, too–they’re the planet’s default personal computer, and it’s desktops that are now the variant device.

Which leads to today’s two-part T-Poll..



21 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom Merritt Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Desktops have become specialty devices. You *might* buy one for media center use. More likely you might get a gaming rig. But I don’t see why the majority of people wouldn’t choose a laptop anymore, considering the prices and the availability of network storage fro almost anything.

  2. Andrew Mager Says:

    Yes. Been done with them.

    Two years ago at CNET, they replaced our desktops with laptops. We got huge displays to plug into them. Now we can work from home.

  3. Scott Says:

    We actually went from laptops to desktops here at work a few years ago. We very rarely need to work “in the field”, and we do have some general purpose laptops available for those very rare occasions. However, the nature of our business demands very powerful workstations, and as such, it is cheaper for us to just get powerful desktops w/ large displays.

    However, @ home, I actually do about 90% of my home computing via my iPhone while sitting on the couch. For those times when I need a “PC” (or I’m just doing more work and want larger controls), I use a laptop. I can use it either on the couch (w/ the touchpad), or I typically find myself sitting at a desk with a USB mouse.

  4. Jared Says:

    I have a Media Center, a “normal” desktop but I will grab a netbook to travel with. I have enough horse power at home and most of what I do outside of home does not require much computing power.

  5. Cathy Says:

    Well we’ll still need the desktop at home to serve as Kip’s media storage device, but I’ve moved to my work laptop as a primary computer at home, since it allows me to look at stuff while watching kiddy tv shows.

    My next work machine will probably be a laptop that I can plug into a monitor.

  6. Marc Says:

    I recently put an extra 2GB of RAM into my PC desktop at work.
    Had it been a laptop I would have had to have replaced the existing RAM, rather than add two more sticks to make four in total. I would have cost a lot more. You can’t use two monitors with a laptop (well, 99.99% of laptops), only the laptop screen and another screen which is not as nice as two 22Inch screens side by side (which I would like!)

    Desktops last longer than laptops, because they can be more easily upgraded and are easier to clean. That said, I use a laptop for almost everything at home, even gaming. The only thing I use my desktop for is large downloads and watching media.

    In the business world, I see desktops staying put. At home, I think people will continue to move to laptops.

  7. Mike Cerm Says:

    I can’t imagine a future where I won’t have a desktop. Laptops with as much power will never be as cheap. Sure, I use my desktop as a Media Center for TV recording, but it’s not just a “specialty device” like Tom suggest. It’s a general purpose device. When I’m home, I like to stretch out with a pair of nice, large monitors, and use as system that can do everything I want to do. You just can’t do that with a laptop. If you could, the laptop would be huge, not portable, and would defeat the purpose of a laptop (that is, to be portable).

    For carrying around, I have a netbook. I can use that to access my desktop computer from anywhere that I have an internet connection. I find the desktop-and-netbook combo to be the cheapest, best way to cover all of my computing needs. That will always be the case.

  8. CC Says:

    I use desktop workstation with 2 monitors for work.

    Laptop or iPhone for everything else.

    Laptop + docking station is a reasonable solution, but I do need the 2 CPUs for my work…

  9. NanoGeek Says:

    I’m staying at school most of the day now, so my primary computer is a laptop. I never thought I’d say this, but the laptop is just as easy and comfortable as a desktop for me.

  10. Ken Says:

    I used to have a desktop, and then I went to university and a laptop was just more practical. My laptop from my student days still serves my needs well.

    It’s essentially a portable desktop now with a big monitor and full size desktop keyboard/mouse plugged in. Yet if I need to take my computer with me somewhere, it’s easy.

    I voted ‘toss-up’ for my next computer because it is – for the computing power I want from the computer I next buy, I’d have to buy quite a high-spec laptop which is at least double the price of a similarly specced desktop. (Yes, I’m looking at Macbook Pros…)

  11. Aaron Pressman Says:

    Have you ever owned one the big screen iMac’s? I have to say my 3-year-old 24″ iMac is among the greatest machines I’ve ever owned. Everything looks gorgeous on the screen, there’s plenty of room for multiple windows and it’s just been bullet-proof. It’s even luggable for long vacations at the summer house.

    Thought: is the rise of the cloud making it easier than ever to work on different machines without the hassles of copying files all over? is it easier to maintain your life on a laptop and desktop at the same time than it used to be? Seem like it to me.

  12. sfmitch Says:

    I use a desktop as my primary computer and a laptop when working out of the office, traveling or sometimes around the house. Can’t forget the the iPhone.

    Mobile Me, Drop Box and Evernote make a multi-computer existence very pleasant.

  13. mathiastck Says:

    Desktop hooked up to 36″ LCD that used to be my TV, used for Gaming, Development etc. Sitting next to it is a laptop that is perpetually tethered to it’s power cord that is used for Music, IM, etc. Months ago I used the laptop more for gaming, but it’s just to hard to play a pvp game without a real setup.

  14. John Baxter Says:

    I said my next computer will probably be a laptop. “Probably” because it’s always possible my desktop will die before I buy the planned MacBook Pro (to replace an old original Macbook and an old weak Sony laptop).

    But for computers to be used at home, I want and will continue to want desktop machines. I work at one of them, and do not want to struggle with the laptop compromises (or pay the laptop premium).

    Typed on my desktop Dell, which is not the desktop machine I called my primary computer in the first question.

  15. Angsuman Chakraborty Says:

    I work mostly in office. As such Desktop is my first preferences. It is:
    1. more configurable
    2. more reliable
    3. easier to upgrade
    4. did I mention cheaper?

    I guess we belong to different demographics, eh 🙂

  16. DTNick Says:

    I’ve been laptop only since getting my iBook in 2003 and realizing that I liked taking a computer on me and had no interest in switching from machine to machine.

  17. Dennis Jernberg Says:

    For me:
    1) desktop at home,
    2) laptop on the road.

    I prefer to use a desktop at home, so I can multiboot 3 different operating systems (WinXP, Win7, Ubuntu) and watch cable TV in a window while writing or tweeting. The laptop is mainly so I can write on the bus and maybe go online at a coffee shop or the library. Different uses, different purposes. I need both.

  18. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    Desktops for me: I’m a gamer, and desktops still outrun laptops by far for video editing and graphics due to the CPU power (that mainly for the video) and larger screen.
    Ok, there ARE laptops with 20″ screens, and even the MBP 17″ has a very nice resolution, but I’m not really into any laptop bigger than 15″, cause that takes away the portability imo.

    So I have a desktop which I use for almost everything (including gaming: so it’s not a mac :p ), and a laptop (15″ MBP) for working on the go.

  19. JDoors Says:

    Desktop for the foreseeable future. I don’t need to compute in front of the TV or on the toilet, batteries are an issue, laptop keyboards are uncomfortable, and nothing beats a full-size mouse on a desk for accuracy and useablility. I “get” that some people are fine with the compromises, but I’m not there yet.

  20. Snaggy Says:

    When Nitrozac and I visited Woz in the mid 2000’s, we were “shocked” to discover he had moved entirely to laptops. We ended up doing the same and couldn’t be happier. We work mostly at a desk with 17″ macBook Pros attached to a second monitor, but when we need to, we just grab it and go, whether that be to a conference in another city, mom’s house, or just in front of the TV.

  21. Luka Says:

    I used to have both, desktop for working at home (bought in june 2006), laptop (bought september last year) to carry with me and to work when away from home. It was somewhat of a problem working on two computers as I sometimes forgot to copy most recent version of it.

    Then desktop died on me and I started using just laptop rather than have desktop repaired. Laptop was also more capable, being newer. I reused some of hardware from desktop and plugged it into laptop (19” monitor, ergonomical keyboard and speakers) when I work at home.

    As far as small hard disk goes I use 500 GB external disk to copy files I don’t need constantly (also serves as a back-up) so small size is not a problem.

    IMO for personal use laptops are the way to go. You can use it at home and if you invest into larger monitor and regular keyboard you do away with it’s drawbacks. Throw in external disk, which can also serve as valuable back-up, and you barely see the difference. Granted they are more expensive then comparable desktop but they are portable, which is today very valauble.

    For companies, however, I’d say desktops are the way to go. They are cheaper and you don’t need to carry them around. Simply buy some laptops when you need to be mobile and then copy required files on USB or transfer them to other computers.