Wow. I would have never expected such a large reaction and so many comments on my latest article, The Mobile Computer: Outpacing the desktop. It generated 14 comments here on Hardware Revolution and over 60 on Digg , as someone submitted the article and it went popular, it went to the front page of Digg and got a lot of attention from their users.

I’ll use this post to answer to the ten best comments and reactions that it got, as some of you really made me think. Many of you said that you rather use a desktop and a laptop together, as you like the extra power and storage from the desktop but also appreciate the portability of a laptop, when you’re on the go.

There were many reactions, some positive and some negative. Let me share the best ones with you and give me a chance to reply to them.

Your Frindly Neighborhood Computer Guy said:
I think there will always be a place for desktop computers, but they will change their look and place…moving from a big box sitting under your desk, to a sleek console sitting under your TV. After that, desktop computers will start to REPLACE your entire desk as “Surface computing” becomes more mainstream.

– That’s true, surface computing is likely to become more and more mainstream in the next few years. Will it be adapted by the majority of users though? I don’t know, I’m pretty sure that it will take a lot of time to convince users to switch from a keyboard and mouse to a touch-screen.

Also, prices need to come down before that happens. Desktops, laptops and mobiles are much cheaper and that’s why you’ll only see surface computing in businesses for a while.

Josh said:
Stupid article. Mobile hardware have always been derived from desktop tech. Unless that changes, I don’t see the desktop as we know disappearing any time soon. Case and point; the impending release of Nehalem. There won’t be a mobile chip until Q4 2009. Besides, laptops just don’t cut it for true power users. Sure, there are quad core laptops now, but they are far from common and they cost considerably more than a comparably configured desktop.

I also find it funny that someone like you, who describe yourself as “passionated about everything related to computers” and “enjoys overclocking, water-cooling, modding and getting the most performance from any computer” would find a laptop sufficient. I guess you’re not a hardcore user after all.

– Mobile hardware has always been derived from desktop tech? Do I need to remind you that the Core 2 Duo line-up was based on the Core Duo architecture, which was released on laptops only. Further more, the Core Duo architecture was based on the Pentium M, another architecture used only on laptops.

True, laptops don’t cut it for most power users. Quad core laptops are getting more and more common, with the return to school and surely more will be released for the holidays. True, they cost more, but some people have the money for it and it’s worth the expense to them.

The last part made me giggle. What do you consider a hardcore user? What part of using a laptop makes me less of “hardcore” user? If I were to mod my laptop and open it every once in a while, would that convince you? I enjoy getting the most performance from any computer, in whatever form it is.

What I said in my last post was that for most tasks that I do, my laptop is plenty enough for me. That doesn’t stop me from using my water-cooled overclocked desktop for tasks that are more demanding, such as video conversion.

hagfish said:
Desktops are cheaper. My workmate is an upgrade-junkie, so I get first dibs on his old bits every 18 months. My current X2 4600+ / 8600GT / 2GB DDR-400 rig cost me beans. It’s big, heavy, and ugly, but quiet, powerful, and CHEAP. My boys can play GuildWars, I can play TF2. I could drop in a 9800GT and play most anything. My PC is 8 years old, but everything in it has been replaced at least once in that time (including the case, 3 times). Try that with a laptop..

-You sound like one of my friends, who usually buy my old parts when I upgrade my desktop. It’s true that desktop computers are much better on that point, for upgrading. It’s way cheaper to upgrade a few parts then to change a whole laptop. Especially if you use your computer to play video games. Good point.


Keith Metcalfe said:
I still require a desktop for anything ‘powerful’ like games, multiple monitors, or just getting a lot of work done at my desk. Maybe if my laptop was hooked up where my desktop is, with a good docking station, I would favor the laptop, but then I wouldn’t really be using the portability. I really just don’t need the mobility, and when I do and am working on the laptop, I usually wish I was working on my desktop.

– Good point Keith. Some people just don’t need the mobility and that’s a reason why desktop could stick around longer than I suggested.


Keith said:
When the laptop running Pineview is released next year, I’m going to pump my dollars to get hold of one of the lightest mobile laptop for myself. The one that I have been having and proud to talk about has been 5 years old, and to be honest, it’s a good as it can be and I’m extremely happy with it. However, it’s just the weight that is of concern, 5kg!

– I’m in a similar situation, my laptop, which is getting close to 3 years old, is great for most of my usage. However, weight is a concern for me too, as I go out nearly everyday, on foot, bike or commuter transport(bus, subway and train) and at 7.5 lbs (A bit more than 3kg), it’s not very convenient nor comfortable to carry around all day long.

I’m unsure on my upgrade path, there are a lot of options available to us and even more coming in a close future. That would make an excellent topic to write about so I’ll write a post about this , for next week. Look forward to it 😉

BlackJacklesrer from Digg said:
“Give me a laptop that has 2TB of RAID5 storage, and can compress a DVD down to a 1gig .avi in under an hour and I’ll give up my desktop. Give me a laptop I can fix myself, replace part by part when things wear out. Give me a laptop with 10,000 RPM hard drives.

Most of the world would be fine getting around in a 2 cylinder car, but there’s a good number of people who crave the V8 – need the horsepower.”

– I really liked the car comparison here, with the point being that some people crave the computing of the desktop, even if they don’t really need it. It’s very true and it’s a reason why some people stick to desktops, for that extra edge of performance.

RAID 5 is certainly not coming soon to laptops, as it requires at least 3 hard drives. An external enclosure with RAID 0 on two hard drives would be nice for now, but only with an E-Sata connection, as FireWire and USB standards can’t keep up with the transfer rates of E-Sata. The problem is that no laptop that I know of offers an E-Sata connection yet, even FireWire connections are extremely rare on a laptop right now unfortunately.


sq2shootersq2shooter from Digg said:
I haven’t used a desktop regularly in three years. And I don’t see myself going back to one anytime in the near future. The convenience of a laptop is just unbeatable. I don’t game on a computer, so using a desktop for that is meaningless to me. There pretty much is no reason for me to be tied to my office anymore.

– Indeed, convenience and the possibility of bringing your laptop with you anywhere is a reason why a lot of people choose to have a laptop over a desktop.


esc27esc27 from Digg said:
For “mainstream use”, e.g. web surfing, typing, sure, mobile PCs will largely replace the desktop in time, but for anything else, the old desktop won’t disappear for quite a while, and even as they do it will be with the laptop pretending to be a desktop (external mouse, keyboard, hard drive, monitors, docking station, etc.)

Desktops won’t replace “servers” because they are designed for entirely different needs. Good servers, real servers are designed for stability, ease of repair, networking, and maximum up time. They have redundant power supplies and other components, and are often built to fit in and work with the technology available in server rooms and data centers.

Typical desktops are built with many single points of failure, designed mainly for direct human interface, not remote access and providing services.

– These are very good points. I don’t think that the desktop will entirely disappear, but it will become less and less popular over the years.

True, perhaps that desktop won’t replace true servers. What I meant is that I see more and more people use desktops as a web server or a game server. It’s much cheaper and it’s good enough for a lot of people who don’t have as high requirements as a data center let’s say.

However, I still think that servers will evolve and “learn” from desktops and laptops, especially in the power consumption department. More and more businesses are trying to cut down on costs.


KelmonKelmon from Digg said:
In days gone by I have shunned laptops because they were slow. These days, however, laptops are so fast that I can’t think of a good reason to buy a desktop. I’ve been converted to laptops for my current and past computers and I’m not going back.

– In recent years, laptop got closer and closer to desktop’s performance and with the introduction of dual-core chips and the drop in prices of RAM, fast laptops are cheaper and faster than ever. In your case,  which is the same as many other people, a laptop offers plenty enough power, with all the convenience on top of it.

TechMike from Digg said:
My office has become 99% laptop: lower power consumption means savings on electricity, and less excess heat to get rid of with costly air conditioning. Laptops are the “green” alternative.

– Mike that’s an excellent point. For offices that don’t need powerful computers, for accounting, telecommunications and many other departments, laptops are an excellent green alternative. As Mike pointed out, they consume less electricity and output less heat than desktops, thus making them cheaper to operate long-term.

gkiltzgkiltz from Digg said:
The desktop will become like the mainframe. It will have certain, specific uses, that the laptop really doesn’t do that well. In that way, it will always be around, even if mainstream consumer technology has gone several other directions.
It won’t go completely away, but it will become a niche product!

– That makes a lot of sense, I can see desktops still being used in the future, but more as a niche product, for costumers who require a desktop.

Alright, so let’s put all of this together, so I can resume this for you. According to you all:

The desktop is here to stay, at least for a long time. It’s likely to become a niche and be used mostly by power users who want/needs the power, gamers, modders who like to upgrade their PC often and people who don’t need the mobility of a mobile computer.

Laptops and mobile computers, are preferred by people who don’t need the extra computing power that desktops offer, like to be on the move and just prefer the convenience of a laptop. Lower power consumption is also a reason why businesses adapt laptops. Many people are also looking forward to future releases, to see what laptops and mobile computers will have to offer in the future.

Some people like both, they enjoy the computing power of desktops and the possibility of using multiple displays, while being able to use and enjoy the convenience of a laptop on the go.

We all seem to agree that Mobile computers are going to become the new standard. Already this year, with the introduction of more smart phones (Iphone anyone?) and sub notebooks, the golden days of mobile computing are only beginning.

As much as I’m enjoying this today, I always will be looking forward to future products and future trends and you’ll be reading about it as I discuss them with you. Of course, I’m human and what I write here is my opinion, which is why you can always comment and give us your very own point of view.

I wish you all a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.