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Tablets could spark a comeback for desktop PCs

There is no doubt that tablets are finding their way into more public-sector workplaces, in government agencies, field offices and, particularly, in educational settings. The form factor started by the Apple iPad is gaining a larger share of the computer landscape practically every month.

That growth might lead people to think that, like the VHS tape in the advent of DVDs, desktop PCs are on their way out. After all, to make room for something new, you have to get rid of something old. But that will probably never happen — in fact, we may see a surge of desktop sales in the future.

The simple fact is that, while a tablet can do many things, there are certain resource-intensive applications that are currently beyond its ability. Graphics programs such as Photoshop and AutoCAD are too much for the average tablet. And while a tablet can handle simple spreadsheets, a grid loaded down with formulae and references likely will be beyond its abilities too. Tasks such as these definitely fall into the realm of desktop computing.

Multitasking is another area where the PC does better than the tablet. Not only do tablets lack the processing power to run more than a few programs simultaneously, there simply isn’t enough real estate on a less-than-10-inch display to effectively see what you are doing in multiple programs at the same time.

So for some tasks at least, the desktop PC isn’t going anywhere. The more likely victim of tablets’ growth could be the notebook PC.

Sure, your notebook is powerful enough to handle most desktop-like activity. But tell me something: Where is your notebook right now? If you are like many government and corporate users, it is docked into a station with a larger monitor, keyboard and mouse. And if you have a tablet to complement your PC — as more and more employees do — why bother carrying a notebook as well? Many IT departments are realizing that, if users are just going to leave their notebooks docked all the time, they might was well replace those notebooks with less expensive desktops.

As tablets become more powerful and eventually comparable to notebooks, I foresee the place of the desktop computer becoming even more secure. And unless really huge tablets go into common usage, many of us will always need desktop PCs.

Posted by Greg Crowe on Dec 11, 2012 at 9:39 AM


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