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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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Reader Comments

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 Robert Colorado

I work in a corporate support environment, supporting remote customers, the comment that the desktop or for that matter the laptop is dead is crazy. Currently a tablet that can do the tasks that my PC can do costs more than a desktop that can do the same thing. Our company issued 500 dollar laptops to all of our support engineers. The work performed on them can easily be performed by a 300 dollar desktop. To say that a tablet could replace my laptop or a desktop in my environment with the apps I need to run, with the security I need to pass thru is just not true. Yes, I have a tablet, and its great, TO SURF THE NET and CHECK EMAIL. I have my laptop docked to 2 23" HD monitors, and I use every bit of the real estate which those monitors provide. So Tablet Fanboys don't tell us that we can do our jobs with tablets over a PC Robert

Mon, Dec 17, 2012

As for desktops and gaming, your wrong. There are tablets that can do everything you say video wise and sound. Tablets are a desktop when plugged into a monitor with a docking station. Here is one you really don't want to hear. The Xbox will not be able to prop up Microsoft and I'm not really sure how that is going to go for all the gamers out there. If you have not looked lately Microsoft posted a large loss and it will by no means be their last. Apparently change is not a strong suit for a lot of people.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 NOC

Paul, you are obviously not a gamer if you think that gamers are moving to tablet computers in any numbers at all. There are no gaming tablets out there that can drive real games like Borderlands 2, Skyrim or Call of Duty Black Ops II. PC gamers are even starting to take over market share from gaming consoles, and this after all the gaming magazines said that PC gaming was dead. If you want to fool around with Angry Birds or online casino apps, then sure, plug your tablet into a dock and go to town. But that wont get you access to some of the most amazing games out there now, running at 60 frames per second with HD sound streaming to your wireless headset. I happen to own several “gaming” tablets and while they are fun for some titles like iBomber, Torchlight, or perhaps the remake of Baldur’s Gate, they don’t come anywhere close to gaming on the PC. The desktop isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 ATPMSD

I agree, desktops are dead and will not see resurrection. The most likely scenario is a Virtual workstation which can be accessed via the tablet for power apps. And as Paul noted, when you get to the office you simply dock the tablet for the full screen, keyboard and mouse experience.

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 Paul

Desktops are on their way out. As things get smaller and more powerful you will simply dock your tablet while at work. There are dual and quad core tablets out there. There are tablets that have 2 gigs of ram and probably soon to be 4 gigs. The way of the future will be your tablet you plug into a dock or project to a screen at your desk. I bet in the near future you will see blade servers that the blades are just a tablet plugged into a chassis. Desktop come back. Maybe for nostalgia purpose. They are to expensive and take up to much space. Most high end tablets have just as good a video card as a desktop capable of doing cad. The gaming console is on its way to a tablet shift. You will do the same thing. You will take your gaming tablet plug it into a dock and play while at home and take it with you when you go. Whats the matter, change scare you?

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