Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The end of my desktop?

I will probably be moving house soon and one of the things I have been thinking about is if I need my desktop PC.

I use my smartphone more than I do my desktop and more and more apps are coming out that are similar or identical to the software I have on my PC. A lot of my data is now backed up to the cloud and increasingly cheaper SD cards are getting to a size sufficient for all my music and pictures. So the question is do I spend £200-£400 on new furniture to accommodate my massive (and heavy) tower PC, 19" monitor, printer, keyboard, mouse and software library, or do I spend the same money on a tablet?

Considerations:

Upgrades/Updates
I suppose it is an advantage to be able to upgrade the components as you need to. On the other hand a new graphics card, memory, processor every few years can add up to the cost of a new tablet, if you include upgrading to USB 3 or Blu-ray or whatever the latest technology turns out to be.

The problem is you often need to upgrade your hardware if you are a Windows user to take advantage of the latest OS and games. Also there is the added cost of OS upgrades if you are running Windows or Mac, not a problem though if you run a free Linux distro (which I currently am not). The power required to run a desktop would also cost more.

An advantage would also be avoiding the constant update procedure to all your software, drivers and OS. Yes there are updates for tablets and their apps, but they are far less frequent and time-consuming to do.

Software
Since our university has 'gone Google', as Google like to say, most things get opened in Google Docs automatically and I have had no problems reading, editing and creating documents from my android phone.

I have picture and video editing applications on there too, as well as media players and a few office tools. I can't currently think of any software I would miss. An advantage of an android tablet over an Apple would be the inclusion of Adobe applications like Flash to take full advantage the web.

Games
Since my little one has come along gone are the days of 300+ hour Championship Manager careers and if I have the urge to shoot something there is always the console for that.

Security
So far, most of the threats out there still seem to target PC's but we can expect a rise of tablet threats as they become more popular. There is security software arriving though from most of the big players including Lookout, Norton, BitDefender, McAfee, AVG, Kaspersky and Eset.

Peripherals
I would not be able to get rid of my work computer as I need things like serial connections for configuring switches and access points, but for home? I could probably get away with just setting up Google cloud print. Having a full size, hardware keyboard and mouse though does make things easier no matter how good on-screen keyboards are. Especially for complex editing and accurate design.

Storage
The main reason for keeping the desktop. I have a couple of hard drives in my PC and can add more if necessary. Storage, particularly for HDD's is extremely cheap and I already have well over a TB in my PC. One of the main considerations is can I do without all the local storage I currently have?

A tablet may only have 16GB, 32GB or 64GB but I will also have my online storage (Skydrive 25GB, Google 25GB, Dropbox 2GB, Evernote 60MB/month) available.

Portability and space
If I were to do away with the desktop then a bonus would be having another bedroom available, rather than it being used as a room to keep the computer in. Also the tablet would be light enough to carry anywhere but this also then creates the opportunity for it to get lost or damaged.

Speed
Faster boot times and applications on a tablet, what's not to like?

Overall I am struggling to find a reason to hold on to the desktop. I have an small attachment to it as I built it myself and I cannot imagine not having a PC. I also am not sure I won't miss those years and years of data I built up but the advantages of ditching the PC seem to outweigh the negatives. Time to look at the prices of honeycomb tablets...

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