More on the “PC is Dead” Story

This is a blog. It’s not a work blog. It’s just a place to write, esophagitis solidify some ideas, website and clear my head. So although I say it’s not a work blog, a lot of the stuff here will have to deal with what I think about during work because my career involves the grand Venn diagram between technology, teaching, learning, and research. More broadly, about technology and culture. I’m a nerd at heart, so why wouldn’t I write about technology and culture?

If you like what I have to say, please comment. If you don’t like what I have to say, please comment. If you’re not interested in what I have to say, then I’m sure the Interwebs have more interesting blogs for you to read. If you’re trying to get people to buy prescription drugs via clever comments on this site, please fuck off! This blog is not about erectile dysfunction.

I’m Allan Gyorke. Currently the Director of Education Technology Services at Penn State.
This is a blog. It’s not a work blog. It’s just a place to write, esophagitis solidify some ideas, website and clear my head. So although I say it’s not a work blog, a lot of the stuff here will have to deal with what I think about during work because my career involves the grand Venn diagram between technology, teaching, learning, and research. More broadly, about technology and culture. I’m a nerd at heart, so why wouldn’t I write about technology and culture?

If you like what I have to say, please comment. If you don’t like what I have to say, please comment. If you’re not interested in what I have to say, then I’m sure the Interwebs have more interesting blogs for you to read. If you’re trying to get people to buy prescription drugs via clever comments on this site, please fuck off! This blog is not about erectile dysfunction.

I’m Allan Gyorke. Currently the Director of Education Technology Services at Penn State.
On Monday, visit this I was interviewed by Chad Brooks, apoplectic a writer for Business News Daily. He was writing an article about the death of the PC, pilule which I was surprised to see published on Tuesday morning as “The PC (As We Know It) Is Dead“, which was also picked up by the Christian Science Monitor and MSNBC among others. How do journalists put this stuff together so quickly?

When the interview started, Chad told me what he was writing about and asked if I thought the PC was dead. I said that that depends on what you mean by “PC”. Certainly the desktop PC is rapidly disappearing.

Several years ago, it used to be that desktops were a lot cheaper, more powerful, more expandable, had larger displays, and were easier to connect to a network than laptops. Today, the advantage gap of a desktop over a laptop has practically disappeared. Laptops have become so inexpensive that I could go to Best Buy and pick up a Dell laptop with a webcam, wireless or wired connection, DVD, and a graphics accelerator for under $400. It may not be the best gaming PC in the world, but it will suffice for most student needs – Facebook, email, Twitter, YouTube, Hulu, writing papers, video chat, Skype, etc… In addition, the low cost of an external LCD monitor for a larger display when needed, increased battery life, and a peppering of WiFi hot spots around town make laptops very compelling.

On top of that, you have the sudden growth in the popularity of tablets that started with release of the iPad last year. Now, I’m finding that my iPad is what I take with me for convenient portability and access. My laptop tends to stay put except for cases when I need to do some more intense writing or switch back and forth between applications.

Why would someone continue to use a desktop PC? There are still a few good reasons: the need to add expansion cards so you can support multiple monitors or specialized inputs; very high-end gaming (or stock trading) where response time can make a real difference and you may need to run multiple monitors to maximize your field of vision; and high-end graphics, audio, video, and animation work where rendering time has a significant productivity impact. I think even those cases will disappear as laptops continue to become more powerful – and for very high-end computational work you’d send that out to the cloud and have the job finished and returned much faster than if you crunched the work on a desktop personal computer.

What’s next? Now that the next version of Apple’s OS X will have apps for the mac and iPad-like gestures, I would be surprised if the next generation of Apple laptops didn’t have touch screens. And what Apple does will be quickly copied by others. You also have Google’s Chromebook, which looks like a laptop, but completely skips the local storage in favor of a cloud-only environment and the ability to log into any of them with no setup and still have access to all of your apps.

Overall, I’m very happy to see a divergence in the way we think about computing. That will lead to a round of experimentation with form factors and interface designs – the best of which will be broadly adopted into a new generation of more portable devices.

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2 Responses to More on the “PC is Dead” Story

  1. Karen says:

    Aristotle believed the essential nature of things lay not at their cause or beginning but at their end (telos).  What determines a thing's nature is what counts as a successful operation: its achieving what it is supposed to achieve.  Tablets have their place, I think they are efficient, easy to use, and great for some tasks.  Will they replace the desktop? I am not so sure.  Will the desktop get smaller? Probably (as long as I can still have my 3 22+ inch monitors for design).  People said Nook and Kindle were the end of books. They were wrong.  People said online education would replace face to face, they were wrong. You can dig in your garden with a fork, but is that efficient just because it is smaller and sleeker? Each thing has its purpose.  🙂

    • Allan Gyorke says:

      I completely agree – you like your desktop because it can support three monitors.  I see gamers and stock traders with mega-systems like that and it's brilliant.  That's not the typical computer use though.

      What I also should have mentioned are cases where I'm seeing tablets being used simultaneously in conjunction with a laptop or desktop as a secondary input device.  I think we'll see more of that as well.

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