Desktop or laptop, that is the question
Ever since the first portable computer came out in the late 1980's the question has lingered: Desktop or laptop?
Of course, the first "portable" computers weighed well over 20 pounds and were slower and less powerful than desktops, so it was an easy question then. But nowadays it might still be very simple.
Interestingly enough, the first question isn't whether or not you need portability. The fact is that everyone can benefit from portability. Whether you want to work in the living room, conference room or in your associates' cubicle, being able to pick up your computer and go is a great convenience.
It used to be a real hassle to work without being connected to a network. But the headaches formerly associated with laptop connectivity have largely disappeared with the advent of wireless networking technologies such as 802.11 and aircards.
Furthermore, for the time being anyway, hardware capacity is far exceeding the requirements of most software applications today. A contemporary "low end" computer is more than capable of running browsers, e-mail client and general office-productivity software. This is in contrast to just a few years ago when folks had to sacrifice performance of even the simplest applications while using a laptop.
So despite the fact that similarly powered desktops are still less expensive than laptops, adequate laptops can be acquired very economically.
So is this the death knell for desktops? Far from it. Many folks still like the advantages brought upon by immobile computers.
The biggest advantage for desktop computers is that they are easier to support, maintain, and upgrade.
Monitor goes dead? A new display -- bigger and better than the old one with a smaller footprint -- can be had relatively cheaply.
If the monitor goes dead on your laptop, and it's out of warranty, look to spend twice as much.
On top of that, a big monitor on a laptop is the single biggest factor when it comes to weight. The saying in the industry is that you never know what 2 pounds feels like until you get a laptop with a big display.
Want more memory or a bigger hard drive on your desktop? It's cheap, and even the biggest klutzes can install it themselves, or hire someone to do it for cheap. Laptop upgrades, however, can be tricky, require specialized tools, and the parts can be expensive.
Not to mention the obvious limitation on space. Most desktops will take at least two hard drives plus a DVD. It's a rare laptop that will do the same.
So who benefits from a desktop? Typically, these folks include software developers, researchers and, of course, gamers.