Sorry, But Desktops Are Still Tops
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Everywhere I turn, I'm forced to read news about notebooks gaining popularity. I see more and more stories about the impending release of the Apple tablet. Even the recent news about Dell discontinuing the Mini 12 Netbook has captivated audiences. All the while, I'm wondering what happened to desktops.
You remember those things, right? They're the loud beasts that used to sit beneath your desk. They were towers. They were usually ugly. They were once the most important type of computer in the world. But in recent years, their grip on the global market has slipped. It has gotten so bad that in July, notebooks completed a full year of beating desktop sales. According to market research firm, iSuppli, desktop shipments plummeted by 18.1 percent to 124.4 million units. Notebook shipments rose by 11.7 percent to 155.97 million units.
It makes sense. Notebooks are becoming more and more powerful. They're easily portable. Perhaps most importantly, they offer greater enterprise productivity.
But that doesn't mean that they deserve all the accolades. After all, 124.4 desktop PC shipments isn't anything to scoff at. But it goes beyond shipments. The reality is, desktops are still the superior machines.
Admittedly, saying that does require a few caveats. Desktops are ideal for the power user or the gamer. For someone who needs mobility and doesn't care about power, the notebook is the go-to product.
I'm a power user. To me, a notebook or a netbook don't quite cut it. When I need to encode video, my notebook is useless. In fact, it slows down to such a crawl that I take a run, walk the dog, and watch The Godfather, rather than sit around and wait for it to get the job done. It's pathetic. But a high-powered desktop is different. It gets the job done quickly and efficiently. Instead of taking hours, it takes minutes. It's great.
When I want to play some video games, the desktop is my chosen weapon. Although notebooks are getting better at providing the necessary power to enjoy games, they're not quite there yet. Until they are, I'll be playing Crysis on my desktop, thank you very much.
I'd also argue that desktops provide far more flexibility that notebooks. If I'd like, I can install multiple graphics cards into my desktop and enjoy a three-, four-, or even five-monitor set-up. Just try to do that with your notebooks. And what if you really like that tower you bought? If you want, you can gut it, install all new components, and keep your rig set up in your office. You can't do that with your notebooks either.
I understand that both desktops and notebooks have their own, unique advantages. I also know that desktops are becoming less coveted in the market. But until notebooks can give me all the customization and flexibility I can get in my desktop, I'm not giving my desktop up. You can have your notebook. I'll be the guy podcasting, playing a game, encoding video, and checking multiple e-mail accounts on my five monitors -- at the same time.
Beat that, notebooks.
Don Reisinger is a technology columnist whose work has included popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move on Twitter at @donreisinger.