Personal Computing Devices

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 17, 2011

Filed under: Nerd Culture 175 comments


Here is a joke I made a while ago:


In truth, this almost never applies to me. I’m old-school when it comes to computing. I sit at a computer desk, with a computer chair, looking at a large monitor with one hand on a full-sized keyboard and the other on a full-sized mouse. The computer itself is tied into a couple of consoles, a router, a hierarchy of power strips, a printer, some speakers, a headset, and a PC version of the XBox controller. The only thing “mobile” about this computer is that I might be able to move it to the other side of the room in an afternoon.

In related news (it doesn’t seem related yet, but I’m getting there) MovieBob had a bit on the death of PC Gaming this week:

No, I don’t want to open that can of worms and argue about whether or not the PC is dying. I think we’ve danced that jig a few times already. If you want to respond to MovieBob, then by all means, join that conversation.

What’s interesting to me is what he has to say about mobile devices. Up until PAX, mobile devices seemed exotic and almost decadently superfluous to me. They were luxury items. For the price of the latest iPhone you can get a mid-range desktop PC with a solid graphics card. Its usefulness was lost on a reclusive techno hermit like me.

But last weekend I got a peek at how all of you hip, connected, on-the-go youngsters live, and I realized just how useful mobile devices can be. I was at PAX, schleping my daughter’s eeePC around the show. About every twenty minutes I thought of something I wanted to say, or I realized I wanted to see what someone else had to say. I had a need for connectivity, but I didn’t have the right tool for the job. It wasn’t the size of the eeePC that was the problem, but the shape and intent of the device. It’s a tiny laptop, made to sit on your lap. (Or whatever you’ve got to keep gravity from having its way with the thing.) It took nearly a minute to boot up and then required some kind of support. It took a minute to pack and unpack. It’s not the sort of thing you can bring out while standing in line, or while waiting for a bus, or while waiting for a boring conversation to end.

Bob’s discussion about how mobiles are soaking up the desktop PC market is interesting. I’ve been using a computer in the same way since about 1990, and I’ve come to take it for granted that this is just How You Use A Computer. Hearing his thoughts on them and seeing the young people writing Tweets on their little postage-stamp computers has shown me that I’ve become a bit of an anachronism.

I think there will always be a place for desktops, mostly because you need a proper setup to do creative work. I wouldn’t want to do video editing on a 4-inch screen, and I wouldn’t want to try to write a novel with my thumbs. I’d much rather write code while using ergonomic tools in a proper chair, as opposed to tapping it out while curled up on the couch. I don’t think mobiles can really provide a proper work environment, no matter how powerful they become. (And don’t bother arguing this point if you’re under 25. You have no idea. Wait until you’re in your 30’s, and then try typing for a few hours while you’re hunched over. See how quickly you learn to stop doing it.)

So, I’ve just discovered mobile computing, is what I’m saying. I might be a decade late, but I think I’m starting to get it.


From The Archives:

175 thoughts on “Personal Computing Devices

  1. guy says:

    I have a burning hatred of touchscreens because they are terrible, so I’m not as into the mobile devices thing as other members of my age group.

    1. CTrees says:

      Having you tried a touch screen on a current, high end phone (iPhone, Droid2, etc.)? Alternatively, have you tried a nice Wacom with a pen input, with very fine sensitivity levels? Because… while it was true in past that touch screens kinda sucked, especially compared to a trusty mouse and keyboard, there are some REALLY well engineered ones, now. Seriously, I can’t shake the belief that you don’t really know what you’re talking about, and are allowing previously valid prejudices to linger past their expiration date.

      1. Mari says:

        Possibly. Or possibly some people just have issues with touchscreens. Maybe not everybody but some people. Yes, I’ve tried an iPhone. I’ve tried some of the $350+ android phones. I have a touchscreen alarm clock. I have a touchscreen GPS. They all freaking HATE me.

        My phone does that “slide here to answer” thing and I miss about 1/3 of all calls because the phone didn’t believe me as I was sliding and screaming at it. My nook either flips three pages at a time or doesn’t turn the page at all. I double tap to go to the table of contents and it highlights words (a single-tap action) but then I single tap and suddenly the contents is opened. I don’t use my GPS in my car because I wind up tapping to zoom in on the map and it zooms in on an area thirty miles from where I intended. I’m not allowed to set the alarms on the alarm clock anymore because every time I hit the minute button the touchscreen reads that I hit “time set” to the right of that and I reset the clock instead.

        Strangely, the hubs has none of these problems with the exact same devices. He touches a touch screen and it says, “Yeah, OK, I understood that” and does what he wants.

        I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t dislike touchscreens I just can’t manage to use them. I’m sure they work very well but they don’t do it FOR ME. Which makes them not all that useful for me personally but I’m all for anybody else that wants to use them.

        1. krellen says:

          I have thick, stubby fingers. Until they start making touchscreens the size of an average desktop keyboard, I will never be using them effectively; I simply lack the fine touch that touchscreens require to work (speaking from the experience of trying to get one of my manager’s brand-new iPhones hooked up to our email.)

          Typing with a stylus is never going to be as efficient as typing with your whole hand (the difference between one input and five). Maybe if they invent “stylus-gloves” for us stubby-fingered we might get somewhere.

          1. ccesarano says:

            One of the things I liked about the now deceased Zune I have (I’ll miss you) was its little touch pad also acted as a set of buttons. You could scroll up or down or side-to-side, but you could also just press down on it to go up, down, left or right. Note this isn’t a touch SCREEN device, but a small touchpad.

            I wish I could pull my phone from my pocket and just press a button to answer or ignore. There was a time I accidentally slide Decline while pulling it from my pocket, in fact. It used to be on my older phone I could just hit a button and it would ignore. I didn’t even have to slide my hand in my pocket, I’d just press from my jeans.

            Not so anymore. Which is a shame, because it’s not like one or two extra generic purpose buttons would take up that much more space.

            1. Desgardes says:

              But if you could do it in your pocket, how would everyone know what phone you have? You’re not a walking advertisement if you don’t. :3

              That’d be my guess at why, at least.

            2. MrWhales says:

              It’s very odd with my phone, it has this super old style touchscreen, which only picks up with fingers, or whatever body part that is free, unlike my last one, which i could use the nonwriting end of a pen on. Anyway, it has an onscreen unlock for the touchscreen, but the screen is so sensitive, i can use the phone from my pocket, without my hand in my pocket. It looks rather odd. but kinda cool.

          2. Jarenth says:

            Your visual image of ‘stylus-gloves’ makes me think of Freddy Krueger, for some reason.

            1. Adam says:

              Didn’t someone (probably in the Far East) make a “sausage glove” so you could still use touch devices without freezing your had by removing your glove. IIRC, sausages had the right conductance required…

              1. Taellosse says:

                Dunno about actual sausages, but there are a couple of actual gloves available that are made to work with capacitative touch screens, so you can keep your hands warm and still use your iPhone. As is typical with such accessories, their overpriced, but they are available.

            2. krellen says:

              Yeah, me too.

        2. Kyte says:

          When messing around with touchscreens (not touchpads, interestingly enough), using the fingernail instead of the finger itself tends to yield better accuracy. And since fingernails are usually pointier, you also have an easier time pressing right where you want to.
          Give it a try, maybe it’ll help.

          1. Mari says:

            That would require growing my nails out, which I’m loathe to do. Mine naturally break off just at fingertip length or end up doing other equally horrible things. So I keep my nails clipped at that length, which is great for typing on a normal keyboard anyway.

            Personally I’ve always wondered if my issues with touchscreens were related to my issues with batteries (I suck the life out of them – replace watch batteries every 3-4 months etc) and my uncanny (according to the hubs and kids at least) ability to sense or “feel” electrical devices that are drawing energy (I know when the TV’s left on with no receiver or other device input from a room away and know when a phone is about to ring about ten seconds before it does so). I joke that I must just have a magnetic personality.

            1. Mephane says:

              Well, you may actually be right there. There actually are people whose nervous system does some really weird stuff with electricity and electromagnetic fields. These cases are rare, but real. What you describe sounds like just that. Now consider that most touch screens nowadays utilize electric effects to sense user input, not physical pressure, this could very well mean that whatever is different about your body’s electromagnetic field could have an effect on that touch screen technology and produce the very effect you describe – sensing single touch as double and vice versa, scrolling too much or too little etc.

          2. Nyaz says:

            Except that doesn’t work on all touchscreens (like the iPhone), unfortunately.

          3. K says:

            That is a terrible suggestion. Modern touchscreens work by measuring the difference of electrical flow. Your finger nail is not a conductor, which means it won’t work at all.

            Wrong use of touchscreens is the primary reason why people find them hard to use. Pressure and finger nails are your enemies.

        3. CTrees says:

          Point taken. However, guy didn’t say “touchscreens are terrible for me,” or “touchscreens are terrible because I have difficulty using them.” Rather, he said, “I have a burning hatred of touchscreens because they are terrible,” which I believe is fundamentally untrue.

          However, it does really piss me off that if it’s cold outside, I have to take my gloves off to answer my phone now. :-/

      2. Mina says:

        If I can’t use my fingernails on it, it sucks. Period.

      3. kreek says:

        my issue with touchscreen devices


        see by defintion a touch screen is a screen, that you touch (imagine that XD) and when people touch something, they leave behind oily residue which gets smeared all over the place

        now that might not be an issue for alot of people but some people (like me) cant stand to have an obstructed view of whatever they are looking at, and a fingerprint covered screen is one of the most annoying things in the world

        that said, i still want an ipad

        1. Imp says:

          I’m the same way. My crazy OCD-ness couldn’t handle the fingerprints on my iPad. Get a matte screen protector. It really hides them very well, and has the added benefit of making it easier to read in sunlight!

      4. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Nope,modern touch screens suck too.I would never,ever trade my keyboard phone for one with a touch screen.And not just because of the precision,which can gotten used to(a bit),but mostly because of the durability.I use my cell phone a lot.For phone calls,for text,for music and books when Im not in my house,and for occasional photography.Not to mention that Im always carrying it in my pocket,which just adds to the wear and tear.And Im yet to see a single touch screen that doesnt get scratched after extensive use,which would translate to about 6-12 months for me.And I hate scratches.If had the money to change the screen every 6 or so months like I change the protective sheets for my cell,Id gladly use one.But I dont have that kind of money,so no.

        Once they make a durable touch screen,Id give it a shot.And just for comparison of what I consider durable,Im still occasionally using my 10 yeard old cell phone,and it still works perfectly,despite its battery cover being loose and having nasty scratches all over it.

        1. Taellosse says:

          The glass they use on iPhones and Androids is pretty durable and scratch resistant, for what it’s worth. You can also get clear plastic screen protectors designed not to interfere with the usability of the device, too. Some of them are a little tricky to apply, since you’ve got to get it to lay perfectly flat and not let any air bubbles in, but they’re not THAT hard to use.

          Bear in mind that all this is coming from someone who has had the same cheap-ass clamshell cell phone for 6 years–so long that it still says “Cingular” on the little screen when I turn it on.

          On the other hand, I have had an iPod touch for a couple of years now, and quite like it.

      5. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Hi from the future here if anybody ever reads this. It is now 2023. My smartphone is a Samsung Galaxy S22 plus or ultra I forget. Which was the high end android phone last year. So smartphone touchscreens have either been the same or better in that time. But in 2011, there were still android phones with slideout physical keyboards and I had one and I still wish I had one. I frequently screw up with a touch keyboard but not long after 2011, those stopped being sold. Last time I checked, you could still get a phone case that adds a slideout keyboard to your phone but its cumbersome and there’s probably bluetooth latency and I’d really rather it be integrated into the device.

    2. Blake says:

      I’m similar, hence why I bought an HTC Desire Z as my last phone, all the apps and such of your average android with a full QWERTY keyboard so I can actually text with the thing.

    3. PeterTheGreat says:

      I used to have a problem with touchscreens, too, and I’m 25. I also have a serious problem with motion-controlled gaming, because I REALLY don’t want to be waving my arms around like an idiot to play Mass Effect 6. Technology’s come a long way, though, to allow this kind of thing at all.

      I work in the cash register industry, and touchscreens can be rather gimmicky if you don’t understand the technology behind your device.

      Most (if not all) modern cell phones use capacitive touchscreens – this uses the electrical resistance of your finger to punch a hole in a sensor grid, letting the computer know where your finger is. Fingernails and styli don’t work.

      Phones with a plastic layer that you touch instead of the glass itself is a resistive, pressure-sensitive technology. Stylus/fingernail will work on these. Most phones don’t have these, though one of my friends had one that did.

      Touchscreen vending machines, like Coke machines or Target advertisements, are sound-sensitive. They listen for the sound of something hitting the glass, then compare that sound to a database of sounds. “Slap” technology, if you will. Nice hard touch gets it to register.

    4. Specktre says:

      I can’t even stand the touch pads on laptops, I’m terrible with them. I’d much rather have a mouse.

      EDIT: Oh yeah, and fingerprints… really OCD about that…

  2. LadyTL says:

    I miss your thing about stuff. Why did it get taken off?

    1. Grag says:

      Agreed. Thing about stuff was a great little feature, but it seriously needed an archive function so I could link people to specific ones when needful.

      1. Henebry says:

        brilliant idea. I would sometimes come across a great one, but then have no way of knowing when it would be back.

        1. Lupis42 says:


          1. Deoxy says:



            1. Irridium says:


              1. Daemian Lucifer says:


                1. Michael says:

                  Homestar Runner jokes are still funny, right?

                  “Make it a seven-er.”

                2. Specktre says:

                  Won’t let me comment on Michael, so eighth’ed.

    2. Chargone says:

      because it was a place holder for the advertising box.
      when actual ads are available, a thing about stuff is not displayed.
      if i remember rightly, anyway.

      1. Hitch says:

        Yes. Like most people I would like a bit more content rather than an ad, but if it helps pay the bills keep the rest of the site around I can certainly see the benefit of losing the “Thing About Stuff.”

  3. Grag says:

    That was my reaction to his commentary. I will point out that he acknowledged the need for a “server in the basement” and I must say that is what has happened to my office setup. Except when I’m actually doing my on-call work, I never set foot in the office or handle my office equipment. I game in the dining room using my laptop. I browse the web using my mobile or my laptop.

    I watch videos on my laptop.

    If I were a more serious gamer, or I did work from home the way you do, I would probably be telling a different story, but I can say that I took apart my computer desk a month ago (leaving the tower of network equipment including the file-share PC) for cleaning and I just haven’t seen the need to re-assemble it.

    So I’m riding the fence here. Most of us are going to agree with Bob on this, but as so many of us do office work, I don’t think the “office computer” is going anywhere. However we don’t game on that. Honest.

    1. krellen says:

      Nope. No gaming on my office computer. No siree. I totally don’t do between 25 and 33% of my gaming from work. That would be totally irresponsible.

    2. psivamp says:

      I realized that at 26, I’m already old-fashioned and becoming anachronistic with respect to tech. I build my own systems and believe that the desktop is the ultimate tool.

      That said, I have an iPod that I find indispensible for time- and task-keeping. But I just can’t imagine it taking over for my laptops and desktop systems.

  4. TehShrike says:

    I actually bought an iPad 2 last week. My first Apple purchase since I bought a first-gen iPod, over a decade ago.

    I’ve managed to transfer most of my casual internetting over to it quite easily. I found a good feed reader, I play Words With Friends obsessively (if you’ve got an iOS or Android device, challenge me!) and I can stream movies and TV shows from my media server.

    My computer is still awesome, and I still think PC gaming is awesome. But the iPad 2 is really light… and thin… and portable… and the battery life is awesome. I imagine I’ll be using it for quite a while.

    1. Heron says:

      I bought an iPad 2 as well, primarily so I can write while crashed on the couch. In my case, the small loss in productivity I take due to typing on the non-ergonomic touchscreen slouched on the couch is far outweighed by the massive gain in productivity I get by not being distracted by all the shiny entertainment on my multi-monitor desktop. That said, I would never try to code on an iPad, even if it had the right tools.

      Speaking of ergonomics, I recently switched to an ergonomic keyboard here at work, and now I’m starting to wish I had one at home. I’ve also started sitting properly (well, relatively speaking) when I’m at a desk… I’m still only 25, but it has helped quite a bit.

      1. psivamp says:

        In high school, my buddy had one of the early HP tablets. Little 75 MHz thing that could barely do anything. He’d edit his code on it even though it couldn’t compile anything.

        Bloody savant. Managed to improve on Huffman encoding in high school while writing a loss-less 32-bit image format — which he managed to get pretty good compression on…

  5. Irridium says:

    But why would I want to go out and buy all those gadgets when my PC can do everything they can do and do them better?

    I suppose doing things “on the go” would be fine for those things, but then again I thought thats what laptops were for.

    1. Rob Conley says:

      Because in some cases, like my Kindle, they are better at doing a thing than the desktop. In this case reading a book. And the Kindle has some nice tradeoffs with a real book, namely I can carry a whole lot of books around with me now and buy them for a cheaper price. After two years with a kindle I would say I do 75% of my leisure reading on the device and the rest books.

      Books and the desktop will remain as they have advantages that the kindle doesn’t.

      1. Avilan says:

        Yeah but those are not the kind of things we are talking about though. It’s like saying the laptop should be better at playing MP3s…

        I have an iPhone. I will get a new phone this year. I use it for four things: Call, Text, Watch movies on the bus and listen to music. I would never dream of actually working on it; it’s not practical for that (no, not the HTC I was thinking about, either).

        Now, my laptop can do these things twice as good or better than any mobile device:
        Show homepages
        File management
        Work (Documents, Worksheets, etc)

        Until they can make a mobile device that is as easy to type on as my laptop, and can play the new games with a mouse and keyboard (the superior way of controlling a game), view excel sheets and download and move around files…
        …No wait they have made one. It’s called a laptop ;)

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Wait,you are actually using your iphone for calls?Wow!

    2. Viktor says:

      It’s a different definition of “On the go” than you’re using. You’re picturing sitting down, pulling out the laptop, and then using it for the next 30 minutes. At that point, the 2-minute setup doesn’t matter much. The advantage of handheld devices is you can pull it out, do something, and put it away in under a minute. You can use it while walking. They’re not for when you’ve got a spare hour to blow, they’re for when you’re waiting in line at Target.

      1. Irridium says:

        I see…

        Still don’t quite “get it” though. Since to me I’d just wait through that minute. But whatever, if it works for others more power to them.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Sure,but imagine this:You have to travel by a bus,every day,for about an hour,to get to and from work,or school.Its not a packed line,but you dont always get to sit down.Its a pretty boring ride most of the time,so listening to some music,watching a short video for laughs,or reading a book can make the time pass more quickly.And having all the three features in one device,that you carry with you anyway for calls,is really nice.Not to mention that the battery life on a cell phone is way longer than on a laptop.

          1. Noumenon says:

            “You have to travel by a bus, every day, for about an hour, to get to and from work, or school.”

            I thought at first there were too many commas in this sentence but it was just that not putting a space after them made the sentence look really,really weird.

        2. Ingvar M says:

          I didn’t, quite, until I used my decidedly smarter-than-necessary phone on the morning commute (train/tube rather than car, as it would be stupid and dangerous faffing about with games/ebooks/stuffs while driving). The ability to go “uh-oh, better check the transport website to see if there’s any issues at my next interchange” with all that is needed being “unlock phone, tap URL, press one or two links” is scarily convenient.

      2. Dev Null says:

        Yeah, I have a device that I use for those 2 minutes waiting in line / walking to the car / etc. Its called a book. And the best thing is, the batteries last forever!

        More seriously though, I see handheld mobile devices used for two main things:

        1) Communication
        2) Entertainment

        So they’re off the hook as far as I’m concerned for serious authoring tasks like writing code or books etc. Of course IMO, they pretty much suck at both of those things, but they do do a lot of things in the same device. When used as a phone they work as well as a phone – but when used for communication in pretty much any other fashion they work less well than they do as a phone. When used to play games they are vastly inferior to a dedicated games machine. When used to watch movies you’re stuck with a 2-inch screen and tinny earpiece sound. For web browsing you have lousy pseudo-keyboard interfaces for input. About the only thing they add is the ability to do these activities on the move – but most of those activities aren’t actually very well suited to being on the move in the first place. Watch a movie on the bus and you’re watching it in 10 minute chunks – I’d rather wait til I get home, put my feet up on the sofa, and make some popcorn. Play a game while walking and your control is hampered by shaking from the movement, and a significant delay if you have to pause the game to look around you and see whats going on. The web browsing is occasionally useful, to look up directions or addresses or whatnot; but almost exclusively while traveling. Seriously, how often do you need to look up an address in your home town / suburb? Likewise the book reader. How often is it useful to have a dozen books on your reader… while waiting in line at Target? Yeah ok granted it’d be awesome on a 3 month trip around the less English-speaking bits of Europe, but most of us don’t get to do that much – around town a paperback is easier and more durable.

        1. lupis42 says:

          But it’s not just about watching, say, a two hour movie. Sometimes it’s a 20minute episode on the bus, sometimes it’s showing your friend a movie trailer while you’re standing in line.

          The web deal is the same – I don’t read any heavy text stuff on the phone, but I look up the phone numbers, hours, and delivery menus for nearby restaurants, find a gas station in a hurry, or just price check an item while I’m in the store with the salescritter there.

          And that’s just mobile phones, tablets are even better at many of those things, and if Asus EEE Transformer is to be believed, someone out there is taking seriously the idea of having a portable device that’s a tablet when you need it to be and can become a laptop when you have a handy lap or table.

        2. Veloxyll says:

          Also, they make smartphones with mini-keyboards these days. So touch screens etc aren’t even an issue. Fatfingered people of the world untie!

          Plus bearing in mind that most guys are not exactly pro-bag, having something that can do everything at a passable level to pass those few short gaps during the day is pretty useful since.

      3. Bryan says:

        Also, the “2-minute setup” can be significantly shortened just by getting a good solid-state drive instead of a hard drive. Most of that “2-minute setup” is from the computer waiting to access the hard drive. I put an 80G SSD in my home (desktop) computer, so I can start working within 30 seconds of power-up.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          It can be shortened even more if you don’t have to boot up in the first place, but that kills your battery.

          On a mobile? Not so much. You can leave your phones on for at least 8 hours at a time without being near a charger, and those are the heavy CPU-use ones. In standby, could easily last two days – without a charger.

          Or more specifically, without having to worry about charging it while you boot it up.

        2. Falcon_47 says:

          *eyes roll* I dont know whats your hardware setup besides that solid-state drive but my 64 bit windows 7 with 3 Gb ram and 2.8GHz i5 with nearly a year of clogged hard drive without any format or defragmet takes that exact same time to fully load. I dont know how he does it but im just happy with it XD….

          1. Simon Buchan says:

            Windows Vista up auto-defrags in the background, now that IO can be prioritised and not slow down your work.
            30 seconds press-power to start working is acheiveable, but depends largely on the BIOS. I have to wait through rougly 30 seconds of the BIOS figuring out “An ATA device is not exist!” before then proudly showing me that it figured out I’m running RAID. Then once windows gets control it boots and is usable in under 10 seconds. *sigh*.

  6. Rob Conley says:

    I think the iPad is a great computing device and slowly saving up to get on. I love my 3rd generation Kindle as well. But here at work I develop CAD-CAM software for metal cutting machines (just up I-79 from you incidentally). The mobile stuff is useful for collecting data from around the shop but for the inputting of parts and managing the cutting table it is the good old desktop.

    Computing is diversifying, at one time you had just the Mainframe, then the workstation, then desktop, and so on. The mainframe didn’t go away it continued to so the job that it was best at, sitting quietly in the IT room downstairs. The people making Adventure and Spacewar went to the desktop.

    Now we are seeing the same thing with highly mobile computing devices. Which are proving very useful for the things they are good at and for things that were done solely on desktops and consoles. And we are just discovering all the things that they can do.

  7. Gale says:

    (And don't bother arguing this point if you're under 25. You have no idea. Wait until you're in your 30″²s, and then try typing for a few hours while you're hunched over. See how quickly you learn to stop doing it.)

    Speaking as a decidedly under-25 year old with a mild penchant for writing, I can quite confidently say that if I’m putting down words, on screen or on paper, sitting at a desk is the only way to do it. You can make do with a laptop on your knees, but certainly not for long.

    1. Dovius says:

      I second this.
      I can’t even really understand why anyone would try to type for a few hours on a touch screen or smartphone because either the screen is wonky and keeps choosing the wrong letters or the keys are just SO DAMN TINY!
      Might be because I have ham fingers, but what is today’s obsession with tiny keys on phones?

      1. Heron says:

        I agree that smartphone touchscreens are far too small for writing, but tablet touchscreens aren’t bad. Not as good as physical keyboards, sure, but at least in my case, actual typing speed/accuracy isn’t the limiting factor in how fast I write.

      2. Alexander The 1st says:

        Auto-correction is a reliant tool they really don’t need to rely on…if the keys were better.

  8. Mark says:

    Mobility = ubiquity, but you’re right: mobile devices are designed to be used Out In The World for those quick bored/ADHD moments. A dedicated setup is for dedicated activity, be it work or play. You can’t get immersed in a world as easily through a 4-inch screen.

  9. Atarlost says:

    I don’t know how Movie Bob can not consider laptop PCs. They run PC software no PC operating systems using shrunken PC input devices.

    And laptops can’t go away until we have either MMI or voice recognition advanced enough to reliably pick up the user in a crowded restaurant. And AI smart enough to tell whether the user is talking to the waiter or it. The usably sized keyboard is just too important to give up.

    And PC gaming will die only when the PC is well and truly dead. As long as there are people who value the acclaim and sense of accomplishment of self publishing software more than the time it takes to write it some of them will be writing games. For the PC. Because that’s where the compilers are.

    1. Grag says:

      He actually mentioned notebooks as something that was here to stay. More the death of the “big chunk of the room with a computer in it”.

      1. Fnord says:

        Most people consider laptops to fall in the catagory of “PC” rather than “mobile device”.

        Which sort of makes his point rather less revolutionary. PCs are dying, except for the ones that aren’t. It also rather undercuts his point about gaming.

  10. Hal says:

    Ugh, am I the only one who isn’t inured with mobile devices?

    Yes, I get the benefits of all of this. But sometimes I actually enjoy being disconnected from that great big always on network. I don’t want to check my Facebook account whenever I have 30 seconds to spare. I don’t want to be able to check Google anytime I can’t immediately answer a question. I don’t want it because the times when I’m not staring at a screen are becoming fewer and further between, and sometimes it just feels good to disconnect!

    An example of this: A while back, Blizzard introduced the Mobile Auction House, allowing people to manage their auctions while not playing the game. That’s a nice idea and all, but definitely not for me. At some point, I have to be able to stop playing the game.

    1. Irridium says:

      Agreed. As I said, I don’t really “get” the whole fixation on being connected to everything all the time.

      Its nice not having to worry about all that stuff. Not that I even worry about it all while “connected”, but still.

      1. krellen says:

        Some people thrive on being constantly connected, updated, inundated and stimulated. Well, a lot of people, actually.

        I’m not one of them, but I can at least understand why it appeals to them.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I too dont like being connected all the time,yet thats not the only group that is using mobile devices a lot.There is a group of frequent travelers,and we dont like wasting half an hour(or more)every day just watching bunch of vehicles,passengers and buildings while twiddling our thumbs.

      2. Volatar says:

        For me its not the constant updating and connection with the internet. Its mostly the attraction of having Wikipedia and the like at my fingertips at any time in any place.

    2. Deoxy says:

      I got a cell phone through work a bit over 2 years ago, now (they supply it so they can reach me). Work doesn’t really call all that often, but my wife… yeah. All. The. Time.

      I miss NOT having a cell phone several times a week.

      (Yes, I love my wife, ok? It’s just a bit…. constant.)

    3. Kyte says:

      I’ve got a dinky dumbphone, without even internet access. (Technically, there is, but I’m not gonna pay for a data plan)
      It’s still my central hub for note-taking (ever had an awesome idea in the middle of the commute? Yeah, you scramble for a notebook, phone, whatever), reminders and alarms. If I had internet access, I can bet my right hand I’d be using it to check such things as my schedule, upcoming test dates, whatever printouts I forgot to actually print and random fact-checking through wikipedia.
      In the end, it’s not about being connected (IMO), it’s about quick’n’easy access to information you might need to store/retrieve at a moment’s notice.

      1. Jarenth says:

        I too work this way. My (otherwise uninteresting) phone’s alarm and note-taking functions have saved me from missing more appointments than I can remember.

        Because I’m very absent-minded, you see.

  11. Bryan says:

    I have an iphone, but it’s not for work. I’ve found it to be handy for jobs such as…

    Looking for the correct address/driving directions while in the car.
    Playing a quick game of backgammon. (Relieving boredom while in line.)
    Listening to music, or my stress reduction CD. (Converted to MP3.)
    It’s a phone.

    I also have a voice-recognition app to take in-game notes. The iphone screen is too small for editing notes, and the “keyboard” is too small for extended typing. I can send the notes to my e-mail and edit them at home. IF I can get another game together, it should come in handy.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “It's a phone.”

      Im still amazed that iphones have actually become phones.Its such a revolution for the company.

      1. Newbie says:

        Did they release a phone app?

  12. Ben says:

    I think Shamus that you are overstating the relative power of smart phones vs. netbooks because of the setting. I know my netbook has a bout 30 seconds between setup and take down (when I know I’m going to be using it on and off close lid just turns off the screen) and requires me to be sitting down and at PAX these were huge disadvantages. However when thinking about my daily life I have a hard time coming up with that much of the time where those disadvantages apply.

    How often on a daily basis do you get into a scenario when you are standing up and will need to be moving within less then 90 seconds? The only time I can think of is when you are waiting in line, something that while quite common at PAX is not high on my daily list of things to do.

    I’m not saying smart phones are useless (my next phone will likely be on) but the advantages they offer in usability are not as profound as you suggest.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “How often on a daily basis do you get into a scenario when you are standing up and will need to be moving within less then 90 seconds?”

      What about standing in a bus or train?For some people this is frequent.

    2. Tizzy says:

      For someone who grew up during the age of the personal computer (early 80’s), the amount of computing power in those little things is simply mind-boggling. But the other tour-de-force of these devices is that they’re even usable at all! Sure, you don’t want to type a novel on one, but the number of things you CAN do on a tiny object like this… I really had to see it (own one) to believe it.

      And yes, I’m in the group of people whose lifestyle is not really revolving around small computing devices. But oh boy, if I’d had that in my early 20’s….

  13. ccesarano says:

    For the most part, I agree that a proper workstation is required for certain things. I just think that work station will change to a point we still don’t need the tower. Even if you need a server, does it REALLY need to be so huge?

    Every device being made seems to have the Internet these days. I got my mom a Blu-Ray player for Christmas and that sucker can run Netflix on it. When I think of the possibilities of a truly networked home, my vision of work is:

    – Walk in room holding tablet PC, sit on couch.
    – Open up Photoshop file or Word document.
    – Press button, and that document is sent to your TV with a wireless connection to the home network that is synced with all your home network devices.
    – Use the tablet as a WACOM drawing tablet or a touch-screen keyboard.

    Plug some local storage onto the tablet PC and you can take that to work with you. Work from home, work from the office, doesn’t matter.

    Then again, I’m a believer in Cloud Computing being the future and the era of personal ownership coming to an end in the next century. People won’t buy things anymore, they’ll subscribe. Pay $20/month to connect to the Internet and use Adobe’s Creative Suite right off their server! To those that say “No such thing could ever happen!” I only point to the rising popularity of Netflix Instant.

    What MovieBob leaves unsaid is that consoles are going to be pretty obsolete in the next decade or two (or century) as well. David Jaffe just said the next generation of consoles will be the last, but in truth I think us gamers are way too involved in the tech world to actually judge. Nonetheless, Cloud Computing will eventually take off, our grand-children (or great-grand-children) will look at us like weirdos for wasting space on all those silly DVD’s and CD’s and such, and Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony will have to change their strategies.

    On another note: I’m so glad I got a smart phone in January. PAX East was the first time I used Twitter on my phone, and it was a valuable record keeping tool for when my memory got fuzzy. It also allowed me to spend a lot of time checking this site and Gamers With Jobs on the train ride home. It certainly is capable of making full-length posts on forums, but it is certainly not ideal.

    Hopefully next time I’ll have an eeePC since my 17″ laptop is like some monstrous Kaiju in terms of portability (seriously, I’ve tried doing events with that thing. It’s better left in the hotel room and accessed at the end of the night, right when you’re groggy with sleep and everything you write is crap).

    1. krellen says:

      Cloud Computing will take off right up until the first cyber-terrorism attack takes out a major data centre and dozens of companies lose years of data. Then it will fizzle and die as companies realise that the network isn’t as secure and reliable as they have been led to believe.

      1. ccesarano says:

        I’ve thought about this too, but admittedly not at length.

        At the very least, I see people having personal servers, perhaps even built into your home like a circuit breaker. Open the wall panel, press some buttons, etc. In fact, now that I think about it, that sounds like a great idea. A server for every home that can just be upgraded if need be.

        1. Sumanai says:

          Haven’t there been talks about “server in every home” for years now? I think I first heard about it in 2001 or something. Has yet to happen, and I suspect it’s because it’s not worth it. Much better to just have a laptop or a mini-ITX computer with a display (or possibility to connect to a HDTV) for “powerusing” or whatever. Just use Dropbox or something for file transfers between smartphones/etc.

    2. Tizzy says:

      I’m curious to see how convenience and the ownership urge battle it out for the soul of the 21st-century man…

  14. Aelyn says:

    First off, a confession: I sell Microsoft business apps. Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP, to be precise. I’ve owned a business doing this for over 11 years now. That said…

    What we’ve got going on right now is a change in form factor. This is the same sort of change that drove Microsoft to the top of the ladder and buried IBM. The computer world changed from mainframes to PCs. Microsoft saw it and embraced it. IBM bet on mainframes. IBM lost.

    Today, we’re going through another change in form factor. You’re moving from the PC to small, mobile (sometimes), ubiquitous devices. The PC will not survive in its current form. Just as mainframes have survived and have niche uses, PCs will as well. However, the battle right now is on the UI front. In order for this to really turn the corner, these small devices have to be able to interact with humans more easily. As noted above, thumb typing won’t get it. I saw an article yesterday with a touchscreen embedded in the kitchen counter. Won’t work – my wife will not hunch over the counter to watch videos or pull up a recipe. But the idea is on track.

    The PC’s interface has to change as well. Already you see laptops and desktops shipping with a touchscreen interface. How do you make a good, intuitive touch-based UI for a desktop? I have no clue. But it’s got to be answered.

    It will happen. You’re already voice dialing your phone. You’re already interacting with your console via movement. There is refinement of these interfaces needed, but the core is there. It’ll bleed more and more into the PC.

    Microsoft is so far behind in this field. They have no viable tablet. The jury is out on their phone. Sure, Kinect has worked out well but that kind of integration does not appear to be as difficult as getting the UI right. Microsoft seems to be betting on their server business and office apps to carry the day.

    Funny, seems IBM made a similar bet some 30 years ago…

    1. Deoxy says:

      From a comic I saw a few years ago:

      Dad: “So, what do you want to do when you grow up, son?”
      Son: “I want to found the next Microsoft!”
      Dad: “Sorry, son – Microsoft is in the business of keeping that from happening.”

      Microsoft got to the top of the heap through a) an amazingly lucky break, followed by b) a short burst of hard work, followed by c) amazingly effective business practices (notice that I didn’t say they were ethical or legal – in many cases, by their own after-the-fact admission, they weren’t either).

      CREATING the best solution to things was part of that short step in the middle. Since then, if they have the “best” product, it is almost exclusively from buying it from someone.

      The “next Microsoft” will most likely be bought out by Microsoft and have Microsoft’s name glued onto it.

      1. silver says:

        Maybe, but as Aelyn pointed out in the second paragraph, everyone would have said the same thing you just said about Microsoft about IBM in the 70s. They were wrong.

        Microsoft has probably already bought some would-be “next Microsofts” and absorbed their unique technological attributes into the collective, but eventually they’ll guess wrong – they’ll be too busy buying up competition in the notebook or console or pad or thing-after-that markets and miss some great hardware revolution while some jerk with the software for the next great hardware fad will pop up as huge. And Microsoft will continue to exist for decades after this happens, just as IBM still exists 30 years past their use-by date. And, as with IBM, they won’t even notice they’ve been replaced for 10 years. Eventually, these things too will pass. It’s as inevitable as the Earth’s rotation bringing the sun into view again.

        1. SteveDJ says:

          I wonder if Apple’s iPhone platform, and Google’s Droid platform, were somehow working together (instead of against each other), might that be the start of whatever might overtake Microsoft…?

        2. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Microsoft has a lot of different routes. They’ve been competitive in the console market at times. And they’re dominant in PCs and office software.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        Arguably, they’ve *already* missed a couple of boats. They don’t own Facebook – their networking thingie is a crappy hopeless copy. They don’t own YouTube or best search engine, or nowadays even the “go to” e-mail service. That’s Google. People still like Google, but they’re becoming arguably more important than Microsoft for a lot of people.
        One day, Google will buy Sun or something, and Android/OpenOffice/whatever will start to replace Windows/Office/etc. I can easily imagine that sort of move.

  15. Sekundaari says:

    “Or whatever you've got to keep gravity from having its way with the thing.”

    Ah yes, my hideous mass of pure chaos, in which things seem to disappear, possibly to resurface months, even years later.

    Also known as my desk.

  16. Jokerman says:

    I have only just started to use a laptop, only last month i got my first one. Got rid of the whole near office i had before. I do still have a desk though, when im gonna do a lot of writing i put it on the table and use as if i would a PC.

    1. Falcon_47 says:

      I also have a laptop, but my problem is the opposite, i use it about 10 % of the time (the rest goes to that BIG, UGLY, METALLY TOWER that is my desk PC). It’s not because the laptop is weak or anything it’s actually as good as the PC, but i can only use while outside the house on work or others. for some reason laptop=work and PC=fun, so thats the only way i can do things. Who knows maybe the PC grew onto me and now i cant think what would my life be without it (main reason i cant understand ppl like you who dismantle their PC’s, still thats my opinion >_<).

      1. Gravebound says:

        I’m the same with my laptop and PC.

        But I think it’s because I carefully handpicked every part in my PC to be effective, cheap and still play nice together. So my PC is rock-solid and reliable, whereas my laptop (a mishmash of generic Chinese junk assembled to be cost effective for the manufacturer) crashes way too often (it recently started blue-screening when watching Flash videos…but only on the internet, not from the disk), and sometimes the disk drive won’t read burned disks that my PC (and my $60 DVD player) will read.

        Until there is way to (cheaply) customize the entirety of a laptop (I really want a better motherboard and keyboard) I don’t see them ever replacing my desktop.

        1. Gravebound says:

          …and some of those ‘disks’ should be ‘discs’. What the hell was I thinking?

  17. ima420r says:

    I love my droid phone and don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner. I can check emails, use GPS, use the intrawebs, take notes, play Angry Birds and so much more. It’s a phone too, though you wouldn’t know it with how little I talk on it. I love being connected all the time, of having the option to be. I can even use it to teather other devices to the intrawebs, so if I want to play my NDS online I can access the web though my phone.

    It will never replace my desktop, but in a few generations it might. They already have laser keyboards where it projects a keyboard onto a surface and works like a regular keyboard. And the touch screens eliminate the need for a mouse. You can even use voice recognition software (already on most devices) to dictate notes, stories, text messages and writtings of all kinds!

    I want one of those phones that plug into the screen/keyboard like a laptop. That will be the next step, and they already have projection devices for phones, some built in.

    Computers are ever changing and evolving, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

  18. Atle says:

    I have two stationary PCs (work + home), an ultra portable laptop and an HTC Desire. My stationary PCs are were I produce stuff. The laptop is the all rounder that I use everywhere. The Desire is great for reading news when I’m on the go, and it’s not practical to bring the ultra portable, but I hate typing anything on it. It’s 100% consummation and telephone.

    1. Deoxy says:

      That would be “consumption” – “consummation” would be something… a bit different.

      At least, I very, very, VERY much hope you meant “consumption”. Heh.

  19. Johan says:

    I have to say same here. I simply don’t use the mobile devices at the current time. My cell phone has never been used for texting, tiny screen size makes an iPhone a huge turnoff for me, and an iPad and Kindle are really no easier to pop out than a notebook or a laptop. I’ve also tried gaming on a laptop and it’s almost always become self-inflicted torture. You just don’t realize how good you have it with a full mouse and keyboard until you lose it:

    Laptops without mice have terrible… let’s call it “dexterity” (this becomes annoying with any game)
    Laptops without mice still get hot and even BURNING to the touch
    Any sort of “shortened” or miniaturized keyboard, laptop iPhone or what have you is just not conductive for me to be writing or playing with.

    Also I’d like to add that I really don’t see any format in which a mobile is superior to a netbook except, ya know, waiting in line. On the go it’s still no good (try actually texting and walking anywhere, I’ve pulled several friends out of the street while they did this), maybe sitting on the train, but in any other setting I’d much prefer a netbook.

    1. Fnord says:

      So carry a mouse, too. It’s not that much more to carry. You need a larger flat surface to use it, but you can always go back to the touchpad if there isn’t one available. Bob also mentions motion controllers negating the advantage of mice; perhaps they could eventually be used by laptops as well.

      I’ve never noticed my laptops getting hot provided they’re properly ventilated (and if they’re not ventilated, personal discomfort is not your only problem).

  20. RTBones says:

    For me, I find myself usually swearing at most mobile devices at some point because I want the complete functionality of my PC in the palm of my hand (or on my lap – you get the idea). Yes, they can be handy – for specific tasks. Looking up a train or bus schedule or a map on my Blackberry is VERY convenient. But I am not going to surf the web on in, at least not for very long. I typically use what pieces of mobile kit I have to get a specific task done (like looking up a map, or a schedule). I use my netbook on the road because its light, portable, and has a tactile KEYBOARD. I also get most of the functionality of a full-grown PC. When I’m traveling, I’ll use my iPod touch to watch the odd movie or TV show – and yes, even play a game or two. But I am not going to spend hours on it at home. The kindle? I personally prefer a real book. Console? No thanks, I prefer a keyboard and mouse.

    Thing is – most mobile devices are designed for convenience. There is ALWAYS a trade-off. iPads are nice, but there is no keyboard, and no slot for an SD card. You cant store data on it without extra software. the iPod is handy, but has the same limitations and is small. The netbook is nice, but there isnt a CD/DVD drive with it, and its slower than the PC. The trade-off you make with a PC? Its big. It sits in a corner. Wouldnt have it any other way.

    If I’m home, and I’m doing “something” computer related, it will almost always be on my PC. When I’m mobile, I’ll use my mobile devices.

  21. Zukhramm says:

    I don’t really understand the point. Having a separate machine for writing, for gaming and for everything else just seems like an excuse to force more hardware than I need on me.

    I’m not saying there’s no need for separate or smaller devices, but to what extent? “It’s a PC, but with a more controlled OS”, he says about consoles, and that’s my problem with them. I like my control.

    Is PC gaming dying? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem that way to me, but if it is dying, I’m not sure I’ll be that much interested in games anymore.

  22. RichVR says:

    For a long time I refused to consider an iPhone. My wife had a 3GS and while I liked it, my HTC TILT running Win 6 mobile was fine. It was like having a small computer in my pocket. I got to be really fast at typing with a stylus. She finally just bought me an iPhone 4 32GB for my birthday. It’s been a little more than a month now and I am just blown away by the amazingness that is the iPhone. The display is crystal clear. The multitouch screen is smooth as glass to use. I watch Netflix on it in bed without bothering the wife. The GPS is better than the Tom Tom that she has in the car. The camera is 5 megapixels and the video is superb. I have about ten different photography apps including a couple that let me edit video on the phone!

    Yeah I also have a ton of games. Including a MMORPG called Pocket Legends and a graphic roguelike called Fargoal.

    I have apps to make music like Bebot and Mixtikl. 2 drawing apps. hell, I could go on for pages.


    I’m a convert. But I still love my PC.

  23. Mumbles says:

    Is this a bad time to admit I do all my gaming on a laptop?

    1. Deoxy says:

      In terms of computing capabilities, laptops are just PCs with a premium pricetag for smaller parts. Games-wise, they are interchangeable. (Peripherals ARE recommended for gaming, though – touchpad instead of mouse? YUCK. I tried it for a while – it sucks.)

      1. Mumbles says:

        Yeah honestly this monster plays games just fine. I just don’t have as much space. Not like I’d use it for anything since Steam saves all my games for me and I can stream por-

        er look at cat videos on the internet when I’m bored.

        1. Dante says:

          Porn is no longer something we must watch in dark corners away from all the eyes of the world. Embrace it for what it is!

        2. Richard says:

          You stream Portal? What’s wrong with that?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Portal porn?That sexy companion cube can go pretty deep in and out of those colourful holes.

    2. RTBones says:

      Why would it be bad? These days, you can actually buy a decent rig in laptop form. What you pay for is the fact that its smaller and therefore portable. Drives are getting smaller and smaller, and video cards are getting better and better. Its a _little_ harder to upgrade, if thats your bag (my inner geek demands I build my own machines unless its a laptop or other portable device), but can still be done.

      I do hope, though, you use a mouse when you game.

      1. Mumbles says:

        Oh yess I use a mouse. I can’t imagine gaming without one. Actually, all my roommates are WoW heads and they use touchpads. It’s WEIRD.

        I’ve had mine for two years and it’s in pretty much awesome condition. I usually get a new computer every four-five years so by then I’ll want a new video card anyway.

        1. Hitch says:

          I can just imagine telling some WoW elitist going on about “keyboard turners” that you use a touchpad instead of a mouse. Their brain would explode.

    3. X2-Eliah says:

      Not at all. I’m gaming on laptops for more than 2 years now, no problem. Got two of ’em now, and the new one could give any desktop a good competition.

      Okay, so 17 and 18.4 inches aren’t really laptops for laps, but still a good alternative to towers and wire messes.

    4. Jarenth says:

      I do about half my gaming on my laptop, usually. It’s incredibly convenient to be able to walk over to a friend and just set up shop there without having to get a ride and disassemble my entire desk setup. It’s also great for playing video games when I’m supposed to be working, studying or paying attention.

      A decent gaming laptop can be quite the investment, but I’ve never had any regrets.

      EDIT: Even if it does emit so much heat that everyone sitting to my left becomes visible uncomfortable after thirty minutes or so.

      1. Sekundaari says:

        And by visibly uncomfortable people you mean !!people!!, right?

        1. Jarenth says:

          I’m not sure what that’s a reference to, but I do that a friend once grabbed a glass that was standing next to my laptop and recoiled in visible pain.

          1. Sekundaari says:

            Have some new knowledge, then.

            That does sound like a monster of a laptop. On the plus side, I guess you don’t need some silly, expensive USB-thingy (I’m guessing it exists) to keep your beverage of choice warm.

            1. Jarenth says:

              An item or creature is either on fire, or not.

              So very true.

              1. Sekundaari says:

                Agreed. The simple things in life…

                Do read the “A typical example” -section if you didn’t already. The D for Dwarf -bits are often glorious. Like articles called “Unfortunate accident”, in both versions.

                1. Jarenth says:

                  I just love the idea of dwarves not really caring if they catch on fire.

                  Doop de doop, just doing ma dwarven job, doop de doop. Hmm, what’s this? I appear to have come aflame. How odd. Well, them’s the breaks. Time to go carry around some incredibly flammable things. Doop de doop.

                2. Sekundaari says:

                  Now that you mention it, I’m reminded of a certain SW episode here. (Season 2, episode 5. Pure awesome.) Maybe the dwarves are just seeing a faint, orange reflection.

  24. Topaz Wolf says:

    I think that, while miniaturization will always continue marching forward, we as a society will finally realize that just because you can fit an entire encyclopedia series on a flash drive with a half inch screen to read it, by no means should we. Miniaturization is great, don’t get me wrong, but quite a number of people prefer ergonomics to mobility. We would rather have a large screen computer with a luxurious chair so we can work more efficiently, rather than more conveniently.

    Perhaps one day we can even quite trying to pretend that just because something is adorably small, doesn’t mean that it is better than its bigger counterpart. =D

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      I’d prefer for us not to notice that – that way, hard drives of current size that hold about the same amount of data go down in price as they lose demand from same size hard drives that store more data.

      Can you imagine buying a 40 MB Hard drive these days? They’ve got to be dirt cheap.

      1. Hitch says:

        The problem would probably be finding one and making it work with a modern system. I doubt it would be cheaper than a 300GB drive you find anywhere.

    2. Veloxyll says:

      Why would we put it on a flash drive when we can just grab the bits we want off the net whenever we please

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Except for when the internet is down, in a university town (Where the nearby Linksys router is the only one on the block?)?

        Trust me on this – not a good experience. I only got through that because of the Disk games I had on my PS3, and even then, barely.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          Why a university town would have less routers I do not know, mine’s right here besiddes me, but I do agree that there is and probably always will be plenty of times were local storage is superior.

  25. Neil Polenske says:

    Well he comes of as someone who has a different view of mobile devices than I do. To be fair I know very little about them, though I suspect he doesn’t either.

    Either way, there seems to be two really big issues he’s ignoring:

    1) Digital Distribution. Don’t know what the console scene is since my PS3 (of which I’ve only ever bought two games and two blu rays) isn’t connected, but I gather that it’s basically small indie titles and old 16-bit ‘n prior console games…small files in other words. Full AAA games available to download…do the consoles do that? Do the consoles have a Steam?

    To be fair though that’s transferable. In other words, they don’t have it because they don’t WANT it, not because they CAN’T.

    2) Workstation. Pretty much what Shamus said. Bob doesn’t seem to realize that for people who’s jobs revolve around what happens on a PC, a PC workstation is the only real option. I have two towers at the moment, one of which is connected to the internet and with which I game and play movies ‘n puruse the internet and type this message. I can admittedly live without it and all the stuph on it. The OTHER tower has no internet connection and is used purely for my computer animation, video processing and other work related things. I lose IT, and I’m without means to support myself. I don’t think that’s going to change, though I got nothing to back it up aside from my own personal opinion.

  26. Entropy says:

    “PC Gaming: Happily Dying since 1985”

    1. Gravebound says:

      “PC Gaming: Happily Being Destroyed by Greedy Publishers Who Want Everyone to Buy Consoles Where All the Money Is…since…I dunno’, 2000?

  27. ngthagg says:

    I bought one of these a month ago, and it’s my first experience owning a computer smaller than my desktop. It works really well for some things and not so well for others.

    It’s better for reading, in pretty much every situation, from standing in a line to long sessions in bed at night. It’s smaller, lighter, doesn’t give my hand cramps, easier to turn pages, stores multiple books (I often have more than one on the go), and I have it with me whether or not I anticipate needing a book.

    It’s very effective as a hub for all my communications. Phone calls, texting, facebook (and e-mail if I set it up) are all very closely linked. For the people who prefer to not be connected all the time, that’s simply a matter of controlling usage. I keep my ringer (and vibrate) turned off, because I want to decide when to check incoming communications.

    Internet browsing is lousy, because websites are just not designed for that small of a screen. But working through specific apps (ie, a facebook app rather than is much better. And these apps are becoming more common. For sites I visit more than once a day, the phone is superior. I still read blogs like this one in one sitting at my desktop.

    So far, games have a minimal presence on my phone. I have a few casual games available, but even they don’t get much use. I’d rather read. I have yet to find any games of larger scope that interest me. But certainly, the games I play on my PC would not work on the phone.

  28. Foota says:

    I stopped paying heed the moment he said he needed IE

    1. rayen says:

      IE is becoming a catch-all for an internet browser. stop being such close minded purist. it’s not like firefox is greatest thing ever created. His argument is not invalid because he doesn’t share your love for burning rodents.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “it's not like firefox is greatest thing ever created.”

        Of course its not.Because opera is.

        1. Amarsir says:

          It was for a decade. Opera’s tab stacking (which cannot be disabled) is really starting to annoy me though.

          1. Zukhramm says:

            Huh, I can’t find a way to turn it on…

        2. poiumty says:

          What was that? I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome my addons are.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:


            What tab stacking that cannot be disabled?


            You mean the addons that get copied from opera when it gets new ones?Yes,those really were awesome when they were fresh.

            1. Entropy says:


              That is all.

              1. HeroOfHyla says:

                Chrome updates and then tells me after the fact.
                That bugs me.

            2. poiumty says:

              No, actually i just mean NoScript.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                You mean that thing that was built into opera from version 9,or before(site preferences>enable java)?Yes,opera doesnt have that many addons as firefox.But thats probably because you get them all with the browser itself and dont need to install them separately.

                1. Fnord says:

                  Opera, Firefox, or Chrome. They all have their proponents.

                  As long as you don’t use IE.

                2. poiumty says:

                  So what you’re saying is that Opera copied a Firefox addon and integrated it into its basic options.

                  I see. What were you saying before…?

                  besides, does Opera even allow for selective domain restrictions? Because if it’s all one checkerbox like you’re saying, then it doesn’t exactly mimic the functionality of noscript.

                3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  I dont know who copied what,but I do know that two times a friend of mine installed new versions of firefox,it had functions that I was using in opera for moths before that.

                  As for restrictions,there are both global and local ones you can control.

            3. Amarsir says:

              Tab stacking comes with I think version 11? If you’re still on Opera 10 you wouldn’t have it yet. It means when you drag one tab over another they “stack” so you need a drop-down to get the one you want. I can see how some might like it, but with many tabs it triggers accidentally and can’t be shut off.

              Opera’s always been innovative. Stuff that’s built-in there gets turned into a Firefox plug in 1-2 years later and built into IE 2-3 years after that. For example, Opera had tabs in 2000 when I picked it up. Firefox got them around 2003 and IE 2005. If you don’t care about first adapter (and as I suggest with the stacking, it’s not all good) then the takeaway is that Opera has built-in what Firefox gets addons for. That means it runs heavier, mail, rss, script blocking, ad blocking, centreally stored bookmarks, media library sharing, torrents … all are built in to Opera from the first download.

              Chrome is more about running clean, and I have nothing bad to say about it. Frankly, anything that doesn’t rhyme with “IE6” is a fine browser to me.

  29. krellen says:

    Funny thing; every time our miniaturisation catches up with current tech to allow smaller machines, current tech takes a leap forward, making the miniature tech obsolete. You can stay at the bleeding edge while miniature, but it costs at least four times as much, which keeps it out of the hands of the masses.

    Simply put, we’re still in a realm, and have been in this realm for decades, so I see no reason to believe it’s going to change any time soon, where desktop PCs have higher capability for lower price than anything available in the mobile market. If you want the best computing for the best price, you’re still getting a desktop PC.

    1. Rosseloh says:

      Yup. I still have a hard time even fathoming that there are “gaming” laptops out there. My current one is two years old and supposedly an “entertainment” model, designed for games and movies. But it chokes even on games from 2004.

      Then again, I’m quite willing to ride this wave of “all about mobility” if it means that, a year after a new high-end desktop part is released, I can get it for half the original price, consistently.

  30. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Having a mobile computer is quite nice when you are going somewhere.Ive grown quite used to reading books and listening to music on my cell phone whenever I travel somewhere,or wait in lines,plus it saved me numerous times when I quickly needed to look something on the web and my pc was unavailable.

    However,there is one huge thing that my home computer has in its favor.And that is two things.My huge monitor,and my 5.1 speakers.So,I guess its actually 7 things….Anyway,that experience wont be replaced by mobile devices for a very,very long time.Its fun having a phone that has a camera with a huge number of pixels,but watching it on a screen thats over 30 times smaller than the one on my home pc is just a waste.

    By the way,that whole “takes a few minutes to set up”,check this link:
    One of the perks it offers is instant booting.Still has a few years before it becomes wide spread though.

  31. Rosseloh says:

    It’s probably a comment on how I really need to get back in shape that I’m under 25 and I know what you mean.

    As for mobile devices…..I want one. I really do, just so I can look something up at whim. Fortunately, the most recent Kindle I’ve seen does exactly what I want…store and read books, as well as free 3g so I can hit wikipedia if I need to know something. For everything else, I have my desktop and laptop.

  32. Khizan says:

    The comparisons I see here with the Kindle and the iPad/iPhone aren’t that accurate, honestly.

    I’m not a mobile device person at all. I don’t want a smartphone because I spend enough time online as it is now and I don’t need to be wired in whenever I leave the house. But I do have a Kindle, and I love my Kindle, because my Kindle is a book.

    It’s an awesome book. I never have to hold the pages open, I can read it in one hand and turn pages without having to set it down or use my other hand, I never have to worry about a bookmark, and I can carry around every book in any given series without having to lug around 5000 pages worth of weight. It’s not backlit, so it’s incredibly easy on the eyes, and in most respects it’s just like reading a book.

    Nobody can really contact me through it, and while I get the free 3G with it, using it as a browser is horrible for anything outside of the most basic fact checking and information retrieval, so it’s not like it puts me in that “always connected to everybody” thing that smartphones do. It’s just a really nice book.

  33. Michael says:

    And even at that, I’m a total Luddite compared to Shamus!

    I have no phone; nay, no secondary computing device at all. Unless you count a GameBoy. Not even a DS, but a legitimate GameBoy, from Ye Olden Dayes when they were still being called that. DS, pshaw.

    Although the iDevices are shiny and all, the touchscreen irks me in the same way that it vexes Mari.

    That being said, I’m also a hermit and abhor contact with real, physical people. As concepts, people are fascinating, but that’s getting off topic. What I meant to imply was that I don’t need more than one interface, as I don’t interact (or need to interact, wants aside) as often as others would.

    (Hip, connected, on-the-go youngster, huh? On-the-go: possibly. The other two are absurd.)

    EDIT: That remark about the iDevices could really use some context. I can understand why people with bratwà¼rste for fingers have trouble with it. Large surface area touches at once, and the device can’t reconcile which place ought to provide feedback. This, in addition to the large sausage-like appendage that is in the way because you are poking your monitor, makes the user unsure of what their input is actually going to do or did.

    I, on the other hand, have very long, slender fingers. I don’t have the above problem, but the device still doesn’t like me. I have yet to figure out why.

    Also, in a similar situation to Mari, my brother has absolutely no problem with it. He even plays games on it!

  34. Amarsir says:

    I’m on board with all the new-fangled devices, but the compulsion to put one’s life out there on Facebook is one I simply do not understand. I thus have the option to connect from anywhere, but not the desire.

  35. Lord_Bryon says:

    For myself I have never understud why smaller = better. Sure small devices are nice to quickly check email or Facebook, but if I want to do any serious computing I’m going to turn to my PC (which so happens to be a laptop) The touch devices are nice for consuming content, but not do so hot at producing it, and even if it dose get better I can’t image the headach it would be to try and do any sort of coding with speech recondition. Shamus I’m under 25 and agree whole heartedly that there are some things you just need a desk and keyboard for.

  36. nawyria says:

    Also computer simulations and any sort of work that requires a processor to crunch amazing amounts of numbers and then feeds it back to you. You can’t very well interpret the results of a 1000 x 1000 position Ising model on a mobile phone, nor would you wait the hours it takes to calculate the 20 million steps it takes to compute its evolution. For the forseeable future, there will always be (professiona) niches in the use of personal computers that people prefer to do the “desktop” setup. The fact that palm-sized notepads eventually became available doesn’t mean that all writers will simply stop using regular sized paper for their manuscripts.

    1. Fnord says:

      Numerical work that once required room-sized mainframes is now done on desktop workstations.

      Presumably there will continue to be a niche of sorts for microcomputers, just as there is still a niche for mainframes. But that doesn’t mean portable devices won’t be powerful enough to do what’s now considered serious technical work.

  37. Ham08 says:

    The tech enthusiasts and desktop PC gamers that upgrade constantly are what drive the computing world and make Moore’s Law a reality. The blunt truth is all about Economics. Do console kiddies buy a new console every 6 months? Do iPad users buy a new iPad every 6 months? Without the steady technological advancements made possible by these enthusiasts, computers (all computers) would still be far too expensive for the public and many of these devices would never have been invented or mass produced. Until these mobile computing platforms, including phones and laptops, etc., and even mobile and non-mobile gaming consoles, are made in such a way as to allow an enthusiast to upgrade everything or build from scratch, the desktop computer will never die. Consoles can never compare to PC gaming, not even on release day of a next generation offering because they are not meant to upgrade and the next console model doesn’t come out until years later. Consoles are not even in the same league as a desktop PC built for gaming from the ground up. If you want performance and presentation that will blow your socks off, you want a custom built, state of the art, desktop PC and you can obtain one on the cheap if you build it yourself.

    Indeed, without the tech enthusiasts and PC gamers that upgrade constantly, the computing world would screech to a halt, or at best, be reduced to a slow crawl. This is the undeniable economics of the computing world. The guy in the video is naive if he believes otherwise, but more than that, he sounds like a moron spouting idiotic comments of technology that he knows nothing about. If all he really wanted to say is that the PC tower will get smaller, then that’s different, but that is not the way he presented his argument. My reaction to his presentation is that he really just wanted to start something with people that are far smarter than he is, because the just of his argument and accompanying animations were very insulting, to say the least. Maybe his staggering stupidity is a guise for his true intentions of getting more webpage hits, views of his video, and resulting flame wars. He’s a troll.

  38. Wolfwood says:

    Im looking for a smartphone like device or tablet that has internet connectivity through 3G/4G connection that doesn’t come with a phone plan or require a usb modem. You know just paying for mobile internet on the device.

    Anyone know of one? plan? brand?

    1. Strangeite says:

      The iPad 2. Both the Verizon and AT&T models allow you to turn on data on a month to month basis without a contract.

      1. Wolfwood says:

        did some research and i found the Motorola Xoom more appealing. cost the same as an ipad2 as well. (i watch a lot of streams and anime.) Android Based tablet is win for my needs. Being able to use flash without “jailbreaking” or “Rooting” is nice ^-^

        But thanks for answering no less :D

  39. AndyL says:

    Just ONE big monitor?

    You’re not REALLY computing until you’ve got one screen for your code and another screen for your documentation, headers, reference material etc.

    1. Robyrt says:

      That’s why they make big monitors. I can easily fit code and docs on the same screen at 1920×1200. The biggest advantage to the dual-monitor setup is for applications designed to be expanded to full screen – VMs, NetMeeting, etc.

  40. Strangeite says:

    I have scanned the comments but I haven’t seen discussed what I have discovered about mobile devices.

    I am 32, no wait, 34 (damn) and I find myself using my mobile devices more and more.

    First and foremost, the flexibility they provide is phenomenal. I have a 3 year old iPhone and just yesterday I was able to use GPS for directions, process a customer’s credit card, update my database, record the meeting and have it emailed to both myself and the customer and make minor changes to a contract. All while sitting in a car which was parked in the middle of an empty field. On a 3 year old phone.

    Yes, my laptop could have done all of these things, but not as easily or as smoothly. The functionality packed into such a small package is amazing.

    The second thing I have noticed is that I do small tasks that I would never have gotten around to on my desktop. For example, say I take a picture of my kids and want to send it to the grandparents. It is easy as pie to take the picture, crop it so that the kids are framed properly, adjust the contrast and email it out. If I waited until I got back home or transferred it to the laptop, I never would have taken the time or trouble to crop and adjust the photo.

    I just ordered a iPad 2 acouple of days ago. I plan on testing it out and seeing if it will work better for my employees. I think it will. I am a concert promoter, which means that we are checking camping sites, selling tickets, etc. The ability to process credit cards, update spreadsheets, etc. on a device that is easy to use while you are walking around will be very handy.

    I can understand why some people have no use for mobile devices, but from my perspective, they appear to be the future. I am using them now more than I use my “traditional” computers. And I don’t think I am alone.

  41. Jansolo says:

    I realized the same a couple of years ago.

    I had an android device (HTC G1) and now I’m writting this with my iPhone4 at the bus stop.

    I’m a professional Java developer, so I love my computerS too.

    Furthermore, I recintly bought a Mac Book Pro, so besides my computer and my laptop (both running Windows) and my old pentium IV (which is running Ubuntu) I am discovering a new world computer world.

    It has been a good expirience to let these new technologies in my live.

  42. Bubble181 says:

    Workwise, there’s plenty of reasons why the desktop pc will live long yet…
    Also – I don’t have the dexterity to type correctly on a touchpad keyboard for more than 2 words. I need to feel what keys I press…I use 10 fingers, but I can’t for the life of me type on a keyboard where the keys aren’t separate. I hate iPad-type on-screen-touch-keyboard-replacement thingies for that reason.

    Anyway, I do practically all of my gaming on a laptop, but it’s a 17.4″ screen, full keyboard including numerical, thing, with mouse, with external DVD-burner, etc etc. It’s really a desktop replacement – I regularly play on 2 places, and one decent laptop is cheaper to maintain than two desktop pcs :-P

  43. Zak McKracken says:

    I agree on “workplaces will still stay with the PC”. Mostly because my workplace is doing that, and will for the foreseeable future. Hell, it moved from having a console for the mainframe to a proper local workstation not long ago, and I can’t imagine there ever being a computer on my desk that’s so powerful I will think it’s “enough”.
    I also agree that being able to do things “mobile” is a nice thing. But I can’t keep wondering how much money people are willing to invest to be able to do that. I’ve got nice cabled DSL and GB Ethernet at home, and I would’nt want spend more than that on a wireless network that’s not even half as fast and a potential security hole. I wouldn’t dream of buying a cellphone with an internet connection that will cost me ten times what I pay now! I think lots of people are just not aware of what things actually cost because it’s hidden away somewhere in the monthly fee or whatnot. I think lots of marketing models are just refined schemes to keep your attention away from the actual price you pay for stuff.
    => PCs are a way of achieving lots of tasks for much less money. The more money you’re willing to spend, and the more precious your time is, the higher the usefulness of using a mobile device for the same task, but I think most people just want to impress other people with their gadgets (does that actually work on anyone? I remember peeple sending each other text messages, sitting back to back, for 50p each, just because it’s so cool).
    Consequence for me: Others have two consoles, a DVD player, a TV, a video recorder of some sorts, a satellite receiver and all the remotes associated with it in their living room. I have one PC, one high-res monitor and one projector. I agree that setting that up was more work, and specialized devices probably work with slightly less hassle, but then a PC has advantages when it comes to recording, storing and organizing video and audio, working on and displaying photos… all in one place, no need for each device to talk to each other, because there’s just one.

    And the last reason why my only mobile device is a cellphone capable of voice transmission and texting (and nothing else): If you have one tablet, one eeePC, one smartphone and one E-Reader: Where the heck are you storing all your stuff? Either you don’t have much of it, or you have a PC at home anyway, or it’s “on the net”, which in my view is about the unsafest place to put your data. I deeply distrust any company trying to convince me to pay lots of money for a device that does part of what my PC does, only smaller, for more money, and everything I do goes through some company’s servers.

    Last last reason: I hate it when people get some smartphone out in the middle of a conversation, look something up, send someone something. Show some completely useless app aroundd … If the conversation was boring before, it’s not improving things, and if it’s meant to impress anyone … well, no. These gadgets are mostly just really really expensive distractions made to shorten your attention span.

    Shamus: I didn’t mind at all that your posts from PAX came less frequent than other people’s might have. I mean, one post a day is quite alright for this blog, and you could do that in the evening, from the hotel. Or after the whole thing, after you got home. I think the less frequent you post stuff, the more you’ll get to enjoy what you’re actually doing in between posting. I think the less fragmented communication is, the more useful it gets.

    Maybe that’s why my posts here are always so long…?

    EDIT: Damn, that was epic. I apologize for not taking the time to shorten the post now. This does not help my own argument :(

  44. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Kind of tied in to the death of pc gaming,Shamus did you check out firefall at pax?A pc exclusive free to play multyplayer shooter.

  45. MrWhales says:

    You have a point Shamus. But I think that much of what i do on my one and only desktop, could also be performed on a capable laptop. And if a Kindle had a way to type documents, and had Flash, or what have you. Then I could just use one of those.. sure I’d miss some of my games on my PC, but most of those can be played on a much much less powerful computer/laptop.

  46. Ateius says:

    I just can’t understand how MovieBob thinks he’s making a good point.

    “The traditional PC will die, because you can buy a dozen smaller devices that each perform a few different functions which, put together, do everything the PC does!”

    … yeah, that’s great, Bob. That’s also going to cost me about twelve times as much as just having the PC, and be a million times less convenient.

    Do I use a smartphone? Absolutely I do. It’s great for on the go. I can browse the ‘net on the bus, listen to music, keep in contact with people, whatever. Does that mean my smartphone is replacing my PC? Absolutely not. My PC was never meant to be used on the go and never will be. The smartphone is filling a different function.

    You know what I do when I get home? I put down the smartphone and get out my laptop, because it is far more convenient. It does everything I need and it’s much easier to use than the small touch-screen.

    Admittedly, I don’t use my desktop tower much anymore. In fact, I only maintain it for gaming. My laptop has superceded the tower for all other computer-related use. However, contrary to what Bob tries to claim, my laptop is still a PC, just one I can move around the house (and take to campus). So he’s still wrong.

    Oh, and he earns my scorn for using such a provocative title to talk about a topic that is only tangentially related to it.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      I think he used the title on purpose just to evoke the reaction that you (and I, too) just had.
      After cooling down, though, something occurred to me: Why am I so emotional about it? Why do I actually get angry if people say they don’t need a PC because these six different gadgets combined fulfill the same purpose?
      1. Because it’s not quite true. Those six gadgets cost as much as 3 PCs, and they’re less comfortable to use at home. That’s my point of view. But in the end it comes down to whether you value being mobile above being able to do stuff in the most efficient way
      2. Because I feel left alone. Everything used to be about the PC, and I am a PC user. Now I’m being told I’m no longer at the center of attention. Considering I’m not really a “mainstream” guy, I should not be worried, but less attention for the PC means that more software (including games, but not only) is made for different devices and then ported to the PC, if I’m lucky. Many games, including ME II, really really look like console games. Just look at how the Boss fights go. These guys move like Mario Bosses, not like AI-driven enemies. Several games which I had been looking forward to a lot turned out to be soooo uncomfortable and clumsy for someone using keyboard and mouse, because they’re designed for a console controller. Much new web-stuff functionality, is available for mobile devices, and only later is made available for PCs, sometimes not half as user-friendly as the original. And I think they could do it better on a PC, but the market demand is elsewhere, so they don’t. Which makes me sad, which makes me want to tell people to come back to the PC already because it is infinitely better, and that makes me go all preachy and not very likeable.

      Sorry guys.

      … but I’m still right!

  47. MaxDZ8 says:

    Bob just nailed it. For non-creative work, full size PC is overkill and thus does not provide benefit.
    Now, simple market economics will decide if PC “lives” or not. I am already seeing the price of desktops spike around here so the average user will natively shift away from desktops as they are perceived “just as powerful” as their portable counterparts.

    So far, I am not going to prepackaged systems for their consistent failure on providing decent hardware combinations (4x the CPU power I need coupled with 1/4 of the graphics I need). The day the limiting factor will be “good enough” I might even switch to – say – Tegra 5 or whatever – and have proper connections set up my environment. Given my budget constraints, I don’t see this happening in the next 3-4 years for sure.

    Creative work will likely stay on desktop for a while (especially high end). I agree. But I’m frankly scared the cost involved could soon go out of control.

  48. Nick says:

    I’m 32 and would love to have a small computer in my pocket, probably in smartphone form, but ATM I cannot find any decent ones.

    iPhone: Needs iTunes to work, Apple keeps tight control over everything to do with it.

    Android: Needs Google ID to use most of the applications.

    Symbian: This is what I currently use (Nokia E63), but I only purchased it as a stop-gap until I could find a decent full feature smartphone. That was two years ago. :(

    Palm Pre: I don’t think it’s available in Australia.

    I still use my Palm Tungsten 2 PDA because no smartphone can replace it.

    MeeGo looks promising

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