Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, or Phone?

The computing landscape is constantly evolving. Today people everywhere are using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, in ways that were not conceivable just a few years ago. If your computer is aging you may be asking yourself if you should replace it, go to a different type of platform, or both.

We lean toward both. For typical creative work, nothing beats a conventional computer. If you need to spend time working on creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos, reports, bookkeeping files, or other complex objects, it is very difficult or impossible to do such things on a tablet or phone. At best, mobile devices allow you to view such objects or possibly make minor changes.

On the other hand, there are all sorts of great things you can do better on a mobile device than a conventional computer. For example, the ability to read books and magazines, browse the web, check email, and other such activities is quicker, more efficient, and generally more enjoyable on a mobile device with touchscreen. For example, mobile devices are great for checking email on the go, but usually poor for organizing, sorting, or filtering email, or for typing up anything more complex than a sentence or two. An iPad is great for curling up and reading a book, even in total darkness, while this would be difficult, clumsy, or impossible with a conventional computer.

There are many similar examples of pros and cons between mobile and conventional platforms, and this is why we feel that mobile devices complement conventional ones rather than replace them.

What about desktop computers versus laptops? You still get the most bang for your buck from a desktop computer. For a given price, the desktop should give you more speed and capacity and generally will be less costly to repair, upgrade, and maintain. On the other hand desktop computers take up more space and are not at all mobile. If you are thinking of a laptop, you might consider one of the new crop of “ultrabooks” from various manufacturers, which are sleek and powerful, or possibly a Macbook if you can afford the premium price and don’t need to run Windows programs.

As an example, here in our office we use desktop computers for most work and rugged laptops for “field” work. At home, I have a Mac laptop dual booting to Windows, and I have a iPad. 90% of my computing time at home is on the iPad, but more serious work is done on the laptop. I also have an iPhone, but use that primarily for phone, text, and on-the-go email checking. For my aging eyes, it’s too small to use for general browsing, book reading, or video watching, areas where the iPad shines.

Of course, nobody needs all of these goodies. You can get by with a computer only, however in my opinion most people can’t get by with only a tablet or smart phone.