My five-year-old laptop (would I kid about this?) is due to be replaced soon, so it has me thinking about old and new machines. My first (personal, not work) computer was, believe it or not, a laptop. It was an Apple Powerbook 145 I received as part of the Apple Library’s “Network Citizen Award” back in the early 1990s. Sometime after that I gave a series of presentations to Apple Computer, Inc. staff about the Internet and eventually worked off the cost of an Apple desktop setup.
Meanwhile, I had a desktop for work. Thus, like most professionals I found myself keeping my current files on various removable storage media. First 3.5″ disks, then Syquest disks, and eventually Zip disks. Trying to keep everything in sync was a huge hassle, and that was only if I had remembered to put the files on the disk in the first place.
I eventually realized I could only have one computer in my life and that’s when I made the final break from a desktop. What I carried back and forth to work, then, was the computer itself.
But as I await my new laptop it occurs to me that pad devices are potentially giving desktop machines a new lease on life. First, I find myself going to staff meetings with my iPad, not my laptop. At conferences I no longer lug my laptop around, but my iPad.
Cloud storage of files makes it trivial to have your documents available to all devices — even your smartphone. And if I want complete control of my laptop or desktop from my iPad, there are products like Splashtop that do it for you.
So oddly enough, I feel like desktop machines are an even better option now then they were even just a few years ago. Between cloud services and storage and the new pad devices, desktops and a pad can be a very good combination. I’m still not giving up my laptop, but I no longer think that a desktop is an anchor. Rather, it can be a very good solution if you need more power and storage than a laptop provides and you have the access and portability that a pad device provides.