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Latest Smack-down: Desktop versus Laptop

Latest Smack-down: Desktop versus Laptop

I have been a devoted desktop PC user since the days before I used PC’s and owned my first computer a Commodore 64.

I always believed that the Desktop PC was better in terms of form, functionality, performance and value for money.

Furthermore, I am a PC user who likes the fact that you can easily upgrade a Desktop in the box and not have to tag on too many dongles and external devices. It has always seemed to me that in terms of personal choice and customization I could always walk into a PC store (after doing my research on hardware that fit my needs) and hand the technician a shopping list of the brands and parts I wanted. This was a lot harder to do with a laptop.

However, over the past few years laptops have become lighter, battery life has become longer and the variety of models can leave a prospective buyer a little spoilt for choice.

Again I maintain that my buying philosophy is simple: –

  1. Have a budget for how much you can spend on a new computer.
  2. Decide what you need the computer to do (surf the web, travel with you, mass storage, productivity, etc.)
  3. What OS do you need? (Do you really need the latest and greatest or will something older do? Does it need to be Windows? Gasp, did I really just write that? There are situations where a Linux OS might suit your pocket better)
  4. Are you or other users on your PC going to have very RAM or CPU intensive applications running? e.g. Games or CAD applications.
  5. Personal preference: AMD vs Intel, generic vs brand name or simply a brand you have good experience with in terms of quality, price and support.

All of this applies equally to Laptops or Desktops but really the key question is do you really need a laptop?

Laptops are mobile computers designed for travel and portability but they can also be space-savers in the home.

Recently, we have had several visitors, family staying over in our spare room which is also my office space. My desktop PC sits atop an Ikea computer desk (itself a compromise due to limited space) with a 19″ LG monitor, speakers, mouse, keyboard, Cable modem, Wifi router, PDA cradle and printer/scanner. Obviously, whilst our family are inhabiting the room my access to the PC was curtailed.

Last week a family member came to stay for three weeks and I decided to move the PC into our bedroom (this being the best of all compromises) where we have a cable outlet should we ever want a TV in there. After unplugging all the spaghetti and lugging everything in and then reconnecting it all I saw I had more natural light during the day and felt my productivity go up. The only minus was that come my wife’s bedtime I had to shut down so the fan noise, screen glare and my keyboard hammering don’t keep her up.

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am a real night-owl and by habit do my best work between 10pm and 2am so for me this was a problem adjusting my internal clock. Luckily or unluckily my little boy decided to develop that raspy nighttime cough everyone seems to have right now so I am busy with him and not on the PC anyway.

All this combined with the drop in laptop prices has made me think twice about if I can work harmoniously on a laptop.

Of course, my printer and the other peripherals will still need a place to call home and I will probably want to trade the CRT monitor for a flat-screen so will I really solve anything this way? When I make this leap I’ll let you know.

 
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