Desktops & Laptops vs Tablets & Smartphones

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Desktops & Laptops Vs. Tablets & Smartphones

You may have been aware of the recent trend towards computer technology that continues to get smaller.  Computers aren’t just machines to adorn our desks, but handheld, portable, and connected devices, that might not have even been conceived 30 years ago.  But as the technology grows so must we that we might develop and learn about newer and better ideas.


In our modern world as technology continues to shrink, in some cases the power is growing, while the device size diminishes.  But if we look back some 40 years we can see the advent of our current tech.  Thanks to IBM and those who attempted to copy them, was born the personal computer.  Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates helped to revolutionize this simple idea into a world-wide phenomena.

Computers were not the first equipped with a keyboard that someone might want to be portable.  Typewriters had long been portable and so computers would quickly follow.  Although the portable aspects of what because laptops was poor at best, they were still effectively portable.  Portable in the same sense as a clothing trunk or a suitcase.

In the 1990s Microsoft attempted to bring out a line of laptops that doubled as the earliest form of tablet.  Unfortunately the price was a bit high and the idea did not catch on.  However, in the mid 2000’s and after many attempts from companies Palm and Sony, the idea of a hand-sized portable computer had developed. This lead to the release of the iPod and eventually the iPhone.

As of the last 4 years the iPhone was flattened into a tablet and this technology has proven itself to be quite useful.

The old guard

I spent several years from the late 1990s until the mid 2000s building and learning about desktop computers.  I believe that I built personally and professionally over 500 desktop computers.  It was a passion of mine to work on these machines.  I felt that it was vital part, not only of my work, but of life in general.

Desktop and laptop computers still play an important part in our productive and leisurely lives. But they are rather large.  It is of course possible to get smaller versions of these same old devices, and the technology is changing still.  As an example, Microsoft’s Windows version 8 is an attempt to bridge the gap between desktops, laptops, and tablets.  As I write this post, there is an advertising campaign on, that is sponsored by Microsoft to ask the question, “Can a tablet replace your laptop / desktop?”

The new craze

In fact, tablets did come first, but in the more recent sense.  Apple managed to create the market for the tablet from the popularity of the iPhone.  But the this opened the floodgates for the advent of the Android operating system.  Android made its debut nearly 18 months after the iPhone and has dominated the world market owing to the fact that it is free to use.

Thankfully, tablets and smartphones like those made by Apple and manufacturers who use the Android operating system, are actually capable of handling many of the task that a traditional computer might.   In the earliest stages  you might not have seen a movie or played a game on these smaller devices.  But now it is the new craze.

Just last night I saw a girl of possibly 6 years, wielding her own iPad mini.  And in many restaurants I have seen parents use the tablet as a tool to keep children occupied.   Fortunately, tablets go far beyond mere entertainment.


I have long used a large laptop as my primary computer at home.  I use it because it is easily as powerful as many desktops and I can still carry it with me.  I do however, use the laptop as a desktop replacement, meaning that it sits atop my desk and connects to everything else.  It rarely leaves the desk because I have other devices to handle the tasks where portability is required.

Tablets tend to find use in the handiness of a small screen in the palm of your hand.  But the added benefit is that the keyboard and mouse functions normally use in input and control, are on-screen features with tablets.  Thus, as Microsoft has demonstrated in the last 3 years, it is quite possible to use  tablet rather than a laptop or desktop, via their television ads.


In the 1990s, many companies had developed an assortment of tablets and personal digital assistants (PDAs).  These devices were the predecessors of the smartphone.  But what made the smartphone truly great was its connectivity.

I still own several PDAs from the late 1980’s and 1990’s and the one thing I miss most is the internet access.  Connectivity expands the possibilities by at least 10 times.  What was once a personal digital assistant, becomes a global communications device.  Most connected devices are not connected in the sense that desktops and laptops tended to be, that is with a physical connection like a cable.  These new devices are connected via WiFi, bluetooth, and mobile frequencies.


There’s no denying it, we have new and better ways to interact and utilize our newfound information devices.  They surround us daily and handle nearly every mundane task with little complaint.  But it is key that we maintain the old ideas until they are no further use.  We’ve not seen the last of desktops and laptops, but the new future is only beginning.

As always, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me via my email account and be sure to check out the Glossary for the new terms from this and every article.

Have a wonderful week


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