Laptops vs. Desktops: Who Cares, It's All Evolution

from the gamers-and-grandmas dept

Despite the occasional instance of spontaneous combustion, it looks like laptop sales are up 35% this year, while desktop sales are down 5%. Part of the spike can be attributed to higher quality laptop builds and lower prices, but laptop makers are also increasingly targeting people's vanity, as laptops become as much fashion accessory as productivity tool. Increased 3G deployment and the push to integrate 3G networking gear is also making laptops more attractive as true mobility gets easier, making an already flexible platform that much more useful. The traditional power & performance gap between the platforms continues to shrink, and laptops now have plenty of power for most applications. Hardware vendors are thrilled with the shift, since a consumer replaces a laptop on average every three years, compared to every five for a PC. Analysts note the change has left PC vendors catering to "grandmas and gamers", as the middle-ground PC user migrates to a more flexible platform. Of course this will result in a stream of reports claiming the desktop is dead, though a 5% drop in sales hardly qualifies. Getting too caught up in "competing" platforms is pointless, since laptops are simply the next evolutionary step. It's obvious that mainstream customers will move to the smaller, more elegant platform as hardware prices plunge.

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  • identicon
    Pete, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:19pm

    I will ditch my desktop when laptops have better expansion capabilities. While I do enjoy having my laptop, I am already out of expansion options. If manufacturers would treat the laptop as a small form factor pc things would work better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Josh, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:20pm

    When the average Joe can crack open a lap top and change parts as easily as a desktop, then you will see the same thing happen to the computer world as you see happening to the phone world. People are migrating to cell phones and leaving land lines for buisness, more than likely people will use laptops for personal use and leave the desktops to the corporate world. Just my prediction.....1st..err something

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hoeppner, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:21pm

    laptops are nice and all, though unnecessary for the normal user... and when the are they can be provided for you from your employer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:22pm

    why not one of each?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:28pm

    perhaps our aging community is demanding more mobility. im getting a laptop this summer for my internship this summer but was a hardcore desktop gamer previously. i wouldnt call it evolution but id call it growing up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:32pm

    Games on a laptop!??!

    Personally, I hate playing games on laptops. I love them for their mobility but I will always use a desktop for games

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:52pm

    Cheap desktops

    Like others said - its a question of vanity, and in my opinion, also the marketing divisions. The vanity part says "Oh, but its sexier because its a laptop." This is a big part, but I thin bigger is the "Ya, but unlike a desktop, you can take this with you" statement.

    This also helps the OEM company because it means with inherently more expensive laptop parts (compared to desktop parts) the OEM gets to put cheaper, lower-end parts in systems (costing them less) and yet they still get to charge just as much as a $700 bundle with an Athlon 4200x2 at Best Buy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Music Man, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:52pm

    flip a coin

    Its true laptops are gaining more popularity and usefullness, however the highend of laptops is really only comparitive to the midrange of PC hardware. For a power user a PC is the only way to go. If laptops had that kind of brute force then there would be no market for PCs. But luckly most people are willing to give up that extra .4GHz for the 'go anywhere' mobility of a laptop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nivoxz, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:57pm

    About laptops

    When pc vendors start making laptops as flexible as a normal pc i think i will forget my desktop but i still prefer desktops over laptops and i think many agree to this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 13 Dec 2006 @ 6:59pm

    DIYers

    Do they figures include people that build their own machines? Mabye a good proportion of the sales were lost to people building them instead of buying them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Greg, 13 Dec 2006 @ 7:06pm

    You also have technology being utilized more in aspects such as education. College is a big breeding ground for laptop use. Much easier to fit in a dorm room. And then you have free wifi.

    Nearly every student these days has a laptop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MrPaladin, 13 Dec 2006 @ 7:13pm

    Its all about Wifi baby...

    If there were not hotspots or wireless... laptops wouldn't be nearly as favorable as their more powerful desktops for the same price...

    Wifi is exploding thus so are portables...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 13 Dec 2006 @ 7:21pm

    It's just a box

    With docking stations available for most laptops, you can still use a desktop keyboard and monitor while at your desk, or you un-dock and take it to the airport or your couch.

    The desktop PC will likely be non-existent in 5-10 years as most applications will be web-based and run on servers (including MS Office). As hardware becomes more powerful and smaller, there won't be a need for a desktop size case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2006 @ 2:32pm

      Re: It's just a box

      I think it will be a lot longer than that. Today's laptop is significantly more powerful and smaller than yesteryear's desktop, but today's programs require significantly more power as well. Think Vista.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kenneth Smith, 14 Dec 2006 @ 10:24pm

      Re: It's just a box

      Hmmm. I think I know how this works... One box with the software, other boxes with keyboards and displays connected to the box with the software. Mainframes/remote terminals, What a concept! Was good enough for me 30 years ago, should be good enough for everyone else now. ;-}

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2006 @ 7:37pm

    Sorry but desktops will always exist simply because it's impractical to have a laptop dedicated to true computer gaming. We should remember that when people are asked what they use a computer for the second answer is gaming, right behind internet. By no means will a laptop ever replace a desktop in immersive PC gaming. Ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dorpus' Hot Mom, 13 Dec 2006 @ 7:42pm

      Re:

      This is from the school of thought that, eventually, there might be a market for 5-10 computers...worldwide.

      Ridiculous statement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      iT LAN Admin, 13 Dec 2006 @ 8:11pm

      Re:

      Hate to shake ya there bud but I call bullshit. You obviously don't get out in the gaming community at all do you? I'm a LAN Admin and I see several kids that come in with Laptops that are dedicated to stricly gaming. They have the ups n downs just like any other system. All of it is based off of how much people are willing to spend for a gaming rig. I've seen these rigs in operation as well. They are very capable of playing Battlefield 2, F.E.A.R., C.O.D. 2, ect.

      My point is though is you can not say they are impractical. It's a pure crap answer. The only reason I bring my desktops with me is for others to use and a half assed file and game server along side my real one. Otherwise I would put laptop in as my gaming rig.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Maresca, 13 Dec 2006 @ 8:33pm

    Desktop and laptop

    I have both a desktop and a laptop, and have had for the last 15 years.

    The fact is, a desktop is much easier to deal with on a day to day basis. Large drives, bigger screens, more ports, more card slots, etc. I have a 21" widescreen on my desk, can't see even carrying that around, never mind traveling with it.

    I also have a 2.5 lb 10.1" screen laptop with around 10 hours of battery life. I drag it to meetings and when traveling (around 120k miles this year). The laptop syncs with the desktop as soon as I plug it into my network. It's got pretty much every port you'd ever need on the road (including Firewire and SVGA out) and a built in DVD-RW.

    I think that's pretty much the trend. Desktops are great for playing video, games and storing lots of stuff, while laptops are perfect on the go, although my Blackberry does a lot of what my laptop used to do....

    What I don't get is those huge laptops with 17" screens. What's the point? It's the worst of all worlds...

    Chris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Bailey, 13 Dec 2006 @ 8:38pm

    Not dead yet...

    Laptops are ok for some things. And some will be powerful enough to play current games if you want to spend that much. But for the ever increasing level of graphics detail, this year's laptop will just not cut it with next year's games. Small hard drives, slow processors and pretty low end graphics by gaming standards on all but the most expensive laptops are just not making it for me.

    Where a laptop will get the market is the web surfing and word processing people. Especially here in the UK, where ISPs are falling over themselves to offer wireless hubs with their broadband connections. Then its just a quick installation and you have the ability to surf on the toilet if you so desire. Plus, you don't have to clutter up the living room/spare bedroom up with a desktop, monitor, and printer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jimbo, 13 Dec 2006 @ 9:04pm

    Laptop Portability?

    Part of the problem is laptop hardware versus PC hardware. You can get hardcore laptops for gaming...I have one. The problem is that they usually weigh upwards of 8 pounds and the battery life sucks. My solution: Gaming laptop hooked into a 32in monitor for gaming and my Dell 700m with a 12in screen for mobility. My gaming gets 1 hour battery life, my 700m? 6 HOURS! If you can build me a gaming laptop that doesn't weigh a ton and is truly portable, I'm game. Until then, there will be seperate machines for each.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    crt>lcd, 13 Dec 2006 @ 9:26pm

    period

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James Bond, 13 Dec 2006 @ 10:52pm

    Laptops......

    In my opinion are like cell phones.For the most part just flash and be cool.Got to go to seminar and bring my laptop and my cell phone and make useless nothing calls and play games on computer or email my mistress.The corporations in the world got you working at home already for free and now when travelling also.Think....... if there were no portable computers or cell phones you would still have a good job and a life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Memae, 14 Dec 2006 @ 12:06am

    Laptops vs Desktops

    Hey, my desktop is fantastic for for graphics, editing photos and it's large keyboard. my daughters use it for college papers, web paging, etc & its 4 yrs old.

    My lightweight laptop does everything & more plus it accommodates my disability (fibromyalgia) I love it! It's portability allows me to carry it easily from one room to another, upstairs to downstairs. I'm even thinking of going back to work (from home). It's made a difference, I don't think anyone is taking into account all the people out who for various reasons cannot sit in an office chair for long periods of time. And it's also ready for the new Vista platform!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brad Meikle, 14 Dec 2006 @ 2:43am

    Different strokes for diff folks but Desktops will

    By reading these posts you can see the variety of preferences for computing based on what you do - travel, game, whatever... With trends one has to look at the magnitude of the change relative to the existing conditions. In Q4 06 roughly 60-65mil desktops will ship versus 25million notebooks, so the desktop market is more than 2x the notebook market. I think wed all agree that the incremental utility of a notebook is increasing a lot more rapidly than that of a desktop for the following reasons 1) WIFI, EVDO/3G cards 2) due to PMR NB drives at 160-200GB 3) Innovation in notebooks to expand the # of usb ports. 4) cheap monitors - im now on a toshiba nb but am looking at a 26" samsung lcd tv which enables me to run two monitors through a vga cord. The question in my mind is when do notebooks crossover vs desktops and when do desktop units begin to decline y/y.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bumbling old fool, 14 Dec 2006 @ 5:56am

    Shifting mentalities...

    Large form factor PCs are impractical when compared to the alternative.

    The only people left that "prefer" a large form factor desktop as the ones can't afford to migrate to a portable desktop.

    Gamers may think they need a desktop so they can constantly upgrade it... but they dont. Eventually they realize that constant upgrades are the hobby, not the games. Then they will grow up and realize that they want out of the monthy upgrades so they stop playing that stupid game and they buy a portable desktop.

    Here's a secret... Grannies don't want a large form factor either. They only get them cause their grandkids are too cheap to buy them a portable desktop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 14 Dec 2006 @ 5:58am

    They should both exist...for now

    Laptops have the key advantage of mobility.

    Desktops have the key advantage processing power and no dependence on a battery that may fail (and that's not even talking about the explody factor).

    They both have their reasons to exist and until one can absolutely and truly offer everything that the other can it will remain that way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ebrke, 14 Dec 2006 @ 7:29am

    Laptops

    Laptops are ergonomic nightmares. Unless people invest in docking stations and use standard monitors and keyboards when working on laptops for long periods, there's going to be an explosion of repetitive stress injuries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bumbling old fool, 14 Dec 2006 @ 7:44am

      Re: Laptops

      I say the opposite...

      Working on a portable desktop on an average table or desk actually forces people to follow the recomendation for proper ergonomics... It's actually quite better than the typical office setup.

      (and those keyboard trays are NOT good for you, they make everything worse, REGARDLESS of what the corporate regulations require)

      Now if you want to talk about the advantages of the split key keyboards, then you will have my ear. Other than that, the portable desktop is typically better.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sanguine Dream, 14 Dec 2006 @ 7:46am

      Re: Laptops

      Very true. I have a laptop as my everyday work pc and I must use a usb keyboard becuase I can't stand a laptop's own keyboard. They suck and I'd develop carpal tunnel even faster if I used it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tyshaun, 14 Dec 2006 @ 8:14am

    Desktop?

    All of those people who are saying laptops are flash and desktops are for "power user" and "gamers" are a little out of touch.

    First of all, unless you're a techno-geek (granted, most folks here are), the average person can't see a huge difference between a nice laptop screen and the lcd sitting on their desk. Most "gamers" aren't buying the $2000 Dell super machine, they have the atypical $700.00 system (laptop or desktop), which is more than powerful enough.

    Do people, aside from us geeks, even open up their PCs anymore? Honestly, with the huge size of hard drives and memory in most systems today, is there a need for the average person to ever open up a desktop, let alone need that capability in a laptop? I opened up a PC for the first time in years the other day because I needed to install an RS232 card to handle multiple lines for a project I'm working on, but before that haven't had to open a computer in a very long time. Systems are so ubiquitous and cheap that it almost doesn't make sense to "upgrade" hardware versus just buying a new system.

    I work as an embedded developer and I find laptops just as useful as desktops (moreso sometimes because you can take it around and be using it at the bench, then take it over to your desk). I'm not forecasting the total removal of desktops, but the capability "gap" between laptops and desktops is rapidly closing. When we finally figure out a way to have a full size keyboard and screen, and finally get battery life where it should be, then I will predict the true demise of the desktop. Until then my docking station is a fine surrogate for my old desk dust collector.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2006 @ 10:39am

    Desktops won't go away. nor will laptops.

    they both have pros and they both have cons.

    laptops are great for average to low end using on a larger scale, while desktops are great for high end using on a larger scale.

    yes you can get great gaming on a laptop, alienware makes gaming laptops, but that comes at a price. more expensive, more weight, runs hotter....things like that.

    but for everyday web browsing, document writing, excel work...autocad, a laptop works just fine. plus you have the capability of working "anywhere" so long as you're near a power outlet, or have a full charge.

    yes, gamers can get desktops for 700 bucks, but that's still better than the $700 bundle from dell or wherever.

    but i guess it comes down to pratical uses.
    if you are going to be doing most of the compter work at home in the den, a desktop sounds better. if you like to frequent the local coffee shop or park or whatever, a laptop sounds better.

    the whole crap about upgradability:
    the ram and video cards are about the 2 things that MAY need updaged for a new game each year. the processor will be able to handle it. as for HD space? get a ext. HD, they are cheap and well...huge. so...there.

    but as i pointed out....(maybe) it's a matter of usability

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pete, 14 Dec 2006 @ 12:22pm

    Bad keyboard? I would have to disagree, As I am currently typing on a Toshiba Satellite. I prefer typing on this keyboard as to a traditional desktop for one reason. It's easier. On a standard full size keyboard I type around 30 wpm. On this I type 42-45 wpm. Repetitive stress is just that. It will happen if you spend enough time doing any activity, and I don't see it any more on the laptop than the desktop.

    Integration. While it does force the price of hardware lower, it also destroys any expansion capabilites. I have had this computer apart more than once. Mostly for cleaning. With the actual "mother board" section of the mainboard taking up about 1/3, making room for expansion should not be a problem.There is actually empy space in here as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2006 @ 2:50pm

      Re: Bad Keyboard

      Depends on the person I guess. I type much faster on a full size keyboard than a laptop keyboard, partly because the regular keyboard has a separate number pad and partly because I learned to type on a regular keyboard. Typos and spelling errors go up when I use a laptop keyboard because the keys aren't where my fingers expect them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shuvam, 1 Sep 2007 @ 10:08am

    laptop VS Desktop

    i think another place where laptop scores over desktop is that wifi enables it to be played anywhere and online games can also be played oer the net......not only that.the games that come out with extreme graphics...can also be run moderately well on laptops...i am speaking from a lay man's oint of view because i am not so much into graphics...more into strategy ...therefore i feel it depends on what degree of gamers are we looking for.....not only that laptops are expensve and there are many poor countries in the world where pc's are still preferred to laptops....and plus ....games are developing at such a fast rate............that instead of a desktop...one can just have a gaming console for high-end...shit...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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