By Chris Messenger | Published 20/09/2012
Tower PC: Slightly misleading name for a PC that operates via separate parts as opposed to an all-inclusive model. A ‘Tower PC’ typically has a monitor, a computer, a keyboard and a mouse, as well as other optional peripherals like a webcam or speakers attached.
Tablet PC: A mobile computer designed to mimic and hybridize the best functions of both a Smart Phone and a laptop computer. Tablets have enjoyed popularity as the biggest selling consumer electronics product of the last year or so.
I have it on good authority that video killed the radio star, if that is so; does an emergent technology always herald the downfall of its immediate forebear?
There were those who ditched their record players and vinyl albums with the advent of the cassette tape. Then those same people ditched their cassettes upon the arrival of the CD just a couple of years later. Now, many of them have sold on their entire music collections for a third time in order to buy it all over again in MP3 format. Indeed, right now, as you read this, there are people chucking out their DVDs in favour of Blu Ray just a few years after getting rid of their entire VHS collections.
The point? In this world, there will always be people who uncontrollably yearn to own the hottest new thing, regardless of how much they actually need it.
Sometimes it seems that the market for gadgets and consumer technology is guided not by any form of high-minded macroeconomics, but by the grubby machinations of Mr. Toad, the restless, aristocratic antihero of Kenneth Grahame’s sublime kids book ‘The Wind In The Willows’.
This is not to say that buying a Tablet PC makes you a toad. If that’s what you’re getting from this piece, please allow me to reassure you that it is not the case.
The vinyl record player, or turntable, never actually went away. Treasured by music fans, nostalgia freaks and collectors; the record player is also the absolute backbone of Hip Hop music and the many divergent forms of dance culture. DJs are bigger than ever and the best of them swear by vinyl as a format. You may not own one, but cassette tapes, CDs, or even MP3 certainly didn’t kill the turntable.
It is irrefutable, however, that some technology has been effectively ‘wiped out’ by better models. Imagine yourself trying to access the Internet via an old version of MS DOS, or make a phone call with an early 90’s ‘brick’ mobile phone and you’ll take the point.
The central question here, then, is could you make a case for unplugging your Tower PC set up in favour of a Tablet PC?
A Tablet is smaller than your Desktop as well as being quieter, much more advanced and, crucially, all-inclusive. In addition, you’d have the ability to unplug the computer and take it out with you to meetings, conferences or spend sunny afternoons in the park with it. The Tablet is small, sleek and sexy and in turn, makes you look professional, successful and hip. It could even make you more attractive to the superficial, gold digging section of the opposite sex, if that’s what you’re after.
...But could all this work? Could one illustrious consumer actually pull off this masterstroke of streamline consumption? Could he/she buy a Tablet and replace their Tower PC, with all its space hungry, virus catching, desktop cluttering, dust attracting irritation, thus embarking on a free and easy life of pocket-sized Tablet triumphs?
The short answer is, no. No they could not.
Tablet PCs are a great innovation, but they lack memory, meaning that you couldn’t store all of your information on them. All of your photos, music, videos and writing would simply have to sit on an external hard drive, gathering virtual dust. It would be hard to access and even harder to edit. In addition, many Tablets lack a decent amount of ports (some even lack a USB), which would make data pretty difficult to upload, especially considering the fact that you simply won’t have memory space to upload very much at all.
Tablet PCs are also very easy to lose, to steal and far more likely to be damaged beyond all repair than your home PC due to their mobile nature. Think about how many mobile phones you’ve been through in the last five years and gasp.
A Tablet PC is great for checking your emails, correspondence or Facebook whilst on the move. It is great for killing time with the Internet or a few rounds of ‘Angry Birds’, but it can’t, as yet, offer any kind of replacement for the sheer amount of tasks you require from your Desktop PC.
As wonderful as the Tablet PC is and, as likely as it is that the future descendents of the Tablet PC will reach the point where they can act as desktop computers (which will have its own set of problems when you leave it on the bus or drop it, to prove a stupid point, whilst drunk), that day is not now.
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