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Is the desktop computer going the way of the dodo bird?

        Tech | Desktops

Other Threats to Desktop Computers
The Sony Vaio VAIO Lifestyle PC VG-P50-series computer, seen here at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, is a full-function PC with an 8-inch screen.
The Sony Vaio VAIO Lifestyle PC VG-P50-series computer, seen here at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, is a full-function PC with an 8-inch screen.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Though it may seem strange to compare them to desktop computers, or even laptops, smartphones are gaining popularity as mobile computing devices. At first, they were viewed as the ultimate gadgets. Recently, though, higher-powered processors and a robust network of developers creating applications for the devices has made smartphones explode in popularity.

Keyboard and screen sizes are considerably smaller than you'd see on laptop or netbook computers. Storage space is also less for smartphones than for computers. But smartphones are becoming more like computers when it comes to working online. A recent survey of small businesses, conducted by virtual file server company Egnyte, revealed some interesting trends in smartphone usage. It found that 25 percent of respondents prefer conducting business on their smartphones rather than their PCs [source: McCracken]. Even more telling, close to three-quarters of those surveyed felt accessing data through a file server would increase productivity. This trend clearly reveals the popularity of the smartphone and shows just how far the technology has come.

Cloud computing is something that also has the potential to shake up the PC market. The theory behind cloud computing is that the Internet would, in essence, replace your computer's hard drive. In other words, all you would need is a small computer with just the basics. A display and keyboard would be necessary but you wouldn't need much else. This would cut down on the cost of portable computers even more. A desktop cloud computer would also be an option. Again, it could be made inexpensively.

Apple's MacBook Air seems to have been made for cloud computing. The Air has no optical drive or traditional serial ports you typically see on notebooks. It's slim, sleek and meant to be carried around as if it were part of your everyday ensemble. It's expensive, though ($1,499), which goes against the trend of cheaper cloud computing devices.

Perhaps the best way to look at this quandary is that each type of computer serves its purpose. Each has its upside. Each has its limitations. It depends ultimately on the user. For example, a graphic artist who works in a studio, a computer with a fast processor and tons of memory connected to a large, bright display is preferable. When you go computer shopping and compare machines that meet those needs, a desktop will come out less expensive every time. However, if you're looking for a computer to handle basic productivity tasks and you're on the road quite often, maybe a netbook is in your future. It all comes down to choosing the best machine to satisfy your wants and needs.

To learn more about these computing concepts and to read related technology articles, don't forget to take a look at the links on the next page.