Topic: My next computer

Time has come for me to buy a new computer. I have happily used desktops for a few decades, with a laptop and netbook just as backup 'toys.' Same with a tablet now. But my last desktop drowned in hurricane Sandy.

I don’t know if there's any point in getting a new desktop, though something about me still likes having a designated spot for a computer, hooked up to good speakers and other peripherals.

I also just got my first smart tv, not even hooked up yet, and wonder if things like that will replace the big monitors I always enjoyed.

Just curious what Chumbyites think about the future of the desktop, and what your personal preferences are.

Re: My next computer

Interesting question!

I really think it depends on what you do with your computer. If you rip music and edit videos, or need a central server, a desktop is in order. It only gets smaller from there on personal needs.

I just bought an "android on a stick" computer to play with. It is about the size of a flash drive, Android 4.1, dual core 1.6 GHZ processor, ouputs HDMI and has built in wireless with USB connectivity all for only $45.00. Add wireless keyboard/mouse combo and ready to go! They even have ones with bluetooth and camera!

Hook this bad boy up to the tv and I have a 70" tablet. WoooHoo!

Re: My next computer

I understand your feeling about having a place for a desktop. I have a fairly new desktop at my office after having a laptop for a while. I am much more comfortable with the desktop for business use and have a laptop for home and fun use. Desktops seem to have the ability to add hardware and the like. Laptops have the portability and many of the newest ones are packed with internal power. It really is what you are good with. I am probably "old school" and lean to liking desktops although I love having the laptop too. Big help huh.

Owner of 3 Sony Dash, 2 Info 8.

Re: My next computer

Laptop with a docking station where you use a regular keyboard and monitor gets you a little closer to "best of both worlds".  So many people use a docking station as just a way to plug in and charge their laptop.  Instead, have it off to the side, or under something and use a regular keyboard/monitor when at home for comfort, and you have the option of portability by un-docking it.

Linux Guy - Occasional Chumby Hacker

Re: My next computer

While I have and use laptops, I still prefer desktops. There is nothing like a properly set up workstation with an ergonomic keyboard, quality mouse, big display, comfortable chair, nice speakers, etc. Desktops are more upgradable and easier to fix too. They just stink at the portability factor. Glad I don't have to choose one or the other.

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.

Re: My next computer

While I use my iBook G4 for lightweight web browsing (like this forum post) and (non-HD) video editing, at the same time my desktop is running ArchiveTeam warrior to archive closing webpages, and Folding@home to find a cure for Alzheimer's, and it still plays games with pretty good framerates. And my Chumby's playing Groove Salad in the meantime. Pretty much, I'm a multi-device kind of guy. However, a desktop's useful for me to have for playing games, seeding linux torrents, and word processing (my cheap printer doesn't have a PowerPC driver). While I do agree that having a nice chair, good speakers, and a good keyboard helps, my ten-year old PS/2 Dell keyboard (procured for free from a college who was going to throw it out), an IBM PS/2 mouse of the same vintage, a 1280x1024 CRT monitor with built in speakers (from the same college, as well as a result of my preference for 4:3 displays), and an old swivel chair from GoodWill get the job done. However, the computer's pretty good (for 2008 standards when it was built anyway), running Windows 7 (Don't get me started on 8. Pre-ordered in the midst of the hype, re-installed 7 within hours. This review pretty much sums up what I think of 8, even though I didn't write it), a triple-core 2.4 GHz processor, and four gigabytes of RAM. However, most people now have noticed that they don't need a desktop to watch Family Guy clips and that's why I think we're having this discussion now.

Re: My next computer

I love my laptop and would be lost without it... but my desktop is still my preferred means of computing.  With a 24" monitor (the only reason I don't get a larger one is because my desk's hutch can't accommodate that) I get more screen real estate, having a full-size keyboard is helpful when working in SSH on my servers, and the upgradeability of the desktop is important for me as a gamer.  Another factor to consider is cost: for two equivalent-spec systems, the laptop will always cost more than the desktop.

As far as the larger monitor and keyboard argument goes though, you can always get said peripherals and hook them up to a laptop at a desk, providing you with a desktop experience from laptop hardware.  Then, when you're on the move, just unplug the laptop and take off.

With a laptop, once it starts showing its age hardware-wise, you pretty much have to start considering the purchase of a new laptop... you can give it a small boost by installing an SSD or some extra RAM, but that's about as far as you can take it.  With a desktop, you can add multiple hard drives, the RAM upgrade path is usually much higher, you can add the latest optical drive (such as a blu-ray burner), and even upgrade the video... all piecemeal rather than buying a new computer.  You can even upgrade the processor to a limited degree (unless you bought in at the end of a generation and the next gen uses a different socket).

Of course the entire upgrade argument hinges on how comfortable you are building/upgrading your system.  If you're the sort of person who prefers to just buy your computer, unpack it, plug it in and go, upgrades incur the additional overhead of consulting with tech-savvy friends or a professional to determine your upgrade path, and paying someone else to install it for you.

TL;DR: your mileage may vary; the only two firm arguments for desktop are upgradeability (if you're into that) and price/performance ratio.

Re: My next computer

I've been using Apple laptops exclusively for about 15 years.

At my contracting gig, I have a 24" Apple Cinema Display I used to use at Chumby and bought from the company when it folded.  I also have a 19" monitor at home that I hook up whenever I'm doing heavy development that requires a lot of screen real estate.

The combination of the laptops and large monitors eliminate the bulk of the need for desktop machines.  In fact, I also bought two Apple iMacs from Chumby that the artists used to use, but haven't felt any need to use them myself.

My wife has more or less abandoned her hand-me-down MacBook and uses an iPad 3 almost exclusively - since 99% of what she does is email and browsing, that works for her.

She uses a Chumby for music, of course, mainly Pandora - besides devices I use for development, there are two CCs and one C1 that perform various duties around the house.

Re: My next computer

Thank you all for your input.

Well, my new computer turned out to be a surprise choice. My priority became finding a decent machine with Windows 7. I love the touchscreen on my Playbook tablet, but wouldn't want to lean over a desk to tap it too long. So, I got a traditional laptop. I finally cut the cord from the tower. It's actually a semi-business HP. Certainly not made for photo editing, but a monitor and wireless desktop will be coming along soon. I got the best of both worlds with the OS. Win 7 Pro 64 is installed, with full OEM DVDs of that plus Win 8.

Win 7 will also run my old Office 2003, and give me time to translate all my life history from Outlook to open formats. I already uploaded almost 10 years of my calendars to Zoho. It's not perfect but it's a good start. The thousands of emails will take a bit more effort.

I still wonder about what's going to happen with touch screens in the next year or so. I think what we have now will probably seem as innovative but basic as Apple's first mouse. Now I have a couple of years to keep clicking pointers and using physical keys. Maybe by then I'll have learned how to cut and paste text using my index finger.

Win 7 will also help me through next year when my two veteran XP computers (laptop and netbook) "age out" of Microsoft support. At least one will become a speedster with Ubuntu. It's kind of lousy that my "last" desktop memory was a Vista machine. But I guess it was poetic justice that my Vista headache was the only machine I lost to hurricane Sandy!

Re: My next computer

Glad you found a solution to your need. Hope all works out well for you. I am not sure a touch interface is the answer to every computer interface need. The keyboard and mouse as input devices are quite good but I am sure at some point they will be replaced or at least undergo a major transformation.

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.

Re: My next computer

BoloMKXXVIII wrote:

I am not sure a touch interface is the answer to every computer interface need. The keyboard and mouse as input devices are quite good but I am sure at some point they will be replaced or at least undergo a major transformation.

Yes, there's ergonomic issues with touch interfaces that are yet to be sorted out. Ideally, for anything other than short bursts of computer activity, you want to keep your arms by your sides with your wrists at elbow height or lower and your head looking straight ahead or slightly down. It's difficult to envisage a touch interface that maintains this posture. Maybe an improved version of a touchpad, perhaps? Even so, there's still the problem that it's much more tiring to hold your arm above a touchpad than it is to lean on a keyboard support or mouse.

Re: My next computer

Perhaps a leap motion controller built into the front part of the arm rests of a chair? You could keep your arms on the arm rests and just wave your hands/fingers in the air in front of the arm rests. Who knows.

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.