In Defense of the Desktop Computer
In recent years, I’ve seen a number of articles decrying the end of the Desktop Computer. They are a relic of a bygone age, and all users should have now is a laptop and maybe, maybe a dock so they can use an external monitor.
I respectfully disagree on a variety of points. While I have several laptops, a couple tablets, a phone, and even a Chromebook at my disposal, by far the most time I spend working is on my two desktop computers. While in a previous phase of my life I was on the road 200-250 days a year, and any gear that didn’t fit behind the seatback in front of me had no place in my world. Once I gave up the hectic travel schedule for a more office-based lifestyle, the overwhelming benefits of having a desktop computer came roaring back.
First, of course, there’s the direct cost. A desktop with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse usually frequently ring up at half of a comparably equipped laptop. A heavily optioned tower will rarely breach the $1,000 mark. Whereas for a heavily optioned Macbook, you’d been looking at nearly $3,000 for the pleasure of squinting at a 15-inch screen.
The ergonomics are where desktops really shine. The biggest single complain I hear from users about their workplaces are screens. Either it is too small, too dim, too close, or won’t let them keep everything they want to see on their screen at the same time. With a desktop, though, adding a few monitors is usually a trivial task, and those monitors are vastly larger than even the largest 17-inch monitor screens. Most office workers spend the vast majority of their day looking directly at their monitors — why would you not make increasing comfort and productivity on those a priority? Even huge, comfortable monitors are only $100-200 a throw. Let users keep their mail on one screen, and their work on another, and don’t have them twitching every time a notification pops up under their mouse.
Is there a place for laptops and tablets? Absolutely. Anybody who gets on a plane more than once a quarter needs it, and that capability is precious. But don’t force your home office to suffer with equipment optimized for travel.