Ask the Readers: Desktop or Laptop?

By Ashley Jacobs on 5 April 2011 (Updated 12 April 2011) 131 comments
Photo: sneaka

Editor's Note: Congratulations to CgK, @ldelangel, and Steve Sforza for winning this week's contest!

Computers have become a huge part of our day to day lives.  I personally am a huge fan of laptops and cannot imagine life without my laptop. However, there are many people who prefer having a desktop computer as opposed to a laptop.

Do you have a desktop or laptop computer? Or do you have both? Which do you prefer and why?

Tell us whether you have a desktop computer or a laptop and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Enter 1 of 3 Ways:

  • Post your answer in the comments below, or
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry), or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, April 11th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 11th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Bryan

Laptop, all the way. Can take what I need where I need it!

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Pamela

I have a desktop computer (and iMac with a large screen). It's our only media device in the house. We watch movies on it, stream tv via Hulu, and play CDs on iTunes. I wouldn't want to do all that on a laptop.

But I'll probably get a laptop some day for the portability. I wish Mac would come out with a netbook with a decent, portable keyboard. The iPad just doesn't cut it for typing on the bus.

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Jo

I have both and prefer my desktop, because i don't have to connect everything to it to use it. My laptop is great for being away from home and occasional surfing in the other room..

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Keith

I have both. I prefer laptops because they are compact.

Guest's picture

I have a desktop and a laptop at home. I have a laptop at work. I "default" to the desktop at home, so I guess in a way....that is what I prefer. BUT, when I need to work someplace (like Starbucks), the laptop beats the desktop hands down. I would hate to have to lug the CPU, monitor, and keyboard into Starbucks :)

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bevb.

I prefer a laptop computer!

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Carson M.

Obviously it IS a matter of preference and depends on the individual and their lifestyle. But for me, a laptop is far more functional for the money. If you're really trying to trim costs in your life, you purchase things that serve multiple purposes or provide multiple benefits. In this case, a laptop offers much of everything a desktop offers plus allows mobility from room to room and in a variety of different settings outside the home/office as well. That said, in 2011, and with the increasing requirement to be flexible in today's society, a desktop won't nearly give you as much bang for your buck as a laptop would. I even own a laptop that doesn't leave home at all (kinda like a desktop WOULD) while I carry my netbook everywhere I go (for work, travel, etc). Win-win.

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Jessica Wilson

Laptop - I can take it anywhere!

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Guest

I have a desktop and probably always will. I have carpal tunnel and I find the use of a standard keyboard and oversize mouse are easier on my wrists than using a laptop. I grant it's not a portable device, but the lesser pain makes it worth it for me.

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Sarah T.

Well, the first computer I ever owned for myself was an old HP laptop--it was brand new in 2001 when I bought it, I think it lasted me 7 years. I've had my current desktop for about 5 years and it's okay. I considered purchasing one of those super-mini laptops when they came out, but since it was my last year in school and I wouldn't really have need for it after that, I decided against it. I like the convenience a laptop offers nowadays and I see why people go ga-ga over them, but I think I just prefer a desktop. I don't hang out at places for wi-fi or anything so... *shrug* I just don't require that kind of mobility.

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SandyL

We have a desktop and a netbook. The desktop is over 10 years old and is starting to act its age so we are planning on replacing it with a laptop when the time comes. We just like the portability of a laptop and not having to be tied to one particular room when you want/need to use the computer.

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aeko

I have a desk top, but others in my home have a laptop. It would be nice to get rid of all those cords, so a laptop does appeal to me just for the neatness factor. I do feel that they are not as long lasting as a desktop, any comments on that from anyone?

Guest's picture

Laptop easily. My laptop today is about 10X more powerful than my desktop of 8 years ago.

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raene

laptop - portability!

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SarahB

Laptop. I like being able to take my computer with me anywhere. Anything major that requires more that what my computer has can be done on my husband's desktop Mac and Linux server system.

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Kelli B.

I have both, and I love them both for different reasons. I use my desktop for just about everything, and I like it because I can store more (pictures, music, movies) there. I also have a laptop that I love for its mobility.

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Shadoglare

For my primary computer I *much* prefer a full desktop:
A full sized ergonomic keyboard. A full sized mouse. A real, full-sized screen. More expandability options. If I want to upgrade just the video card, or just the DVD drive, etc, I can do that without having to toss the whole computer to upgrade. I don't have to jack around with a bunch of wires every time I want to print, or use a scanner, etc. I have real, amped speakers that outdo many stereo systems.
The only way I can see someone actually preferring a laptop as their main computer is if they travel constantly and/or do nothing with it but surf the web and write an occasional email.

That said, I will admit I do own a small netbook as well, because there are times here and there where I surf while vegging in front of the TV, or listen to music (or look up recipes on the web) in the kitchen, or whatever.

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Dan

I have a laptop and MUCH prefer it. now i have a lot more space because i don't need a desk or chair in one room to have them like i would a desktop. i can take it in the kitchen and watch how-to cooking videos. i can take it in the basement and watch how-to fix it videos, etc. i don't have cable and so also use it to watch a few tv shows in the living room. i'm never going back!

Guest's picture

I have both, but primarily use my desktop. It's expensive to get a laptop that is powerful enough for video editing. My laptop is just a barebones netbook for using the web.

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Liz

I used a desktop almost all my life and I like it, but when we moved, I only had access to my laptop. So now i can say I love my laptop, but what I prefer about my desktop is the way the keys are. On a laptop its compressed, on a desktop you have the additional numbers on the side. Since I input a lot of numbers into a spreadsheet I use my desktop.

So overall a laptop is smaller, but the keys are better on a desktop.

Thanks,
Liz

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Christie Struck

I don't have a very functional laptop, so I use the desktop every day. (My laptop was cobbled together using parts from other laptops. It is adequate for the task, watching movies with my daughter upstairs for "Girl Time", and that's about it.) I love the portability of a laptop, but it does seem to be a little strange to use it on a regular basis at home because of the size and position of the keyboard. If I was sitting in front of a computer all day, I would want a desktop so I can adjust the keyboard so that it is comfortable for me.

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Christine

I have both-I like my desktop because it's on my desk. I can print things out, etc. it's always there ready to go. My laptop is nice when I am downstairs and have nothing in particular to do. Every laptop that I've had gets hot while holding it and I don't like that. I guess you can say I like both for different reasons.

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Von Berry

I have a desktop and no laptop. I like the power of a desktop while I find laptops underpowered. I also like the larger screen of a desktop.

I am considering getting a laptop so I can get online from anywhere.

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Mary E

I have both, a desktop and laptop. I use them both, one for personal use & one for business use. :)

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Brenda Faulkner

I have a PC but would love to have a laptop!

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Nicholas

I have a desktop and do not have a laptop. I will most likely never get a laptop because it does not have near the processing power the desktop PC's have.

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Lani

Laptop. It's all about portability.

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Guest

Its my birthday - can i get a gift card just for that :-)
Jokes aside - i take a laptop ( i have a dell e6410) anyday - i do work all over the house ( am a mom ) and carrying my comp without worrying about how to lift the cpu is a definite plus for me :) not to mention it has 4gb and like 300gb memory

Laptop anyday

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Lois M.

Hi, Happy Tuesday :) I'm at my laptop right now, because it's smaller, can travel with it, and I'm not someone that really does anything fancy that I need to upgrade or add to it. Though, in the end, as long as it is a computer and I can access the internet, I'll use it. LOL

Lois

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Kevin L.

As an avid user of graphic heavy softwares, I personally prefer a desktop. It allows me to easily get upgrade components (video cards, add more RAM, etc.) and cleaning the parts. Also when you use graphic heavy softwares, it uses more memory and CPU so the fans are running at maximum. Since dusts will eventually clog up the heating fans. It is much easier to open up a desktop case than a laptop.

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Boybince

Definitely laptop! Best for those of us on the go, ya know.

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Kristi C.

We have a desktop and laptop in my house. The kids have basic control of the desktop, however I still use it since we have a cabled printer.

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victoria lester

I prefer a laptop over a desktop. I've had both and I love that I'm able to take my laptop anywhere inside or outside my home.

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victoria lester

I tweeted with Hashtag included:
http://twitter.com/#!/victoria99999/status/55265621671288832

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victoria lester

I LIKE you on facebook and I "like" the comment specifing this contest.
I'm victoria liester on fb.
flophasit at yahoo dot com

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Luke

At first I thought Laptop, but then you get an external keyboard and mouse, then a bigger monitor, and before you know it, your workspace is a desktop setup, but powered by this big laptop. If I had to get a new PC, Id go back to the Desktop... my phone is more then powerful enough for me, and If I need something like a laptop again, I'd go with an android tablet.

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Ann

I have had a laptop for the past four years, but I'd like get a desktop next with a larger screen (20" or bigger) for these getting older eyes. Keep the laptop for the teens to use and/or take with me when travelling for work.

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Keri Ritenour

Definitely, a laptop! I had both a desktop and a laptop several years ago, but laptops have come so far and they can travel with you, so I switched. I recently purchased a MacBook Air and love it! I still have my laptop PC and run a virtual PC environment on my Mac, so I have the best of both worlds.

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JillP

Laptop - I can't imagine going back to a desktop only. But both would be ok too. :)

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Guest

We have 1 laptop/1 netbook/ 1 table desk top/1 Galaxy Tab. Dan Chase

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Tony

I have both…

Each serves it’s particular purpose. The laptop, being portable, allows me to take it to the shop floor, work in airports, and take notes in meetings.

On the other hand, the raw power of my desktop and multiple monitors allow serious multitasking. By not being mobile, I can leave tasks queued for real time processing and/or data capture.

If I had to choose only one, the desktop would win without question if only by the volume of work it does in my day to day life.

Veryoldman
Technical Assistance Group

Guest's picture
Matt

I'll give you the standard/lame duck "it depends" answer.

I never owned either, having relied on my employer's laptop for most of my computing needs (I generally avoid buying assets that decline in value), however I finally bit the bullet and was in the market for a desktop mainly because I'm too dependent on my employer and am considering starting my own business. I chose a desktop primarily for longevity whilst knowing that I could still use my employers laptop for my mobility needs.

I'm also a techie so I was considering building my own desktop, however I fell in love with a Lenovo (K320) which should last me at least 5-7 years. In addition, desktops now often come with Bluray drives and plenty of hard drive space and if you get a nice monitor, one can watch movies on them and store and stream other personal media.

I've yet to actually buy the desktop - still waiting for a price drop - but I found a great deal on a Lenovo (small tank) x201 which are their ultra-portable laptops. I pulled the trigger and bought one because even though I'll have a desktop, eventually, I love being able to use the small laptop around the house and whilst traveling.

So, to me it depends on both one's needs and personal situation (e.g. Do you currently own a desktop? Do you travel a lot? Do you own an iPad? etc.).

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Emily

I used to have both. Now I just have a laptop. I prefer laptops because you can take them around the house, use them in the kitchen for recipes, multitask in front of the TV, watch shows in bed, etc. However, I can see the values of desktops, particularly if you want to monitor your kids' usage.

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jbm747

No contest, laptop or pad

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Anne

I use my laptop from work; however one argument for a desktop is that if any of the components break, you can more easily replace it yourself without voiding the warranty.

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claudia

i have a laptop and love it :) i can take it everywhere with me . thanks for the chance :)

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Maria S

Desktops can give you more power for less money

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Matt

I have both. I do most of my work on the laptop, but when I need the extra horsepower or storage, I use the desktop. And when I say "Desktop," I really mean "server." It's a Linux based file server daily external snapshot backups that go back 6 months. I also host some virtual machines on it in case I need to use Windows for some odd reason (I'm a Linux/Unix/MacOS user) or run some experiments on multiple systems at once.

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Dana V.

Laptop, definitely. The portability of it combined with wi-fi allows me to surf the net on the couch, in bed, at the breakfast bar. A desktop is way too confining.

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Francesca Hernandez

We have both a desktop and laptops. The desktop has a large screen for movies and, since it doesn't rely on a battery, computer games. The laptops are for work and everything else.

Guest's picture

I have both, but use the desktop much more. Much bigger monitor, color corrected with a Spyder, printer, scanner, microphone, and backup external hard drive, and two other desktops connected with a wired network. We have a home based business and mostly use the laptop when travelling.

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greyhound lover

one active desktop
one active laptop
one active google cr-48
one unused laptop
one unused desktop

i live alone. am i a geek, do you think?

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Mariel

I think both are different, so, it depends, many people now have minilaptops, so, it all depends... For me, I think desktop is more important for a family, the laptop for the individual.

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Aaron

I use a desktop as my main stay and workhorse to store pictures and videos. My laptop is used on the go and for travel along with an iPad that is great for airplanes.

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Shafnitz

I currently only own a desktop, but I would prefer a laptop.

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Kristy OT

After years of laptops, I've gone back to a desktop and I love it. Cheaper computing power and a more ergonomic environment. And a really big screen!

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TK

I have a desktop. I also have a laptop, but it's a really awful one I bought off my boyfriend for $150 just so I could have one when traveling. I am currently saving up for my first Mac laptop, which I will definitely need when I return to school this fall. While I don't specifically need a Mac for what I will be studying, I don't want to have to spend more money on a Dell or HP laptop in two years because it failed.

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Grace

Definitely laptop. I got mine last fall and will never go back to a desktop. I love its portability--and I can use it in bed!

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Rebekah

I have a laptop. I don't need a machine with intense computing power or gaming ability and I love the portability of a laptop.

Guest's picture

I have both a laptop and desktop. I prefer the laptop for everything except working in excel!

Guest's picture

I have both, but I definitely prefer my laptop - I love being able to sit on the couch and have it on my lap while I sort of also watch TV.

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Kimber

I have both but I like my desk top the best. I guess I am still old school lol!

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Chad

Since I bought my MacBook Pro, over 3 years ago, I do not ever see going back to a desktop. I'm all for portability and with the MBP you have a desktop equal.

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Jennifer

desktop at work, laptop at home. probably getting an ipad for the hubby.

i prefer the laptop...portability is key.

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Alex

Right now I have laptops (1 CR-48, one Acer netbook) for personal use and a desktop at work.

I wish I had a desktop for at home that I could run as a media server for around the house.

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wardo70

desktop...can't stand writing papers or doing any work that takes more than 30-45 minutes on a laptop keyboard

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claire7676

LAPTOP. I can't wait until my desktop dies & I finally can justify buying one. I didn't realize how much heat my desktop gives off. Holy cow...maybe that's why my small computer room can get upwards of 85 degrees in the summer when the rest of the house is 10 degrees cooler! And the non-mobility means that I can't move the desktop to another cooler room. I've had to actually abandon a computer project before because I couldn't deal with the heat in the room. Ouch.

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Lori

Laptop. I can use it anywhere and love the portability.

Guest's picture

I'm a graphic designer, and love my "desktop replacement" laptop. It's heavy-duty enough to run multiple design applications, but I can pick it up and take it with me to a client site if I need to, do work on the move, or set it up in front of the TV so I'm not stuck at a desk even when I'm at home.

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Gene

Desktops are only good for gaming imo. Laptops are just as powerful, but also portable and lightweight.

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CharlieV

I have the HP Pavilion 17.3: Big enough to be a desktop replacement, small enough to be truly portable.

Whether you have a desktop or laptop, always remember that both were designed with planned obsolescence in mind. Your computer is like a car; you take care of it, but eventually you will need a new one. Back your data up to the cloud. The computer you are reading this on has a shelf life, but your resume, baby pictures, etc. don't.

I do a lot of RAM-intesnive work (CS5) so I had to go high end, if you surf the net and type letters, take a look at a netbook instead.

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Jimmy

As an IT professional I have a customer built PC which I use for testing and building virtual labs. I also have a MacBook Pro if I want to be portable. It also helps me stay current with Mac OS X technologies.

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Selene Montgomery

I have both a desk top (which I use at home) and a laptop (which I use in our RV).

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Eric

I have both a desktop and a laptop. I decided to get the desktop for more computing power, and to be a more stable work computer with a larger screen monitor. The laptop is older and used to be my primary system, but now is just when I feel like computing/Internetting while watching TV (though it's slower).

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Barry

Both. Obviously one stays put on the desk and the other "travels".

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Joy

We have one of each but I prefer the laptop, its newer and about 100% faster than the desktop

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Bobbi

I actually prefer a desktop. I find that laptops wear out too soon for my tastes. :) Thanks,

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Jessica

In my home we have two desktops and two laptops. One desktop and one laptop are for personal use, and the other desktop and laptop are used for media purposes (as in, they're each hooked up to a tv). Personally, I like laptops more. :)

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Chris

I work between the office, the library, and home. Thus a laptop is the only practical solution. Plus the race for faster and better performance in a computer just does not have the appeal that it used to. Of course tablets are beginning to tempt my inner geek.

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Mary H.

Laptops. We downsized homes and were able to get rid of a room (office). We put the wireless printer on a 2 drawer filing cabinet in our bedroom and don't miss the desktop at all.
Someone mentioned they didn't think laptops last as long as desktops. I used to think that. I got my first laptop in 2001, and it went up in smoke, literally, 2 years later. But my second laptop (got in 2003-my husband uses it now) and my third laptop (mine-got in 2007) are still going strong.

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katy

I have a desktop...laptops drive me crazy. The rest of the family uses laptops, which is fine...I just think laptops are too squished and I hate the little area that is considered the mouse. When I help my daughter on her laptop, I always have a regular wireless mouse attached to it. It's probably because I've been on a desktop, since I was a kid and it's what I'm used to....

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Jill

I actually have a desktop that is about 4 years old, and a netbook that is about 6 months old. These days I prefer the netbook, I just love how portable it is!

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Kristin

I love my laptop. I can take my work anywhere I want to go.

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Lauren

Laptop over Desktop any day. I work at my office, work at home, work at the coffee shop, work at the library all in one day!

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Lauren

Laptop over Desktop any day. I work at my office, work at home, work at the coffee shop, work at the library all in one day!

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Lauren

Laptop over Desktop any day. I work at my office, work at home, work at the coffee shop, work at the library all in one day!

Guest's picture
Guest

My future son-in-law is in college. He fried his $1200 laptop by dropping a can of soda on the keyboard. He replaced it with a desktop, as with a desktop, replacing a keyboard is a cheap proposition. To me this sort of disaster is the only really good reason to own a desktop. As much as we know not to go near computers with beverages, we all do.

We have laptops in our home. I am amused at how my husband and I sit in the living room, each with our own laptops, reading the news online. A generation ago we would have been reading our own sections of the newspaper. I'm with the majority here in that I love laptops for their portability. Today I am online while I watch babysit my grandson, which I could not do if my computer was nailed down in a home office. My computer recently went to Canada to me. I use it in the kitchen when I am following an online recipe. I watch Netflix while I am sewing. I also watch Netflix when I am using my recumbent exercise bike (made a little shelf out of scrap wood that fits on the bike).

When I can't sleep at night I like to get up to read news, write in my journal or do other constructive things on my laptop... without waking other family members. When we had a desktop, it was kept in the room that doubled as a guestroom. It was especially inconvenient when I had insomnia on nights when I had guests and was unable to use the computer.

.

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CgK

I use only a laptop at home, and at work. I love the mobility.

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Susan D.

Desktop. I don't WANT to be connected wherever I go!

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Betty

I have a desktop, and my daughter has a laptop. I like the desktop so much better. I bought a wireless mouse for the laptop, thinking I would like it better. I still hate it!

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Nancy J. Gill

I have both - the desktop is sort of my "server", and it's the storage machine for music, pictures, and other files. It's networked with the laptop, of course!

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Ann

Laptops only at home and work for several years now.

Guest's picture

I have both a desktop and a laptop. I prefer to use my desktop when we watch media, such as streaming videos on Netflix or Hulu, or watching various network shows. I prefer to use my laptop on trips, such as when I am hiking or visiting family and friends.

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Sara Magee

I have a laptop that I couldn't live without. I use it for every day use, e-mail and web browsing, but I mostly use it for research as a graduate student. I would like to hook up this laptop to a larger screen, but other than that, I never miss the desktop. I love the keyboard on my laptop particularly. I can type incredibly fast with it. In a perfect world, I would have a tablet for taking to school when I need to work on it, because the laptop is somewhat heavy to carry around all day. But I am a confirmed laptop user since last year!!

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Guest

Both!

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Guest

I have both. Some days the laptop is what I use and other days desktop.
Mostly desktop for the involved work

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Mary

Laptops are the way to go! I can take it everywhere I need to be.

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Michelle

Love my laptop. I can't imagine even going back to a desktop at home. I love being able to tuck my laptop away and taking it with me whenever I want.

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Mattie

Desktop, but I wish it was a fancy Mac laptop :)

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Angela B.

I have a desktop. And a second hand laptop that doesn't work.