Why You Should Buy a Desktop Computer
My first laptop, purchased back in 1997, was a 12-pound gray Toshiba that took approximately eight minutes to fully boot and froze constantly. It had something like 256MB of RAM, which was considered a great deal of RAM at the time. I believe it cost a little under $1,800 (which, in today's money, is like $6 million). It broke down after a year, which is fine, because I probably would have thrown it out the window if it hadn't simply stopped working. (See also: Make Your Computer Faster Instead of Buying a New One)
The laptop computer has undergone quite the transformation in the past few years. Laptops are lighter and more stylish, and they have more processing power than my first laptop could have ever dreamed of. But I'm probably not going to be buying one anytime soon. Now, with the advent of better laptops, tiny netbooks, and adorable iPads, my next computer is going to be a desktop.
Why on Earth would anyone pay for a big, clunky machine that is stuck in one place? Here are a few reasons why I am choosing a desktop over a laptop.
Desktops Are More Affordable
Dollar for dollar, a desktop is simply a better investment in terms of raw computing power. Making RAM and memory small enough to fit in the laptop is expensive, so you pay more for the same processing power in a laptop than you would in a desktop.
I'm not really a multi-tasker, but a great deal of my work involves switching between applications. I might be working on a website and then change over to graphics editing and then need to check the contents of a technical manual. I need a computer that has the RAM to handle all of the back-and-forth. Many of today's laptops have that much memory, but the cost of that memory in laptop form is prohibitive for me.
Could I get all the processing power that I need in a laptop computer? Yes, but I would pay a great deal more for the portability.
I Don't Like to Work Just Anywhere
Stop by any cafe with WiFi, and you will find at least 40% of the customers are working on some kind of portable computer. This kind of productivity is fine, but not everyone can work effectively in a cafe. Personally, I can't even READ in a cafe. If I go to a coffeehouse, I can do two things: drink coffee and stare at other patrons. I am literally incapable of doing more than that.
People love the portability of laptops, tablet computers, and netbooks because they can use the technology to work anywhere. And that's great — for people who are able to tune out ambient noise and concentrate on one thing at a time. For some of us, that's just not a possibility. I, for one, can only perform work in my cubicle at work or at my desk in my home office. Other locations just aren't conducive to my productivity. I'm easily distracted, and the noise in airports, cafes, and bookstores doesn't help me work.
WiFi and I...We Don't Get Along
I'm not sure what it is about the magnetic field surrounding my body, but I am capable of repelling the signal of any wireless network in my vicinity. Does anyone else experience this? If I am lucky enough to locate an actual wireless network, I won't be able to convince a laptop to connect to it. In my home, we have a wireless network set up for my husband's various laptop computers. I can't use them. In order to guarantee that I can watch "Modern Family," I have to plug a computer into a wired Ethernet connection.
I recognize that this is not a normal problem that normal people experience, but it does make a huge difference in how I feel about traveling around with a laptop.
I Like the End of a Workday
I like the idea of being able to put my work down. If I carried a laptop with me everywhere, I'd never escape from the feeling that I could be working at all times. I like to separate work from the rest of my life. The beauty of having a desktop computer is that once I walk away from it, I walk away from work and can concentrate on other things. When you work as many jobs as I do, having that kind of physical separation is important.
Laptops Have Lousy Ergonomics
Laptops aren't always conducive to comfortable typing. Once you get used to an ergonomic keyboard and gigantic trackball with gel wrist pad, it's hard to go back to a strange, cramped little keyboard that's missing the number pad, or using those little keyboard nipples in lieu of a mouse. Or a touchpad. My god, I hate touchpads. One accidental swipe with the thumb, and you end up deleting entire paragraphs at a single keystroke.
I've often heard people suggest that laptops can function as desktops. "You can dock your laptop and plug in a mouse and a keyboard!" This is true, but once you've docked a laptop, you might as well be using a desktop. Why bother paying extra money for portable technology when you just have to pay hundreds extra in peripherals in order to make it feel comfortable to use?
Data Is Highly Portable
But what about moving data around? The great thing about a laptop is that you can take your ENTIRE hard drive with you wherever you go. This is true. But I can also take whatever I am working on wherever I go via a USB thumb drive or external hard drive. I don't travel much for work, but on the rare occasion that I do, I can access my documents using Google Docs from a borrowed or rented computer. Of course, for some people, travel with a laptop is a fact of life, but for me, travel is a rare luxury that isn't meant to be marred by experiencing airport security while hauling a laptop.
A business laptop comes with a standard warranty of about one year (top-of-the-line models might come with three-year warranties, but are significantly more expensive). A desktop comes with a standard warranty of three years. This means that it is cheaper to fix desktop computers in the long run. The reason is obvious — a laptop gets moved around, banged up, and is prone to breaking down sooner as a result.
Of course, someone could break into my home and steal my desktop — I'm not suggesting it won't happen. But it's much less likely to happen than having someone steal a laptop. Anyone who broke into my house would have get past a ferocious, man-eating Pekingese, whereas swiping a laptop from my car wouldn't take much effort at all.
Do you use a desktop computer, or are laptops the best thing that has ever happened to you? Do you have some unique combination of computing power that makes your life easy? Share it with us in the comments.
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