Hardware

Is the PC a dinosaur? Readers predict the future

TechRepublic readers debate whether the dawning of a wireless world will threaten the existence of desktop PCs. While some predict a PC-less future, others argue that'll never happen.


TechRepublic’s recent article “Free PalmPilots? Incredible changes predicted in the wireless world ” discussed the uncertain future of the desktop PC, as consumers demand new wireless devices.

The article sparked a debate among TechRepublic readers. A few of the e-mails and posted comments we received predicted that the PC would become nothing more than a giant paperweight. But most readers told us they believe that the PC would not be replaced by wireless technologies in the foreseeable future.

Going . . . going . . . gone!
“I think the PC will go away,” said Roger Johnson. “But it won't be until the wireless versions become more powerful.”

Johnson said he thinks wireless users will connect their portable devices to keyboards, mice, and monitors via docking stations in the future.

E.J. W. Hannivoort of the Netherlands offered this wry (or possibly prophetic) take on technological evolution: “Perhaps the PalmPilots-to-be will interface with huge screens on your walls and ceilings and input will be voice controlled. Perhaps even the input- and output-interface will be to brain implants . . . Perhaps Smalltalk and its child Windows will be a thing of the past. Perhaps the PC is not here to stay after all.”

Another prediction was provided by stebonez, who foresees homes with a mainframe computer in a special space and small workstations in every room. Everyone in the house will have access to consumer reports, homework, shopping, and other forms of communication from “video phone to interactive e-mail.”

The PDA will become the main source of information, according to stebonez, but it will be supplemental to the home system, “as we turn to our large-screen, super-fast, interactive, voice-controlled secondary spouse.”

And finally, mplucker offered this pragmatic observation: “Practicality will win out every time. If new technology is more practical, [available at] the right price, and just as (or more) useful than the old, the new will then prevail."

Irreplaceable, that’s what you are
Despite these visions of the future, most of the chorus of posts and e-mail comments promised the PC would be around for many years to come.

“When compared with PDAs, PCs offer a huge advantage in almost every respect, and I don't see the day when PCs are pushed aside in favor of PDAs or any other gadget with a screen that was intended for mosquitoes,” wrote chris_lopes, who also noted that compared to e-mail, it feels good to talk to people over the telephone and even better face-to-face.

“The dinosaur is not extinct yet!” wrote David Tisch. “There is still an older user base (and maybe even some younger users) in the marketplace that still don't and won't trust servers and networks and want their files local.”

Several members mentioned the fact that a number of professions require the use of large monitors, particularly artists, architects, and programmers.

“I always find myself with the predicament of never having enough desktop space to view multiple presentations at 100 percent view,” said Daren Dhoray. “So I say long live the desktop PC.”

“Gee . . . 3 by 4 inches to make a report, design a spreadsheet, or heaven forbid, kick butt in Quake,” wrote Chris Lewis. “Nah, the PC and its like will be around until we can get pure holograph projection, vocal and hand reading inputs, and data recall via thought.”

The more the merrier
PCs aren’t going anywhere, said Rick Bridges, tech supervisor for the Cincinnati Bell Wireless Project for Convergys Corporation.

“The CPUs will get smaller and the monitors will be thinner, but they will be with us for a long time,” he wrote. And along with their desktops and laptops, Bridges said his tech team members are not ready to give up their digital cell phones and PDAs.

There is still life in the old computer yet, according to United Kingdom reader Gary L. Cooper. He asserted that mobile and desktop devices complement each other, noting that handheld devices are too small for many applications.

“Palm Pilot-size screens would provide a better standard, but even so, full motion streaming video is still going to be difficult to watch unless future handsets have some sort of VR headset attachment,” Cooper wrote.

Reader Shannon J. Hager predicted the future based on advances we’ve already experienced.

“Wireless mobile computing and Internet devices will not replace desktop units any more than cordless phones replaced the wired phones that sit on your desk or GameBoys replaced the game consoles.”
Where are all these connectivity options going to take us in the future? Will there be park benches full of high tech workers blinking into tiny monitors, shouting into headset microphones, and scaring away all the pigeons and squirrels? Post a comment below or send us a note.
TechRepublic’s recent article “Free PalmPilots? Incredible changes predicted in the wireless world ” discussed the uncertain future of the desktop PC, as consumers demand new wireless devices.

The article sparked a debate among TechRepublic readers. A few of the e-mails and posted comments we received predicted that the PC would become nothing more than a giant paperweight. But most readers told us they believe that the PC would not be replaced by wireless technologies in the foreseeable future.

Going . . . going . . . gone!
“I think the PC will go away,” said Roger Johnson. “But it won't be until the wireless versions become more powerful.”

Johnson said he thinks wireless users will connect their portable devices to keyboards, mice, and monitors via docking stations in the future.

E.J. W. Hannivoort of the Netherlands offered this wry (or possibly prophetic) take on technological evolution: “Perhaps the PalmPilots-to-be will interface with huge screens on your walls and ceilings and input will be voice controlled. Perhaps even the input- and output-interface will be to brain implants . . . Perhaps Smalltalk and its child Windows will be a thing of the past. Perhaps the PC is not here to stay after all.”

Another prediction was provided by stebonez, who foresees homes with a mainframe computer in a special space and small workstations in every room. Everyone in the house will have access to consumer reports, homework, shopping, and other forms of communication from “video phone to interactive e-mail.”

The PDA will become the main source of information, according to stebonez, but it will be supplemental to the home system, “as we turn to our large-screen, super-fast, interactive, voice-controlled secondary spouse.”

And finally, mplucker offered this pragmatic observation: “Practicality will win out every time. If new technology is more practical, [available at] the right price, and just as (or more) useful than the old, the new will then prevail."

Irreplaceable, that’s what you are
Despite these visions of the future, most of the chorus of posts and e-mail comments promised the PC would be around for many years to come.

“When compared with PDAs, PCs offer a huge advantage in almost every respect, and I don't see the day when PCs are pushed aside in favor of PDAs or any other gadget with a screen that was intended for mosquitoes,” wrote chris_lopes, who also noted that compared to e-mail, it feels good to talk to people over the telephone and even better face-to-face.

“The dinosaur is not extinct yet!” wrote David Tisch. “There is still an older user base (and maybe even some younger users) in the marketplace that still don't and won't trust servers and networks and want their files local.”

Several members mentioned the fact that a number of professions require the use of large monitors, particularly artists, architects, and programmers.

“I always find myself with the predicament of never having enough desktop space to view multiple presentations at 100 percent view,” said Daren Dhoray. “So I say long live the desktop PC.”

“Gee . . . 3 by 4 inches to make a report, design a spreadsheet, or heaven forbid, kick butt in Quake,” wrote Chris Lewis. “Nah, the PC and its like will be around until we can get pure holograph projection, vocal and hand reading inputs, and data recall via thought.”

The more the merrier
PCs aren’t going anywhere, said Rick Bridges, tech supervisor for the Cincinnati Bell Wireless Project for Convergys Corporation.

“The CPUs will get smaller and the monitors will be thinner, but they will be with us for a long time,” he wrote. And along with their desktops and laptops, Bridges said his tech team members are not ready to give up their digital cell phones and PDAs.

There is still life in the old computer yet, according to United Kingdom reader Gary L. Cooper. He asserted that mobile and desktop devices complement each other, noting that handheld devices are too small for many applications.

“Palm Pilot-size screens would provide a better standard, but even so, full motion streaming video is still going to be difficult to watch unless future handsets have some sort of VR headset attachment,” Cooper wrote.

Reader Shannon J. Hager predicted the future based on advances we’ve already experienced.

“Wireless mobile computing and Internet devices will not replace desktop units any more than cordless phones replaced the wired phones that sit on your desk or GameBoys replaced the game consoles.”
Where are all these connectivity options going to take us in the future? Will there be park benches full of high tech workers blinking into tiny monitors, shouting into headset microphones, and scaring away all the pigeons and squirrels? Post a comment below or send us a note.

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