Desktops versus laptops: an overview

As recently as 2008 you had two pretty straightforward choices when it came to computing: the desktop or the laptop.

The desktop is traditionally a large computer consisting of a tower, separate keyboard and mouse, and a monitor. The benefits of a desktop computer are that they have considerably higher specs than their smaller cousins and pack a considerably larger technological punch for your money. More demanding tasks such as gaming, video editing and music production were exclusively tasks of the desktop.

The laptop however, despite its initial shortcomings, has its own set of advantages. Before the advent of cloud computing it provided an efficient way of carrying larger amounts of data around with you on the move. It was possible to take the office with you on the train, on holiday or anywhere else that wasn’t more than a couple of hours from an electrical socket. Its diminutive size did mean there were some compromises on performance at first but nowadays these have been almost entirely overcome.

Yet we have not just seen the power of both desktops and laptops increase exponentially but have also seen the emergence of notebooks, smartphones, tablets and netbooks. As the power and capability of the laptop evolved into something resembling a mini-desktop with larger screens, more powerful hardware and the increasing reliance on cloud computing developed an emerging market for computers which were ultra-portable, more affordable but still versatile.

Whereas tablets fulfilled the need of the social media monkeys and casual gamers the lack of a proper ‘qwerty’ keyboard made them less attractive to people who wanted something just as small, light and portable but with the intention of completing predominantly work-based tasks. This gave birth to the netbook.

By stripping away many of the more advanced and glamorous elements from the laptop, netbooks have the added advantage of better battery life, cooling systems and of course a lower price.

There has always been and always will be a need for the simple and uncluttered so many businesses equip their employees with netbooks – recognising the merits of their affordability, reliability and ability to access cloud networks – all of which are vital for an employee on the move.

It is somehow re-assuring that whilst every new generation of laptop comes with a host of new bells, whistles and tricks, there will always remain something beautiful, simple, affordable and perfectly designed for basic tasks.