A schoolboy looks up from his computer screen in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday. PCs can still outperform smartphones and tablets because of their processing power. (AP Photo)

Technology is constantly evolving, the old will be replaced by the new. In fact, it seems not too long ago, I was using the floppy disk to store data. Fast forward today, even CD drives are nearing obsolescence and might be replaced with USBs one day.

The same can be said of the personal computer (PC). It used to rule the nest, but with the evolution of smartphones and tablets, PCs appear to have taken a back seat in recent years.

Is it possible that one day, PCs may be completely taken over by those mobile devices? Let’s take a route down the pros and cons of the PC. It certainly has come a long way since it was first created in the 1960s. Hewlett-Packard advertised its Powerful Computing Genie as “The New Hewlett-Packard 9100A personal computer” in 1968, which was actually a programmable calculator. The term “personal computer” gradually gained enough recognition over the years before other tech companies finally labelled all their computers with that term.

From mainframes to PCs, it was the introduction of microprocessors in the early 1970s that made it possible. Initial mainframe computers were not meant for interaction, but rather, processing and analysing. Users would submit their assignments through card punches and the computers processed them in batch mode, producing output in hours.

Today, we expect so much more from our PCs and laptops. The evolution of PCs has made impressive progress, allowing users to complete their businesses and personal tasks within seconds. As I sat at my desk typing this, I often wondered back to those days of manual writing and physically delivering my articles for print. Today, I type on it and click the “send” button without so much of an afterthought of how much time I had saved compared with years before.

While some have proven that smartphones and tablets may do the job equally well with a few extra advantages, such as mobility and convenience, PCs still some have some tricks that smartphones and tablets can’t outdo.

In the corporate world, PCs continue to be the chief endpoint devices to get the job done. While laptops have made significant inroads, a full-blown PC is still the most versatile and efficient tool as it caters to the multiple demands of various business applications as well as the processing time and data storage.

As the numbers decline over the years for PCs, it is not really a significant drop since it is still very relevant in the corporate world. However, the PC’s life cycle has lengthened from three years to at least five now. Of course, PCs today are better built and equipped, increasing its reliability to stretch more.

While the tablet was also predicted in previous years to overtake PCs and laptops, surprisingly, it still hasn’t. In fact, tablet sales has declined. Instead, smartphones, with their convenience, mobility and camera plus video functionality, are taking top spot.

That said, I still believe PCs will never be fully obsolete. When it comes to power, a PC can still outdo the smartphone and tablet due to its processor, which requires greater power and cooling. The others are more compact, thus limiting the capability of the processors that can only be installed on these smaller gadgets.

While we think we love our little savvy small screens, some things are just better on bigger screens. Watching a movie, gaming, editing photos, writing articles
or blogs, creating art, music, entertainment and more, are definitely better with a PC. Why else would smartphone companies maximise their screen sizes today?

Storage is also a crucial element. While there is cloud data now, some of us prefer to rely on the old fashion way and store data on PCs. PCs are now offering terabytes of storage while smartphones and tablets are still keeping data storage low due to its limited size.

Application is a big thing too. There is an app for everything. App availability on smartphones and tablets can still never really keep up with the complexity and sophistication users would find on PC operating platforms such as Windows. Try using Excel on your smartphone! Operating platforms on PCs allows so much more efficiency when it comes to multitasking and performance.

Ask any serious gamers out there, and they will tell you why they still want to play games on PCs or laptops. We’re talking graphics, speed, controllability, connection and more on PCs than on smartphones and tablets.

I can go on, but the point here is that PCs are not as easily replaceable as one might think. To get out of the rut, the PC industry has to shift its focus and evolve with the requirements of today’s users. Perhaps, a hybrid of PCs with smartphones and tablets may be the answer. There’s also the need to expand PC usage to other niche segments. Gaming is big business today. Demand for more graphics-intensive applications is also another opportunity, as has been greatly capitalised by the likes of Apple Macs.

To be fair, I still enjoy both my PC and smartphone. I use them for work and personal use, depending on the better functionality of each device. I still do not see smartphone overtaking all technology on a PC as of now. If the PC industry can come up with more powerful and applications intensive machines that can cater to more users in different market segments, I believe PCs will still be around for many more years to come.

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