Saturday, October 13, 2012

Post-PC Era, eh?

It's funny and a bit weird to see all the ads for Windows 8 coming out. Obviously I am gonna download it (only $40? Digital delivery? Nice work Microsoft, taking a solid page from Apple here, well played). It looks well designed, beautiful, fast as heck (due to certain time requirement restrictions for Metro Apps running on the UI thread) and well... looks like I'll be missing out if my main monitor is not a touch-screen :)

I am currently running a Dell Desktop from 2008 on two 22-inch monitors, and switching with a KVM and a 2011 Mac Mini.

The Desktop I bought is a total beast and is pretty epic but it's pushing 4.5 years old... I'm surprised it's still running like a champ. Only 4 GB of RAM on this bad boy, kinda crazy right? My Mac Mini is about 1/20th the size and actual a fair bit more powerful (except for the Graphics card, of course).

This begs the question, where is home computing going? I am going to get an iPad soon and that will certainly replace a lot of my sitting on the computer at night Facebooking and email time. I also recently got a Kindle. So it's clear that at least my computer and electronic-based "consumption" (eg reading, random web surfing, reading articles, Facebook, email) is migrating away from the stuffy desktop.

But how about "real work?" I still do that kind of stuff a fair bit, and I've read some articles in the past saying that iPads and their ilk are really primarily "consumption" devices rather than "productive" devices (like the Desktop computer). I suppose I could imagine photo editing on an iPad in the future, certainly browsing, skype, etc. That is all largely a better experience lounging on the couch or at least not at a desk. But how about writing/blogging? Serious photo manipulation (eg Lightroom) with RAW files and needing a lot of processing power? Photoshop? 3D Applications?

As much as Apple likes to promote it, I don't think we're actually in a "Post-PC era" - rather the things we are doing on these machines are changing. It's super cool that you can record guitar on your iPad in GarageBand, yes, but for any real serious video or audio editing, we're still gonna need a beast of a machine that can handle Terrabytes of data, has fail-safes like backup systems, and has the processing power necessary to handle large data sets. I have yet to see a tablet real solve the photo-blogging workflow (take RAW photos, save them, do basic edits, caption, and intersperse the images with a story, then upload and share to social networks.) This kind of photoblogging workflow is arguably one of the most common uses of my Desktop right now, and until that's much better thought out on one of these mobile options, I think I'm gonna be using my computer and mouse for the time being. I wonder if we're all gonna have touch screens soon enough though. And when we do, what will happen to the 2nd monitor that I find so useful? Maybe we'll all end up with a tablet + single larger screen (24" or 27"?) In any case, this shift from all your work happening on the desktop is kinda cool, and seems to quickly becoming the norm. iPad has some excellent mobile Financial apps, and that's "real" work! So I wonder how long it'll take for the tablet to become more of a work device and less of a consumer product.

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