Over the last couple of years, technology analysts have been predicting the demise of desktop computers and laptops. The supporting argument for this forecast is that the frenzied growth of smartphones and tablets is redefining the way we approach computing. While it is true that many people have chosen to manage their lives directly from their iPhones, iPads or Android-powered smartphones and tablets, the truth is that desktop and laptop computer systems are far from over.
On the desktop front, we are seeing smaller CPU devices and virtualization; on the portable front, we are seeing innovation and flexibility. For the most part, portable computers these days have greatly improved over the netbooks and laptops of yore; the three modern devices below can really bridge the gap between desktops and mobile devices while providing improved levels of functionality and connectivity.
There was a time when Microsoft did not even entertain the idea of producing hardware. These days, however, Microsoft is a respectable brand of video game consoles and hybrid laptop/tablet devices. The first couple of devices launched under the Surface line were impressive in terms of design and durability, but performance was lacking. The Surface 3 addresses many of the shortcomings of its predecessors, starting with the operating system.
What Microsoft has accomplished with the Surface 3 is a truly versatile device that can run all modern Windows programs as either a tablet or a laptop. The battery life and performance of the Surface 3, which accepts input from touch, keyboard, mouse, tracking device, or even stylus, may not be impressive, but they are sufficient for users who need a reasonable portable computing solution for work or school.
Apple is the current dominating force in smartphones, tablets and smart watches, but this does not mean that the company is giving up on the portable computing sector. Apple has upgraded the MacBook Pro to a device that delivers impressive battery life, attractive design, and the best graphics you can get on a 13-inch screen. This Apple portable is powered by OS X, which means a flawless computing experience for all types of users. Business users, students, gamers, and artists will find that this portable machine can easily support their lifestyle, particularly if they use iOS mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPad.
Search engine giant Google is still trying to find a comfortable place in the world of portable computing. The Android mobile operating system already powers millions of smartphones and tablets around the world, but the Chrome OS has failed to capture market share in such proportions. With this in mind, the Chrome OS is poised to become the operating system of choice for affordable mini-laptops that are replacing the netbooks of yore, but Google wants to showcase Chrome OS in a more attractive machine.
The current Chromebook Pixel provides the best online experience of any portable computer; however, going offline continues to be an issue for Chrome OS devices. Even though Google has vastly improved the offline capabilities of Chrome OS, the experience is far from ideal when there is no Internet connection. Surface and MacBook devices do not suffer from this issue, and even with an ever-growing selection of apps in the Chrome Web Store, the reality is that Google is still very much an online-only experience.