I’ve owned three laptops to date. Of those only one survived and that was mainly through being a bit too puny to get used. Hopefully one day I’ll find something fun to do with it.

The most expensive of those served me well and was used to edit the Napier Subculture Podcast amongst other things. It had a rather good spec for the time and cost me the best part of £1000. The previous laptop I’d owned had cost about £450 and became unusable after two years of use due to overheating issues.

My expensive laptop on the other hand… became unusable after two years due to overheating issues.

In fact when I’ve asked friends (who use their computers for similar things, not those who just browse Facebook) it seems that two years is basically the lifetime of any laptop.

At the moment I don’t have a laptop, essentially, and whilst I’d love to be able to do stuff on the go I just cannot justify something that will have a two year lifespan in my hands. I cannot foresee myself purchasing another based on the way laptops perform now. Perhaps further down the line radical changes will give me new options but for now it just seems like folly.

Prior to a few weeks ago I could not see a use case for tablet computers in my life. I can see their usefulness to others under specific circumstances just not in my own life. Then I started thinking about how long tablets might last. Are they likely to suffer from overheating issues like laptops do?

In my mind it seems unlikely but I’m going to have to wait and see. Smartphones are good but something larger would probably be more useful, particularly if it was running Ubuntu or similar. The lifetime of the device is what concerns me most ultimately. I want it to survive until there’s something good enough to warrant a replacement, much like my smartphone. I shouldn’t be replacing it just because the damn thing cooked itself!

This also got me thinking about whether laptops will soon be a thing of the past. They’re, for the most part, based on x86 processors. Terrible efficiency there with regards to power requirements vs. computational performance. ARM architecture processors are becoming considerably more popular I would argue primarily due to the smartphone market.

As a result tablets use ARM processors/ARM-based SoCs and whole ecosystem of software has emerged to support them. If tablets and laptops effectively merged as a hardware class I would imagine they’d do so around ARM hardware and Android/Linux/iOS.

If that were to happen and ARM tablets and laptops took over it’d be interesting to see whether Windows would be able to hold on. Microsoft are trying to get a foot in the door but to call the reception they’re getting “lukewarm” would be generous. That would leave desktop PCs as the last stronghold for Windows.

That would break down into home PCs and corporate. Now corporate is a safer bet due to the cost of transition and general sluggishness associated with the market. Desktop PCs on the other hand move a bit more quickly. How soon until they’re no longer necessary either?

People are now familiar with app stores and built in functionality that currently Windows just doesn’t supply. Windows 8 is trying to push things in that direction but only time will tell how well that will work out. The colossal mess Microsoft made with Windows Live doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

I’m curious where tablets will fit into this as they seem to supply much of the functionality people are after without the hassle of Windows and the clutter of desktop PCs. Perhaps things will stay roughly the same but perhaps one aspect of today’s technology will squash the other?

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