The present craze seems to be all about mobile, especially people wanting to replace their desktops with mobile devices as their daily business driver. This

Why Mobile Devices Cannot Replace PCs Yet

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Tablets as PCs

The present craze seems to be all about mobile, especially people wanting to replace their desktops with mobile devices as their daily business driver. This is some cool hope. But from the little corner where I stand, I believe that the complete switch from desktop to mobile is unlikely to happen anytime soon in these parts.

In matters of battery power and uptime, many tablets and some phones are getting rather plucky. In addition, the processors and RAMs found on many high end mobile devices today would make some full fledged PCs groan in envy. Then those screens, gee! It is agreed without reservation that devices such as the Galaxy Note II, HTC Droid DNA, Lumia 920 or the 4th generation iPad have screens sharper than most mainstream PCs. Even in affairs of storage size, these phones and tablets are not found wanting. Agreed. But there are still a few things that make a typical Windows or Mac computer the boss, especially in the field of productivity.

Input And Display

The first is the physical keyboard. Touch input software are ubiquitous, sure. But it still can’t beat your expert fingers if you’re adept enough at typing. There is that unique tactile feedback that can only be given by plastic buttons. A quick question here, Would it be easier to type your company memo on some tablet with a 7-inch screen with half of that screen as a virtual keypad or a nice laptop with a full keyboard and a full display? Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at display size. Until 13-inch mobile screens become commonplace (though I don’t know if we can call them mobile again at that size), using Photoshop, or editing a HD video would be more appealing and easier on a PC compared to an iPad.

USB or You Used To Be?

Perhaps the biggest upside PCs have against mobile devices around here yet is the prevalence of physical media and external devices. Many people still install software from CDs. I myself rip some of my music from them. Until our internet services are capable of enabling us download and install 5 GB software from an online source within 45 minutes, most of us would still prefer popping in a disk to install that GTA Vice City game. And then there’s USB and its own slew of functions. USB thumb devices are a common sight around here, from data transfer to offline backups to internet and Bluetooth connectivity, and as a nexus to many other devices. Need a drive to run BluRay disks? USB to the rescue. Need another keyboard, mouse or an external monitor? We connect them via USB. Want to play games with a game joypad? Connecting an external backup media? Attach a webcam to your desktop PC? We make use of USB for virtually all these. They’ve become an enmeshed part of PC usage. Since most mobile operating systems don’t support USB OTG from the box, and they don’t seem to have a compelling alternative for these USB functions, they’ll still need to chill before taking PCs head on in serious work use.


On the software front, even with the 750,000 apps in iTunes Store and Google Play Store, I am sure that there’re still some legacy Windows software that have no worthy mobile alternative yet. It is possible to run Android apps on a PC (with BlueStacks), but it isn’t possible for an Android device to run Windows .exe or .msi files. Maybe that will change in the near future.

Mobile Still Depends On PC

Lastly, our mobile devices still need a full desktop OS to do some things easily. Talk about back-up, transferring media files (especially for iOS devices), and OS install/update, etc. Though they can be used independently, but how many of us have used our smartphones for up to a year without having any need or cause to hook it up to their PC or Mac? Yeah that’s the kind of independence I am talking about.

By way of conclusion, to Mister Mo and the many others who dream of replacing their PCs with their mobiles very soon, enjoy the dreams and don’t hold your breath while at it. But then this is my own opinion, any additional concurrent or divergent views would be welcome and appreciated if stated in the comments section. Gracias.


  1. @Saiddigge, I remember us having a conversation on this.

    iYou have a lot of cogent points there. for lots of people, total replacement may not be possible just yet.

    But, I feel the determining factor is, what do you use your device for?

    I have a netbook that is mostly used by my children to play ToyBox and other educational games.

    there are long, really long periods when I do not need to touch the netbook. it just gathers dust there!

    this has led me to seriously considering selling the thing off, and getting a tablet for myself and for the kids too.
    I will surely appreciate the better battery life, increased portability, cheaper widescreen browseing (using Opera Mini on a Tablet fans a pretty penny).

    In my specific case, a tablet will do most of the things I currently do, with just once_in_a_blue_moon need for PC.

  2. nice points you have made, and i believe that is what the windows 8 tablet platform tries to resolve.

    take a look at the advantages of some of the windows 8 convertibles running the intel clover trail processors.

    1. for input, we are talking of convertibles so most have a transformer like tablet/keyboard combo or u can easily dock and use the keyboard that comes with it,a bluethooth keyboard of a full usb keyboard so many options

    2. some of them have a full usb port on the tablet part of the ocnvertible itself like the dell lattitude 10, samsung ativ smartpc. acer has a micro usb port on the tablet but comes with a microusb to full usb adapter and all of them have full usb on the keyboard dock. so connectivity is taken care of

    3. it runs full windows 8 so you can use all legacy software that runs on traditional windows together with the metro apps. these are full windows machines and the new clover trail processors are far better than what we are used to on the netbooks (atom processors)

    4. battery life is epic for a full windows 8 tablet. most review are getting 10 hrs of intensive usage comparable to the ipad which is a great plus for a full windows tablet running on x86 processor architecture.

    5. these convertibles do not need to depend on pcs cos they are pcs!

    my pick is the dell lattitude 10, saving up to buy that. wonder why most people are not looking at going in the direction of the ocnvertibles guess maybe is because they are not yet readily available and most bloggers have kinda rubbished windows 8. i currently use windows 8 on a laptop and i am in love with it.
    i wonder what these bloggers want sef, if its not apple or ios dem go complain…

  3. @EyeBeeKay yes, the conversation inspired this article. Your point is very well valid, though many use their devices for more and more often

    @bily Windows 8 tablets is very good way to bridge these gaps, though I’m not so sure about that battery life part.
    Bloggers bashed Windows 8 as they’re also bashing WP8, BlackBerry and co, its a worrisome syndrome, what is new and unfamiliar is prima facie bad

  4. I totally agree with some of the points u raised, it’s a lot better typing a document on a laptop than say tablet or mobile phone. the on-screen keyboard covering half of the screen is something I can’t live with.

    even some Google websites work on a PC than say a Galaxy Tab. tablets have a long way to go before they can really become a pc’s replacement. typing on a hardware pc’s keyboardos way easier and faster than an on-screen keyboard.

  5. the on-screen
    keyboard covering half of
    the screen is something I
    can’t live with.

    Depends on the specific keyboard app being used. Lots can be configured to optimize screen space usage.

    besides, this is a platitude heard so often it is beginning to sound like it has some patina of truth!.

    The touchscreen was invented to solve the problem of weight, and more importantly, to provide us with more useable screen real_estate.

    A touchscreen keyboard disappears when you do not need it, and appears when you do. Neat!

    typing on a
    hardware pc’s keyboard is
    way easier and faster than
    an on-screen keyboard.

    Easier? l I will just let that slide, although that needs further qualification.

    But faster? No sir!


  6. I have a laptop, a tablet and smartphones. And despite the fact that I can take my phones anywhere, my tablet almost anywhere, my laptop remains my favorite device.

    It will take a long while before any tablet can make me give up my laptop. Not till tablets can pack the 1TB my laptop has, or connect and support an external hard disk (spinning)

  7. yes of course tablet cannot take on PC. but it all depends on the users. most pips use their laptops for basic operations like the office and media which tablets offer in a platter of gold. but when things get really serious, the PC has no rival.
    left for me to choose ill go for a tablet while i have . super optimized desktop PC siting with >32″ high resolution display monitor waiting back home. and wen i say super optimized, i mean super optimized not all those 1980’s junk we see around.

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