Why Mobile Devices Cannot Replace PCs Yet

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.

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