Do You Really Need a Computer or Just Another Gadget?

With so many varieties of computer gadget on the market, do you really need a powerful desktop computer?

For many, the desktop computer is not the perfect tool for the job and there are many alternatives to consider from tablets to laptops and even (where’s the spitoon) Apple products.

When we consider whether the desktop computer is what you really need we have to consider whether you need the portability of a tablet PC, the ability to talk text and surf on a smartphone or the power and minimal portability of a desktop replacement laptop. Businessman have different computing needs to gamers; field-based salesman have different needs to the in-kitchen housewife….. everyone is different.


If you are looking for something that is easy to carry, used for occasional web surfing, e-mail management and not so much for client interaction, maybe a simple smartphone is for you. There are many smartphone devices on the market and covering all of them would fill up most of this page with nonsense; but for the corporate secure device many organisations opt for the BlackBerry or iPhone ranges whereas for something more sociably aesthetically pleasing the Samsung S3 is currently all the rage.

My smartphone of choice at the moment is the brand new BlackBerry Z10.


For something that is portable but with a screen that you can read and research on a tablet computer is a top product. Tablet computers do not have a built in keyboard but you use the tablet and type on the touch-screen itself and tablets have anything from a 7 inch to 12 inch screen.

You may have seen tablet PCs in use on live news or sports programs allowing the presenter to have access to up to date information, or supermarket staff using them to pick a customers home delivery order. Tablets are cheap, portable and can often be a better alternative to a laptop.

Tablet PCs come with a wide range of operating systems including those from Microsoft, Apple and Android.

Netbooks and Ultrabooks

Something that I admittedly do not own at the moment is a netbook or an ultrabook. Both are very similar, but the Ultrabook is now a protected term owned by Intel and they define what technology must be included to allow an Ultrabook to be called so.

Netbooks are essentially small laptops. They will usually be less powerful than a laptop because they are designed to be portable Internet devices with low level, power-saving specifications which are useful for most business tasks such as word processing and Internet research, but will struggle with memory intensive applications such as video editing, gaming or even some of the more recent Windows 7 functionality. Netbook’s are commonly places where you would find the chip-on-board processor families such as the Intel Atom range on AMD Fusion, with small Solid

Netbooks usually have Windows XP, Windows 7 Basic or open source operating systems; not only does the hardware struggle to support anything more resource-intensive; Microsoft actively try to prevent the netbook being anything but basic.

The Ultrabook on the other hand is at the other end of the spectrum. Now patented by Intel, the Ultrabook is a high-end specification within the low-power notebook market and Intel increase the demand on a regular basis. For a manufacturer to be able to market a new Ultrabook they must currently be an IvyBridge architecture system (3rd Generation Core i3 or i5 processors) have USB3 and an SSD that runs at a minimum of 80MB/s transfer rate. Intel also insist on it’s own anti-theft and security software being pre-loaded as standard.


Laptops come in many shapes and sizes; the basic business laptops where the likes of IBM ThinkPads have slowly been replaced by brands like Lenovo, the desktop replacement laptop because a family just does not use the computer desk any more. The gap that the laptop fills is massive and there are some top products out there, but there are also some complete duds.

Business Laptops tend to be designed with the business customer in mind. Think of a salesman out on his rounds all day, long-battery life, high security protection, a high capacity solid-state hard drive to prevent a failure; all this goes into your standard business laptop offering. Processing power is going to be more desirable to a business laptop so you will usually find it housing a Core i5 processor or similar and the housing itself will be made of strong stuff so that it can withstand being thrown into the boot of the company car a few times a day.

Your standard laptop will be a mass-produced but subtly normal affair. A range of processors and options will make this less desirable to the business user. There will be no immediate need to have a solid state hard drive because a consumer will probably take more care of a laptop they have bought compared to a businessman who was given one. The range of laptops also comes with a range of prices to match; from budget laptops with Intel Celeron Dual Core processors through to the beefy gaming laptops that increasingly being referred to as…..

Desktop replacements; the top-end laptops that mean you don’t need a tower stuck in the corner of the room. Packing in the latest in Intel and AMD processors, it was a shame when the unique Alienware company was bought by Dell and incorporated into the Dell laptop range. Desktop replacement laptops often cost more than their desktop counterparts; it is not easy to fit an Intel i7 Quad Core CPU, 16GB of DDR3 and not a Hybrid drive, but a RAID of SSD’s with a standard 750GB HDD for the storage…. all in a laptop case.

It is only just possible, which is why the MSI GT70 is in excess of £2000 RRP, but it also had flaws as well, just like a desktop, a tablet or even a smartphone (for a start the smartphone market won’t be seeing 16GB RAM for a while!).

Desktop Computer

So we come to the reason why you came here in the first place. If after all of those you still insist that you want a computer then fine; I won’t stop you. I will try hard to teach you how to build your own though, none of the technology that we have already mentioned is that easy to build yourself unless you have an eye for detail and a lot of luck. Sure you can replace most things like for like if they fail; you might even manage to replace a CD drive with a Blu-Ray drive on a laptop, but you don’t have the options to change, upgrade, repair a  tablet like you do with a desktop computer.