Word! In another thread, someone mentioned that this year's Black Friday computer specials involved costlier but higher performance machines. I feel that reflects how tablets and smartphones have been displacing low-end PC's, not mid-level and high performance (or business) PC's especially laptops.
This is even reflected at Apple, where the plastic-cased Macbook was ended when the Macbook Air came out, and they kept the Macbook Pro. (Disclaimer: I use a BYOD dual boot MBP with OS X and Windows 7, for personal and work respectively, and can travel for business with just one computer! And I run ESL SystemC simulations on Windows 7.)
PC's will certainly continue to exist in the workplace. However desktop PC's are way too slow for serious engineering work. All of the real work I do is done on large clusters of servers that sit in a room on the other side of the world. I often keep 20+ expensive servers busy for hours on end... My laptop is simply used for typing, so anything that can connect to a keyboard would be good enough.
that is an interesting aspect of our current place in computing. I saw many engineers who still needed monsters on their desk, but admittedly those were mainly mechanical engineers. Some things could be offloaded to a cluster (structural analysis) but the rest required that they have a machine capable of rendering complex structures right there.
It has been years since I had a computer whose speed impressed me. I'd love to have a computer that was quick and snappy at and ordinary computing and basic operations (open a local folder or open a web page on a very high speed connection). Everytime I buy a new laptop and pay a little extra for the extra memory and fast disk drive, the operating system has become even more bloated and the net result is a system that is not substantially faster than my old one. I suppoose if I bought a Linux server for my personal computing I wouldn't be complaining about speed - but I'd be suffering from compatibility issues with my colleagues.
My first personal computer in 1979 - a Commodore CBM 8032 (80 column screen version of the Commodore PET) was the fastest personal computer I've ever seen. It really made me believe that electrons were faster than neurons. The bright green letters on a black screen were easy to read but graphics were very primitive.
I had a Sinclair Spectrum around 1983 and same thing - almost instant boot. And I could get pretty much everything I wanted done on that primitive thing. I wonder how much we have really progressed.....
All this reminiscing about the old machines that were so much faster is interesting. How much could you do on that old DOS PC or Sinclair. For engineering work today, you need the graphics and advanced software applications that take a much more powerful machine. The processors, memory and disc have increased in performance exponentially, but then so have our demands on them. I always used to say, "I wish I had a Cray on my desk."
@daleste - in no way am I saying we should not progress. But Windows these days is full of features I and 90% of users will never use. I'd rather have a stripped-down version that does what I want and does not take 4 or 5 minutes to finish loading. As an example, I stuck to Windows 3.11 until the standard machine was a Pentium 300MHz or so, and W311 screamed along on that. Your comments about a Cray on your desk prove my point. I always wish now that I had something bigger, better and faster too. Much more than I did in the old Dos days.
David - re: "switch on to DOS prompt in about 6 seconds"
I've taken a step back there. I recently bought an Acer C720 Chromebook. It's on and ready to go in roughly six seconds. Not only that, but the battery life actually seems to meet the ~ eight hour claim. This one certainly isn't going to replace my workstation, but it will likely take over much of my witing work (I'm using it now).
I was originally looking for a tablet to give me a bit more mobility when writing, but this thing is head and shoulders above any tablet I looked at. This is a real computer.
Next, I need to try it out with the mbed online IDE. I've heard rumor on a cloud-based IDE for Microchip PIC processors, but I haven't found it yet.
@Duane - I WANT ONE!!! I don't do a lot of stuff that is PC intensive and if I can get a USB drive for my reams of PDF dataheets etc then I am sure it would suit me fine. Thanks for that, I will see if I can find one around here.
I just put together a nice desktop system with a 256G Samsung 840 Pro SSD and a 1TB WD Black HDD. Both are awesome; the systems boots really fast on the superfast SSD, the HDD is pretty fast for a HDD, and gives me plenty of affordable storage, for 1/8th the price of a 1T SSD. It's important back up HDDs and SSDs: SSDs have signficant failure rates (just look at Newegg SSD feedback).
For my next portable system, I'm heavily leaning towards a Win 8.1 tablet with keyboard, such as a Dell Venue 11 Pro; I want OK performance with long battery life, light weight, and a decent keyboard. But that's not happening for a while.
The Chrome book is a good compromise for a quick computer if you don't need the high performance. Most of the stuff we do these days doesn't need the performance. We can always offload the compute intesive tasks to a server. I would be afraid of Acer just due to past experience. Still have one next to me that the mother board in the laptop died after 13 months...
What about the chromebook commercial where it can't get you to LA only to Reno? I guess low cost is good for us.