Back in the early days of personal computing, complex CAD and other applications requiring heavy lifting, used workstations. The term wasn't as generic back then as it is today. Essentially, they were just really powerful (for the day) small computers optimized for computational processing.
As PCs became more powerful, the performance gap decreased and the expense gap increased to the point where a "workstation" just became a more powerful PC.
Perhaps, that category will be returning. The gap between what many, many people need (those that can get by with a tablet) and what engineers and designers need has suddenly gotten quite large again.
My prediction is that the categories will fall out as such:
1) Personal home use computing and light corporate computing needs will be addressed by tablets and tablet/notebook hybrids.
2) Hard core gamers will have more traditional PC type systems with powerful CPUs and GPUs.
3) Engineers, and media producers will have more traditional PC type systems optimized similarly to game systems, but for commercial usage.
Category one is already at risk of replacement, even though it's not fully evolved. Not long from now it will be a person's phone wirelessly connected to dumb displays and input devices.
Categories 2 and 3 will likely keep the form factor for quite a while yet.
I am with Junko on this...tablet is a nice toy, I have it and use it for fun...but I can't do any work on it...and I am not special, I assert 90% of engineers can't do any real work on tablets, let's take a poll amoung EE Times readers!...Kris
While I don't agree that PCs are hard to use, nor that they are obsoleted every two years (not these days, anyway), I think the trend you describe (tablets becoming real PCs) has been going on for some time. Certainly with the advent of the Surface tablet. Good to see that Intel appears to be on the right track.
I have less than zero interest in tablets of the iPad sort, although a super-portable PC which can also be docked, for use beyond the mere little gadget - tiny screen -ridiculously compromised I/O - not to mention reliance on silly "apps" that no one ever needed with a PC, would be very nice. And it seems almost an obvious progression of the PC.
I think the tablet will now go from just a media consumption device to a content creation machine.
I am not entirely on board with that premise -- at least on a personal level. I love my tablet precisely because it's not capable of doing my work. When I am on my tablet, it's all play and no work. I don't even check my e-mails....