I had recently written about what I perceive to be the false notion of console gaming holding PC gaming back (and, frankly, with a recent release like L.A. Noire and future releases like Skyrim, again, it's hard to make that argument outside of a purely superficial (audio/visual) - not contentual - standpoint). Perhaps, as this new article puts forth, it's not consoles, but tablets, that the traditional PC industry has more to worry about?
Of course, as far as I'm concerned, we're actually still at least a few years off from that happening, at least until Apple breaks the required link between their iOS devices and a computer equipped with iTunes (and that's a question of "when", not "if"). Android devices are of course close to completely breaking free of the computer tether, but there are other issues for those classes of devices to overcome first. Other tablet OS's, present and future, are probably somewhere in-between the two.
Interestingly, there's a girl here at my day job who had bought an iPad 2 about a month back and then recently got an iPhone 4, but was frustrated that there was no way to copy what was on her iPad 2 (purchases) over to the iPhone 4. You see, she considers her computer horribly outdated and really didn't want to go through iTunes on her rickety old PC! Obviously, very flawed thinking, but it's very interesting what the non-techies have in their thought processes (and in this case how she wants to basically compute outside of work exclusively on the iPad 2 and iPhone 4)... Definitely a paradigm shift of some type! In any case, it's the old argument that it's not so much computers that are being challenged, it's the limited generalized definition of what a computer is that is being challenged. Does a computer really mean that desktop or laptop many of use a good portion of the day? Sure, but that's not all it means. As an iPad 2 user - outside of the tethering restriction for the occasional iTunes sync - I can argue that my tablet is as much of a computer as most desktops and laptops, with strikingly similar functionality (and in some cases, then some).
Ultimately, I think it's clear we're all headed to a connected eco-system of devices, where a lot of stuff is in the cloud, with minimal need for local storage. You'll simply use whatever device is handy or whatever is best suited to a particular task (say a touch screen or a keyboard). We even already have brilliantly functional cloud gaming services (and of course, VOD, like Netflix), so, outside of artificial bandwidth restrictions by ISP's, there's little reason to think that the future has anything to do with increasingly more powerful traditional computers. For some of us who have been in love with technology since our earliest memories, this is a tough sell, but it's hard to argue that's not where we're headed, and perhaps it's just as hard to argue that it's even a bad a thing. I'm sure even the most hardcore among us have tired of the upgrade/incompatibility/instability cycle at some point, if only briefly.
There's an interesting piece by Mercury News Columnist, Troy Wolverton, boldly titled, The PC's reign is ending, where he basically states that this is the beginning of the end of the PC's dominance as our primary computing device. This is the same basic premise as "PC gaming is dying", which we all know is an overblown idea that's been run up the flagpole since the 90's, but, as with that well-worn mantra, I have to agree there's some truth to the concept when it's not taken strictly as a sensationalistic headline. After all, many of us, myself included, have smartphones that perform the majority of functions we used to need powerful desktop or laptop computers for, effectively replacing them in a surprising number of situations.
Luckily, the article is not as superficial as the headline and opening, and does in fact make the point we've made around here time and again, that the reality is a computer by any other name is still a computer. So while it may not be a big gray tower under your desk or a clamshell notebook with a full stroke keyboard in your briefcase, it's really just an evolution of the form factor and more specific functional repurposing (e.g., a smartphone being designed around making calls first, or a videogame console being designed around playing games). The reality is when you factor in things like smartphones and now, tablets, computers are more explosively dominant than ever and will continue on such an upward trajectory until we reach the point of complete saturation and actual disposable computing devices. It's said everything will eventually have a microchip, and really, we're not that far off. I for one welcome our new computing overlords, no matter what shape they take or by what other category we try to place them in.
Since I've had a chance to actually play some games on platforms like the PC, Xbox 360, Wii, iPhone, and PS3 lately, I thought I would share some quick thoughts. After reading, why don't you share some of your own thoughts on those games or some of what you're playing?
Well, as many of you know, after a two year+ wait with no ETA in sight, I decided to cancel my Pandora pre-order and put those funds towards the best gaming laptop I could reasonably afford. Now, I know that getting a desktop would be both more powerful and cheaper than getting a laptop, but the reasons why I decided on a gaming laptop rather than a gaming desktop are many. For one, I already bought a quality HP TouchSmart PC desktop not too long ago as my main PC and maxed that out, with the only downside of the system being the on-board video, which I was unable to upgrade, as previously detailed. In other words, it does everything I need a desktop PC to do, save for anything that requires discrete video, like non-casual gaming. Next, my oldest daughter's old HP laptop kicked the bucket, and she is presently without a system. My laptop has been an older Gateway Tablet PC for some time (in fact, it was my main system until it died from heat exhaustion (since repaired) and I replaced it with that HP), which I also maxed out, but it is now too long in the tooth to game (and is missing modern-day niceties like HDMI out). However, it will be a perfect laptop for my daughter, and her being 5 going on 6, I thought it preferable to get myself a new system and hand her down my still perfectly functional Gateway (especially since her 4 year old sister - who will surely also use it - is a terror). In other words, instead of having to get her a cheap laptop (and no, netbooks don't have the required resolution for Web games like Webkinz, ironically), it seemed more logical to spend a bit more on something fitting my needs and do the hand-me-down thing. Next, having something both portable - since I can't ever guarantee I can sit in any one place for any length of time - and with the latest connectivity options, gives all kinds of flexibility that a desktop simply wouldn't offer me (again, HDMI out in conjunction with HDTV will prove very useful). Finally, since I need to give my Gateway laptop to my daughter anyway, I'd prefer not to be without a portable workstation, since you never know when such a thing can come in handy (I suppose my work Thinkpad laptop might have been an option in a pinch, but it's preferable not to mix too much personal with business).
After a considerable amount of research and shopping around, including with Alienware and budget brands like Asus, I found that by far the best deals were with Sager, whose laptops hands-down have the best gaming-centric options for the best price. Depending upon model and whatever incentives they happen to be offering, you can get anywhere from 1.5x to 2x the bang for the buck that you can anywhere else (Sager notebooks are available direct and also from a variety of resellers). So, with budget, feature-set and overall bang-for-the-buck taken into consideration, I settled on the Sager NP8760-S1. The specs are pretty good: