Column: We're Not Living in a Post-PC Era

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jbcava

The pc era is far from dead. The problem with the last few years is the lack of anything exciting to justify the need to do any major builds. Aside from improvements in tablets and smartphones and, of course the corresponding operating system enhancements - the technology era we live in today is frankly boring. With amd being unable to compete with intel on high end CPUs the drive for major innovation has dramatically slowed down. SSD's are frankly the biggest pc related item that I got excited about. What is shocking is the price they're still asking for a 256 gb drive. Newegg still has the performance drives selling above $1.00 per gig. That just bullshit! Prices are artificial and frankly to damn expensive for technology that hasn't improved significantly enough to justify the means. Pcs won't go away because businesses need them. It's way to hard to perform multi-tasking jobs where several applications running in tandem are needed to perform job duties. Tablets have there roll in the work place and serve many functions but the pc is definitely for the heavy lifting. I prefer using my computer for emails or heavy web browsing, playing games, etc but, my tablet is for the simple browsing, reading emails, screwing around on Facebook. Lastly, games are far more attractive on a pc - plain and simple on the graphics front. How cool is it to have multiple screens, consoles don't give you that!
What makes consoles lucrative is the ability to be cost effective, mobile if needed, and multi-user capabilities; which pcs sorely lack. Consoles bring big games to the big screen with ease, but even those technologies are aging. Why is Xbox just now getting blue-ray?

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praack

i love the comments of how a pc is not needed in a household-

how many students do thier papers for school on a thier ipads or heaven forbid- thier phones?

get real- you still need them, you might not need one if your house hold plays animal farm and angry birds and watches u tube- but if you push anything else i don't doubt every once in a while someone is booting up the notebook or the pc

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wolfing

well, depends on what you consider the 'post-PC' era. I do think we are in a 'post-PC' era, as PCs (and by PC I mean desktop/laptop PC) are not necessary in a household anymore. If you consider 'post-PC' as a time where there is no need for PCs at all then yes, that time will never happen, but as PCs being necessary for every household as it'd been since pretty much 1986 or so, that is indeed happening.

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AFDozerman

This could actually be a good time for the PC. Somebody has to produce all of the content that these content consumption devices use. I know from playing around with the story maker app on my z10 that it is severely less than optimal. There just isn't enough screen real estate and the power of a cell phone won't be anywhere near what is needed for a while now. That isn't even considering the power needed for 3d modeling and raytracing. And gaming? Don't even get me started!

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wumpus

You could have made a killing in 1992 by betting on IBM. I'm sure with the rise of PCs all those mainframes would have endless amounts of work, if only as servers.

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ShyLinuxGuy

As Lenovo said, we are in a PC-plus era. Tablets and mobile devices are compliments to the desktop or laptop PC, which are typically used when someone doesn't need full-size processing power, screen size, a physical keyboard or whatever.

Laptops are more and more like desktops in a portable package (I'm not talking about the cheap $299 ones), and tablets are more flexible to bring along. Basically these devices are for consumption, not for creation. There are some people without a traditional desktop or laptop, just an iPad or an Android tablet.

I frequently find myself doing both--at the same time--so a laptop works when I don't need to use my desktop. I don't see myself ever buying a tablet (though I like the Nexus and Transformer somewhat), and my Android smartphone doesn't really get used for anything beyond texting.

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jgottberg

I don't really believe that the PC will ever just die (god, I hope not) but at the same time, there has to be something to the notion that it just isn't as important to the masses as it once was.

Obviously, we are enthusiasts so we will upgrade, build, re-build, configure and reconfigure anything we get our hands on but for 90% of the people out there, they want to change their FB status and watch them some Netflix. You don't need a $1200 PC to do that anymore.

The fact that I always see articles on this website stating that "PC's are NOT dead!" and the like does add credence to the fact that are in decline. They don't write "The tablet is dying" articles for a reason, because they aren't. As with most things tech though, it's cyclical. Today's tablet is tomorrow's Google Glass or something and then they WILL be writing the death of the tablet articles. And once again, albeit in fewer numbers, the venerable PC will still be there...

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Aquineas

I always hated the term "fat client" as well, and years ago insisted on calling it a "full-featured" client. I admit that the line is being blurred with HTML5 and RIA apps and the like, but those applications will still suffer compared to a dedicated client that doesn't need to download rendering code every time it runs.

If you want to consume content, then tablets, phablets, and smartphones are adequate. If you want to create content, then you need a PC, or, dare I say it, a Mac (which is pretty much a PC running Next).

We aren't buying PCs now because there hasn't been a big enough jump in performance to justify the cost of upgrade for the last few generations now. As usual, games are driving the PC technology curve, and it becomes practical to upgrade to a new video card rather than buy a whole new machine when our own personal technology limit is approached.

When there's a big enough gap between the processing power or power demands on our existing desktops and that shiny new thing from Intel or AMD (yes, AMD), then we'll upgrade. The $100,000 question is, what is that gap? If I were to wager a guess, I'd guess it to be somewhere north of 30 percent.

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jbwhite99

Gordon,

Lenovo's term for this period is PC+. While the bulk of revenues come from PCs, they realize that a lot of people want to consume content on a phone, tablet, or TV. Lenovo is already #3 in connected devices (selling cell phones in emerging markets like Russia, India, China, Africa, and Indonesia).

But that doesn't mean they have stopped on PC development - they introduced like 6 new machines yesterday.

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PCWolf

Most of the idiots proclaiming the End of the PC are either idiotic analysts with tunnel vision or clueless users who believe the tablet hype. My Tablet if for on the go fun, but my Monster PC is where things get done & no underpowered McWeaksauce Tablet with a touch screen will ever replace it.

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wumpus

Most of the idiots proclaiming the next big anything are clueless marketing parrots who would rather reword the last press release they received than think for themselves. Less ways to shoot themselves in the foot, really.

The real problem is just how few people really need a computer to "get things done". A real keyboard certainly helps even light email, but past that few users really need a full blown desktop. I'm sure the PC will still be available for sale, but don't expect even the glacial technology advances we've seen in the last decade, and probably price increases as the market steadily shrinks.

Note that much of the reason the "PC is dead" is because the PC works just fine, so few people are buying new PCs. Anything bought that has a core2duo in it will do everything but run crysis[3] (and just add a GTX 760 to do that). Everybody wants the latest shiny phone/tablet/whatever, and besides that mobile and laptop gear tends to be replaced more often simply due to the vastly higher opportunities for abuse that mobile gear gets than something stuck on the desktop forever.

Things to think about (how to buy a "post-PC" PC):

Real displays:
I could probably live with a HD (preferably 4k) "TV*" as a monitor. I suppose the high end really wouldn't change either (they will keep buying PCs).

CPUs: Haswel already *is* a post-PC CPU. Hopefully at least some of the CPUs out there can be clocked and powered a bit higher at the cost of some heat/amperage.

GPUs: See CPUs. I'm pretty sure that a market for non-mobile GPUs will exist, if only to connect iOS/Android/post-PC-windows-box to a "TV".

Keyboard/mouse: I have no fear of the death of keyboards and mice. Cheap keyboards and mice might be an issue, but they should still plug into tablets and other things just fine.

Power supplies/cases: might be a little tricky to find, but since they won't use that much more power than the mobile parts they are based on it won't make much of a difference. Might look a bit like an Ouya (hopefully some will have 3.5" bays. Vendors: Note the plural. RAID 5 needs at least 3).

Consumer bulk 3.5" hard drives: Here's the rub. Nothing in the mobile [post-PC] space wants to use spinning hard drives (laptops are our best bets). Then there are always idiots who want to give all their data to google/microsoft/amazon to "hold" it for them (I wonder how much of a cloud business the NSA has through other names). I'd hate to have to pay for server-grade SAS drives after a long life of consumer IDE/SATA drives.

* "TV" gets scare quotes due the death of NTSC and the irrelevance of broadcast signal vs. all other media displayed on it (and even low significance of non-timeshifted cable). It is still a TV, but nothing like the 20th century device that gave it the name (which did stay the same for much of its life, VCRs and Ataris nonwithstanding). The problem is that making a "TV" a TV is simply a matter of attaching a tuner. Making a tablet a PC is mostly adding a large screen, keyboard, and mouse, but there are always other issues (the hard drive looks the biggest).

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mitcoes

I think x86_64 desktop computers are very alive but we do not need to buy a new one so often. And almost everybody has buyed it, is a mature market.

Tablets and smartphones are a new market, a complementary product for PCs and for some persons without need of a PC the easy to use device to connect with the internet.

As UNIX and AS400 where at almost any enterprise server and many clients switched to MS WOS and now servers are mostly running Linux and clients are switching to Linux desktops - avoiding preinstalled intruders - markets are always changing and even the typewriter lasted a lot after the PC arrived.

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vrmlbasic

I can't watch 4K videos on any device I have, not because my PC can't handle them but because I don't have a 4K screen. I could downscale them to 2K but then that doesn't put my PC much above a tablet as an iPad can also play 2K video. Perhaps it couldn't downscale 4K to 2K in "real time", I don't know, but even if it can't, that's not much of a distinction. Point being, I'm not sure why 4K video is a point here when we don't have 4K screens in abundance, short of putting 2 1080 monitors together. I agree with the article, though. IMO living in the post-PC world would be worse than living before the existence of the PC.

From the language of the opener, I'm not sure if you are a fan of the death tax or not lol.

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majorsuave

Agreed. Except you would have to put 4 1080 monitors for 4K (two by two).

Right now, 4K is beyond reach from the honest masses.

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John Pombrio

Up and at 'em Gordon! It's not that we love having a big box sucking up 300 watts sitting next to us, it's the large monitor, the full sized keyboard that has been tested for 35+ years, the mouse that has been improving for as long, the ability to edit videos, play music, write a byline, wander the internet, store a thousand movies, and play Skyrim without a frustration inducing wait.
When the internet can deliver this kind of experience with the ability to locally back it up, keep my private files err private, play a A+ game at a decent frame rate, high resolutions and low lag, and do real work on the device, then I will buy into the "cloud" hype. Tablets and smart phones are not that smart and will not be for years.

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Renegade Knight

I remember all the Post PC fanboi's jumping all over that and telling everone who would listen the end of the PC is nigh. Then I went and read what their hero actually said. His version of the Post PC era was that there would be PC's but not everone would need them. They would become like trucks.

Then I had to stop and laugh at the cute little antics of the Post PC false prophets.

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Engelsstaub

That's because people don't understand the meaning of Post PC or post-anything for that matter. It doesn't mean that PCs are dead or even dying. It means that devices have taken the place of many tasks that we once could only accomplish on a PC. Nothing more/nothing less. PCs continue to exist and are needed for heavy workloads...just like that truck..

We live in a postindustrial society. That does not mean that industry has ceased or ceased to be important. IOW: people are in need of basic literacy and language proficiency a/k/a "fucking stupid."

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InfiniteImp

Well written and I agree. It's all about branding. If you want your new device to be branded as the next cool thing then the current thing has to be less cool, or outdated. So, let's call it the "Post PC" era to tell everyone that it's the past and the tablet is the present/future. Tablets are about media consumption. Great device for looking at YouTube videos on, or for the kids to watch movies on long car rides, maybe some quick emails, etc. For anything serious, the PC is here to stay. You're not going to be doing multi-monitor desktop work on your tablet. Tablets (and whatever eventually replaces them) will continue to co-exist along with PCs. As long as there's actual computing to be done, it'll be done on the desktop.

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joeyjr

Rant on Gordon, I am with you!!! Portable devices give us more options to the computing experence. Desktop power is even becoming more portable. I like the idea of being able to custom build my PC's too do what I want them to do and the power they give me. The Cloud may give more options to portables, but the smaller devices can not compair to a large screen or multi monitor setup with a desktop. Marketing fallacies will not sway me from what I like and gaming with 5.1 surround sound on a large 1080p or better screen.

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gfd

Finally somebody jumped off the bandwagon and pointed out that not everybody is going to be consuming content on oversized cell phones all of the time.

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Micro Geek

God bless you, Gordon you are my hero.

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limitbreaker

Which God? I personally like Apollo.

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aarcane

All the problems you mention will be SOLVED in a post-PC world. Only then will we truly achieve post-PC status. When that time comes, I'll relish it, rather than revile it.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Cool story, bro.

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yammerpickle2

Intel and MS are not really giving the old desktop PC their old bread and butter much love with all the fancy new thin hand held devices that are all the rage these days. It is easy to see how the tiny super model, or low slung sports car looks cool and have their place. That is until you want to build a house or get some other work done. Then that heavy set construction work and his Super Duty pick up truck comes out and shows you how to get the job done. What do you think is going to make the content for all those other devices, yep the old desktop PC, mouse, and keyboard. I just wish Intel, and MS would figure that out too.

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