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Desktop vs. laptop
Old 05-15-2014, 12:11 PM   #1
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Desktop vs. laptop

My son offered me a new computer. He asked me did I prefer a desktop or laptop.I have always used a desktop with a large widescreen monitor.

I would not take a laptop that was my main computer to a coffee house, or abroad, or anywhere else that I might lose it or have it stolen. He said that I can continue to use my mouse and keyboard and wide screen monitor, but it seems likely that I would never disconnect these to use the laptop at other locations in the room. It would make some alternating of standing with sitting easier if it was quick enough to make the switch..

The other function I would like is to be able to use the pronouncing foreign dictionaries on the web, away from my desk, either at home or elsewhere I have a number of print dictionaries, but even the largest of these is inferior to a good web dictionary.

One thing I have considered is sticking with the desktop, but separately have a notebook or a tablet for dictionary and web surfing when I don't want to be stuck at my desk.

Any ideas you could share?

Ha
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:21 PM   #2
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Really is a personal choice, and like alot of things tech, it comes down to what tools you need and how you plan to use them. Really, if you are only using a portable device (netbook, tablet, laptop) for email and web-browsing as well as reading an occasional e-book, then there is more than enough computing power to do the job in a portable device. If you price it out, desk-tops have come down so far in price that the costs of a high-end desk-top plus a tablet (Android, FIRE or Jellybean) are cheaper than a laptop + docking station + monitor.

That can give you the best of both worlds and if you use (for example) Google Chrome as your web browser, you can sync up the desktop and portable device to have common bookmarks, browsing history, preferences, etc. Really very easy to do.
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:42 PM   #3
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Here are my musings about the question of laptops vs desktops.

I have had a desktop computer for decades, and a laptop computer only since the end of the last century.

Yet, I hardly ever turn on my desktop computer.

I don't take my laptop computer out of the house, or even to another room. I use it like a very lightweight desktop computer. I used it at my easy chair, in front of the TV so that I can be comfortable, with my feet up and with the TV on in the background if I want. I have a wireless router so I could use it at my desk if I wanted to, but I never want to do that. (If I am away from home and want to look up a word in an online dictionary or post on the forum, I use my smartphone).

When my desktop computer finally croaks I do not intend to replace it. Laptop computers have become quite powerful and my laptop can do more than my older desktop.
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:54 PM   #4
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I've used both a desktop and laptop for years but my desktop died 1 year ago and doubt I will ever get another one, just use laptops now. There is just so much more flexibility with a laptop, can use it anywhere in the house you want, have it with you when you travel, etc. I use a laptop locking cable when I'm traveling, it's a good deterrent but it won't stop someone who really wants it and has the time. In 15 years traveling with a laptop for both business and pleasure I've never had one lost or stolen. Is your concern of having it stolen or lost mainly for security reasons, someone getting your data? There is encryption software (bitlocker) that comes in versions of Windows 7 and 8 that would make it difficult if not impossible for someone to get your data. And of course always keep an up to date backup of your data.
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Old 05-15-2014, 01:03 PM   #5
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I think a tablet, or maybe even smartphone would be a better choice for the portable use you want - a decent laptop is still kind of big and a pain to carry around, unless you really need the big screen and keyboard while out and about to make that worthwhile.

I like using a laptop as my 'desktop' computer. I have the option of adding an external monitor, which gives me lots of screen space when I want it (laptop screen plus external monitor). Although I don't do it often, it can be nice to be able to unplug and carry it somewhere if I need. My new laptop has HDMI out, and I was shocked at how clear the display is on our 55" TV.

Maybe not a big consideration for others, but I also like the idea that it is easier for me to re-purpose an old laptop. It is self contained, so I can put it in another room and use it as a music player, or some other simple tasks and it doesn't take up a lot of space or need a bunch of cables.

Neither of those are a big deal for most, so either way should be fine (just make sure the new device can connect to an old monitor). But seriously think about a small tablet for your truly portable needs.

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Old 05-15-2014, 02:27 PM   #6
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I've used both a desktop and laptop for years but my desktop died 1 year ago and doubt I will ever get another one, just use laptops now. There is just so much more flexibility with a laptop, can use it anywhere in the house you want, have it with you when you travel, etc.
+1. I when I get all my software moved over I will be phasing out the desk top. I put the lap top on a stand and used a wireless keyboard so I could have the keyboard in an ergonomically correct spot, and it works fine. I don't see a reason for me to ever go back to a desk top.

My stand is actually a metal shelf rack from Bed, Bath and Beyond I had sitting in the garage. It turned out to be the perfect size and height for the lap top.

As an added plus, the lap tops use less energy.

When we want a big screen, we can hook the lap tops to the big screen TV with an HDMI cable and use the wireless keyboard and mouse as the remote control.
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Old 05-15-2014, 02:32 PM   #7
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My first few computers were all desktops. Now, I don't even own a desktop anymore. Sold my last one on Craigslist. I carry my laptop all over the house, and if I travel, I take it with me to use at the hotel or wherever I'm staying...mom's house, daughter's house etc. I've also used my laptop in airports, and at a couple of work-related training classes. Can't see a reason to get another desktop. Individual preferences, of course.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:03 PM   #8
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Personally I am happy with a desktop + tablet combo. I can't think of any additional need a laptop could fulfill for me.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:12 PM   #9
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I have both a desktop and a notebook and like having both. They do different things for me.

Reasons I like my desktop:

1. I use large (26") dual monitors with it. I like being able to say have this forum on one screen and then have what I'm working on or playing on the other monitor.

2. Desktop is far more powerful and faster than the notebook. Video card is better, processor is better, etc.

3. I can upgrade stuff on the desktop without replacing it. Upgrading stuff on a notebook is either impossible, extremely expensive, or tedious in most instances (there are exceptions but the general rule holds).

4. The desktop is great for setting up in a permanent location with my monitors, my nice keyboard and gaming mouse and having a place for everything. It can be moved, of course, but I don't often move it.

5. Desktop has a DVD drive in it so I can watch DVD movies, copy stuff to a DVD to archive it, install the few programs still on DVD, and use other stuff that comes on DVD.

6. Desktop has way more ports than my notebook has. I can keep a lot of stuff attached to the ports without having to switch stuff around. With the notebook I only have a few USB ports so it is more challenging if I want to hook up a keyboard and mouse and still hook up my Fitbit dongle or charger, for example.

Why I also have a notebook:

1. The notebook is nice if I want to casually do some stuff in my bedroom or sitting in the sofa. Or if I want to look something up right there. For example, if I'm cooking from a recipe on the internet, I can just take the notebook into the kitchen.

2. The notebook I have (Lenovo2 Pro) can be used as a tablet as well as a regular notebook. It is also touchscreen which is nice for certain uses (watching movies, playing Hearthstone).

3. When I was walking I built a simple treadmill desk and I could put the notebook on the desk and use it walking on the treadmill, but then it was easy to move it somewhere else later.

4. Great to have when I occasionally travel.

Why my iPad doesn't substitute for my notebook:

I love my iPad and use it a lot to read books and very casual web surfing. But not all programs I use can be used on the iPad. Also, while it is fine for casual web surfing or consumption of media, it is not as good with actually doing heavier work on it. The notebook does that nicely.

Bottom line

The notebook is fine but is very limited in how I use my computer. I like having my dual monitors and having a more powerful computer. I'm willing to spend a fair amount on my desktop computer. A notebook is much more limited to me since it doesn't have the power of the desktop. But, it is a nice to have. I don't spend a lot of money on a notebook since it is more limited use for me.

A couple of times I tried to get one of the behemoth notebooks that are huge (17" screens) and more powerful and are desktop replacements. I found that they were still more limited than a real desktop and didn't have the portability of a true notebook so I didn't like them.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:22 PM   #10
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First computer a desktop, Radio Shack TRS-80! I have had desktops, laptops, luggables, tablets, cell phones, programmable calculators and just about every other kind of computer you could think of. I currently use a desktop with the monitor mounted on an old speaker, beside my lazyboy. I use it while the tv is on, and I use it with a wireless mouse and keyboard. Everything is linked wifi, including the color laser printer. I have an HP 11 inch notebook that goes with me when I travel. I have an IPad Mini which i use most of the time, along with the Iphone for email, and an occasional game of sudoku. DW uses a laptop as her primary computer, with an IPad as her portable choice.

Of the three the laptop is the one I would do away with first. I can do almost everything on the IPad I can do on the desktop. However editing web pages is easier on the laptop. Also, if I need to download files away from home, the laptop is my choice, hands down. Would I replace the desktop if it went out? I really don't know. Most likely, but that is just because I like the speed and power of the desktop.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:28 PM   #11
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I have a primary desktop, and will switch over to a faster desktop in the near future. On that system is the crown jewels, so to speak. I have archives of important data there.

I used a laptop for a while, maybe 2 years. It got me through school and a few trips. It sits in the living room now, and we use it to stream media.

For me, the go-to device is a 10-inch nexus tablet. I often wander from living room to office, and even to the backyard with it. A tablet is a perfect complement to the other devices. I even take it on consulting treks.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:31 PM   #12
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Personally I am happy with a desktop + tablet combo. I can't think of any additional need a laptop could fulfill for me.
+1. I have an office where I do most of my financial work with a computer desk, filing cabinet and office chair. I also have music, radio and a TV so no need to go anywhere else most of the time. When I need portable I use a tablet.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:42 PM   #13
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As FIREd suggests, a desktop plus a tablet is an ideal combination. It is easier and less expensive to extend the life of a desktop (vs laptop) by swapping or adding memory and hard disk.
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Old 05-15-2014, 03:47 PM   #14
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I'll probably never get a desktop again. We haven't had a desktop in the house for years. For the stuff I do (email, web, Quicken, etc) a laptop is fine and I like that I can use it in the living room, at my desk, a spare counter or wherever I want to.

While I have traveled with mine, these days I tend to take our tablet when travelling.
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:31 PM   #15
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I was sure I'd never replace my desktop again. But when it died earlier this year, and I looked seriously, the best choice for me was a desktop and a tablet (iPad). If portability for serious work was a primary need I'd have gotten a laptop, but it's secondary. For me, the desktop was
  • much cheaper, even with a new monitor (than a laptop with comparable performance),
  • way more reliable/serviceable/expandable, and
  • it's great to have a large (23" 16:9 monitor in my case).
When I need portability, my iPad will do anything I need including spreadsheets, word processing and presentations. YMMV

DW has a laptop, so I guess we have all the bases covered between us.
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:52 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
One thing I have considered is sticking with the desktop, but separately have a notebook or a tablet for dictionary and web surfing when I don't want to be stuck at my desk.

Any ideas you could share?

Ha
I've seen people use laptop, and hook it up to a large screen to use as desktop.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:15 PM   #17
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Desk top if you are REALLY serious.....laptop w/decent components for most people is the best......tablet for the internet addicted....
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:28 PM   #18
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As another data point, a laptop or desktop sitting next to a 42" or bigger TV, used as the screen, and a wireless keyboard/mouse from the couch is possible too.

In my experience if you choose a laptop, 17" is way to heavy and a 15" screen works just fine. Solid State Disk, HDMI connector, USB 3, etc all that discussion might make for another thread to cover the +/-.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:31 PM   #19
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You can get a docking station to make disconnecting your laptop from your monitor, full sized keyboard, etc, quick and easy.

As far as the dual monitor goes, a laptop is ideal for this as you can easily use your laptop display as one of the monitors.

A desktop will probably be more powerful and upgradeable than a laptop, and a hard drive will last longer just because you won't be moving it around while its on like you do a laptop (unless you go with a solid state drive).

I like the portability of a laptop around the house and when traveling over a desktop. I opted for a 17" screen so my laptop is big and barely fits in my laptop case for travel, but I usually take my Kindle for travel now anyway, so I just want the home portability. My wireless printer means I can print from anywhere in the house, and I use a wireless "couch" mouse so I don't have to use the touchpad, so I really don't feel like I'm a substandard setup on my laptop.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:47 PM   #20
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I primarily use a desktop with a 23" monitor to do my financial work, other spreadsheets and to surf the internet. I like the large screen to watch netflix movies at times. I also have a laptop that I use as the portable device around the house and for travel and since I use Firefox as my browser I'm able to sync my favorites on both computers.
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