Every time I boot my notebook up to get some work done (or undone), I can’t help but ask this question to myself.
Now before I go into why laptops should be damned (if they are not already doomed), let’s try to understand how and why these devices became so popular at one point of time (not that long ago in the history of mankind).
First, these devices offered mobility- both in terms of computing and storage. It empowered us to carry our work (as well as our personal lives) with us wherever we went. They were light. They could survive for long hours without any connection to the power socket. And as technology advanced every day following Moore’s law (that’s a different topic for discussion), things only became better. The devices became lighter, got more power, more storage and could last longer without a re-charge. Apart from work, they also became our preferred gadget for entertainment. We could play games, chat with friends, listen to music, surf the Internet, and watch movies (or porn- as the case may be). In short, laptops were an indispensable part of our lives.
Then what happened? Let me give you my story. I’ve owned several laptops (running various operating systems) in my lifetime. Every time before buying a new one I would keep no stone unturned in researching about which device would give me the best performance for my budget. (I am a guy. And I don’t blame women for taking too long to shop for whatever they like to shop). And boy! Every time I brought a new laptop home, it felt like honeymoon. Working would be so fast, smooth (and fun). I would spend hours on the new machine (most of it trying to transfer my old files and emails and the rest to set up the security, networking, themes and all the junk). However, just like any other marriage, the honeymoon would soon be over. The mean and fast machines would gradually start showing signs of ageing and all the excitement would soon be over. (Thankfully there were no laws preventing me from buying and owning multiple laptops at the same time).
Today, I own a machine which takes me longer to boot than to make coffee. It is heavier to carry around than its new age cousins- tablets and smartphones. It consumes more battery. It suffers from frequent virus and other malicious attacks, which make the huge amounts of storage that come with it, completely useless. I have to maintain backups of my files on the cloud anyway. Moreover, it is no longer my sweet entertainment companion.
Someone, long time ago, had lovingly named it a laptop. But the fact is that it is not loveable any more. In fact, the lap is the last place where you’d want to keep this device if you have the slightest desire of propagating your species. And if you are a geek and don’t care about such petty stuff like the future of your kind (true, you have wonderful hands to serve you through thick and thin), you still need to be warned. Or else you might not see the light at the end of the tunnel (which a lot of medical professionals call the carpal tunnel).
Now, all this said, would I still use a laptop? To answer this question, let’s consider what my alternatives are. Yes. I use a smart phone and a tablet for most of my computing and entertainment needs that don’t require me to do a lot of typing. I admit, I am not good at fingering electronic devices. And probably just to express their dissatisfaction with my incompetence, they simply ignore my not-so-accented English voice commands. As a result, I am still stuck with my laptop. But it is like a failing marriage. And I am just waiting to find that something which can take care of all my (computing) needs better than my laptop.