Anyone whose in college probably has a very strong relationship with a certain inanimate object, their laptop. You carry it to class, take it with you to your internship, use it to stream Netflix, and in general you keep it no more than a few feet away at any particular time. This was the case for me, but since then I’ve seen a certain disintermediation of the most expensive computer I’ve ever purchased, my 2008, aluminum uni-body, Macbook and it’s been a very positive change.
My primary computer is now a desktop Compaq Presario SR1150NX (circa 2003) with a 3200+ AMD Athlon Processor with 1 gigabyte of ram, a 160 gigabyte hard drive and integrated VIA graphics card running Linux Mint 12, Cinnamon desktop edition alongside the latest long term release of Ubuntu, as well as Slax 6 and 7 on separate USB drives. Any Windows applications such as Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010, I run on any Linux distribution utilizing Crossover for Linux or Wine. It’s by no means a powerhouse, but it does everything that I need it to do and it’s a testament to the value of Linux.
To get back to the point at hand, whenever I intend on doing any intensive work, such as typing anything past 500 words, I turn to my desktop. It’s a habit that really forces you to focus because unlike working on a laptop in virtually any location, the action of sitting down at a desktop flips a certain switch in your mind. It’s the same reason why people who work from home or telecommute, still get dressed up in the morning. It’s a mental cue, a heuristic.
Whenever I’m not on my desktop, I’m on my tablet. On my tablet, I’m limited in what I can do. I use to consume my news, read through e-mail, update my calendar, and to keep my contacts organized and for what it’s worth, the Blackberry Playbook is really great for those uses. Everything syncs up to Google, which syncs over to my desktop. The bottom line is that even when I travel, I don’t take my laptop with my unless there’s a specific reason why I would need it. My travel bag typically consists of my Android smartphone, my Blackberry Playbook, and a notepad. In conjunction, I also take a spare battery for my Android phone, charging cables, and video out cables. That’s it. With the Blackberry Playbook, I have Documents to Go as well as a micro HDMI cable out for displaying video on an external monitor or projector as well as Powerpoint presentations.
It’s interesting because for the longest time it’s sort of been accepted that traditional desktop computers would be replaced by laptop computers, but I predict that desktop computers will continue to thrive because of legacies, multimedia professionals, and gamers. Further, tablets will continue to take away from the share of laptop computer users. My two takeaways is, number one, that forcing yourself to use a desktop can lead you to be more focused and increase your productivity. Secondly, a fully functional tablet can lessen your travel load. Whenever possible, simplify your digital life to the bare essentials.