Why You Don't Need a Computer

Credit: Kohei Hara / Getty Images

Technophiles and pundits have been predicting the death of the computer for a good while now, even going so far as to grandly dub our current epoch as the Post-PC era. And yet the vast majority of people in this country spend a fair chunk of their day planted firmly in front of one, eyes glazed, back cramped, hurtling relentlessly closer to carpal tunnel. For better or worse, though, tech moves insatiably forward, and so the newest generation of powerful and refined tablets, oversized "phablet” smartphones, and, crucially, companion software, make it possible for many of us to happily retire our bulky desktops and banged-up laptops for good.

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To get this settled right up front, there are undoubtedly many tasks that remain best served by a full-featured desktop or laptop, and that likely will be the case for many years to come: intensive video and audio editing, certain types of design and engineering work, and so on.

Those tasks, however, represent just a small fraction of actual users. For the rest of us, we use our sleek, pricey laptops for a pretty small suite of tasks: email, web surfing, music and video consumption, gaming, social networking, and a few productivity apps like word processing and spreadsheets. And guess what: Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, the best computers no longer hold a candle to tablets and laptops for these tasks.

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A typical tablet has a battery life of 10-plus hours and an extremely high-res Retina-style display. It usually weighs less than a pound and is the size of a magazine or smaller, and it can churn through 3D games without a blip (and without turning on fans, which it doesn't have). Plus, it generally costs $500 or less: for example, a base-level iPad Air 2, or a number of Android tablets such as the Nexus 9 or the Dell Venue 8 7000. Spec out a similarly equipped laptop, and you're into a price range that's double or triple that, while still failing to match up in terms of size and weight. A modern smartphone with a five-plus-inch screen is, for many of us, more than enough to handle our daily needs, and fits in a pocket to boot. There are dozens of options, but standouts include the iPhone 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Samsung Galaxy S6, and the Windows-based HTC One M9.

It's absurd to call the PC dead, no doubt, but for many of us, we're finally ready and able to say goodbye.