Do you need a laptop computer?

I’m a computer junkie. I’ve had a computer since I was about eight years old. Before that, I used to stand in the computer section of Sears, pining for the chance to play the Pac-Man clone. However, as much as I love computers, I held out a long time before moving up to a laptop.

In fact, even though I was consulting in the 90s and early 2000s, I stuck with a desktop. I did all my work from home and rarely had a need to bring a computer anywhere. But, a few years ago, I decided it might be nice to be able to take a laptop computer to the library, hotels, vacation destinations and even my parents’ house.

Still, most of the time, I find packing up my computer is a big effort. So I usually leave it at home. But, when I do want to tote it along, at least I have the option. A desktop computer isn’t portable at all, unless you’re comparing it to an old mainframe!

19 thoughts on “Do you need a laptop computer?”

  1. Thanks for your comment, Brian. Why do you say a laptop is less hassle? I can see it’s more portable, but do you see other benefits?

  2. The question these days is not “do you need a laptop?”, but really is “do you need a desktop?” I have been an IT guy for 15 years, and always had a desktop because they were simply more powerful. The fact is now that laptops are very close to competing with desktops, and you really only need the power of a desktop for high-end games. Otherwise, the portability and less hassle of a laptop far outweighs the complications of having a desktop.

  3. Many of the arguments for desktops just don’t hold true anymore, or are irrelevant. Upgradeability is not an issue, since laptops pretty much come with whatever you need, and provide USB ports for the few things you might. Hardly anyone upgrades a desktop, except for the RAM or hard disk, which are just as easily upgradeable on a laptop.

    Laptop performance is high enough now that only high-end gamers will be missing out. Likewise, disk space is so cheap, even on laptops, that it’s no longer an issue.

    The amount of physical space you need to dedicate to a desktop is also an issue, as well as all the wires you need to deal with. Laptops give you an all-in-one solution with much fewer wires, and it takes up much less physical space. Laptops also use less electricity, and are easily portable, and even if you only need that portability once in a while, it will be well worth it (like when taking the laptop down to a coffee shop for a change of scenery)

    If one has a desktop and a laptop, keeping the data on both in sync is a nightmare. I’m a hard-core IT guy and I tried for months to keep 2 systems in sync until I finally gave up on that battle. Syncing to a sufficient level is simply not possible.

    Overall, laptops really bring some very nice benefits, and have very little drawback. Even only a couple of years ago this was not true, but today, it is.

  4. I’ve in a developer for 12 years now. I couldn’t live without my 25 inch screen on my desktop and my desktop cost me a 1/4 of what a compairable laptop does. Oh, and a full sized keyboard will ALWAYS be better than a laptops. There are so very few times that I even want portability that I can’t see why I’d waste the money on a nice laptop. I’m debating spending $250 on a cheapy netbook so on the rare times it would come in handy I have something.

  5. I have wrestled with this issue more and more these days. I would like a laptop for the portability. However, as an IT professional, I am usually at my office PC 8-12 hours a day, so I don’t know if I would use the laptop simply out of overexposure. I have a family, and I don’t want family time to be spent IM-ing or web browsing or (heaven forbid) working even more.

    In fact, I spent a lot of time/money making a decent desktop a few years back; so much so that it is just now getting to be lesser than the current market norm; and yet I spend less than five hours a month on it and it is literally within arms reach of my bed.

    I guess if I needed a laptop, I would already know. I just don’t want it to be another thing that I got along without before, but now it is a part of me; like the cell phone.

    I used to say “I’ll never get a cell phone”, yet one day a sales job came up that needed “constant contact” and even after I left the job the home phone was simply not enough.

    When did being a good geek mean spending every last dime on technology that simply made us use more technology?

    Maybe I just not as good of a geek as I used to be?

  6. Oh man, I thought I was the only one with this crazy question! Glad to see more people not able to make thier mind.

  7. Nice article! Thanks for sharing. When choosing notebook, don’t forget to consider battery life. So it can support your mobile activity.

  8. I’m glad I found this discussion. I have an old XP that seems to handle my computing needs just fine – but a faster laptop seems so “cool”! I just found out laptop batteries go bad after about 2 years – not a deal killer, but something most people don’t realize I think. A new computer is fun, but once the novelty wears off I’m not sure how many times I’d take it out into the back yard, or whatever.

  9. This is something that is always changing. The best combo for the developer currently is the desktop/smart phone… Ditch the laptop and netbook in the middle.
    Being connected now is almost a requirement, I run several servers, so if something happens I have to be able to do something right then to alleviate the problem. But I don’t need a laptop for that, I can SSH or go to a web interface from my device.

    Another thing is, if you have sensitive data, you DON’T want that on a laptop, they break too often for somebody running their own business… You need a desktop in a stable position running incremental backups all the time.

    Also, you can get so much more done with more screen space. Having multiple screens will help you save the time.

    So yes, being portable and being able to do something from anywhere is important, but the desktop has also not lost importance. Portability has gone from Big Laptops, to Laptops, to netbooks, now to smart phones/ipod touch devices you can fit in your pocket.

    A laptop these days is kind of pointless unless you are business traveler and going to be working in hotel rooms. It’s neither powerful enough with a large enough screen to rival the productivity of dual desktop large screens, nor is it portable enough to rival the quick access of a smart phone.

  10. I am struggling with this same dilemma. I purchased both a new desktop and latop last week thinking I needed both since my desktop was old and sluggish and a laptop would provide portability. I set up my laptop first and began using it and quickly asked myself the question, “why do I need a desktop at all or at least a new one?” Perhaps keeping the old sluggish one is not so bad for desktop “office” work and the laptop is all I need for media and portability needs. I am seriously considering returning the desktop and buying a new flatscreen TV. I am glad that I am not the only one that thinks deeply about these things…

  11. I do agree with brian on most of what he said about laptops in comparison to desktops. Honestly I’ve really considered making the transition from a desktop to a laptop for the portability and the fact you free up so much space and don’t have to deal with wires creating a mess. My biggest concern though would have to be heat because I keep my desktop on quite often, only when I go places do I put it in sleep mode. Also at night before bed I have it set for the monitor to turn off after 5 mins and the computer itself goes to sleep after 1 hour. If heat isn’t an issue when it comes to keeping a laptop on for long period of time, I’ll gladly make the switch. Great article I must say!

Comments are closed.