The difference between devices and computers

They say that the “computer” is passe.

They say that the thing we grew up with, a monitor, keyboard, mouse and CPU is old and busted.

They say it will give way to a next generation of handheld devices.

They can kiss my ass.

Sure, I have little doubt that a lot of us will soon be running around with data pads and looking just like Captain Jean-Luc Picard and saying pithy things like, “Make it so, Number One. Engage!”

There’s something about a real computer that requires certain things like a desk, a room to itself (often called an office), and something very un-portable about it all.

If you want to use a computer, it requires a certain amount of sacrifice. It requires a certain frame of mind. If you just whip a thing out of your pants you miss all that. It isn’t the same. A computer is self-contained and don’t depend on no wimpy “cloud.”

The Roku is a device. Not a computer. It’s a little magic box that you put by your television set and suddenly you can play all sorts of stuff from the internets – right on your TV! Like Pandora music through your home stereo. Now that’s pretty cool.

I can play Pandora on my computer like I have for a few years now. Or I can also play it through the Roku on my home stereo while I have friends over or I’m doing the dishes. It’s the same thing, right?

Nope. On the computer I can move a mouse and instantly do whatever I want. I can switch from one station to another with the instantaneous click of a button.

Do the same thing on the Roku? Nope. I have to use these little arrows on the remote control. If I want to listen to station that’s down the list 50 clicks away, guess what? I have to click all of those 50 clicks. Each and every one. No, that’s not the same. It’s different.

It’s the same thing with pad “computing.” Sure, there’s a time and place for little devices that can do a lot. I adore my iPod Touch. It has some of my favorite music and can do a lot of other things. But it isn’t my home computer. It’s slower, has a fraction of the power and a fraction of the storage space. The best thing about it is that it can do some of the computer stuff and still fit in my shirt pocket. It’ll do most of the same stuff but it will never be as good.

Now it’s all about the pads. The iPad. The iPad 2. The iPad 3 which is “coming soon” even though the iPad 2 just came out not that long ago. Call me weird, but I find it strangely unnerving to spend money on a gadget when I’m already been told about the cool shit in the next one, that it is about to be out of date and it’s all so yesterday.

Sure, we have portable computers, but they suck too much to be a real computer. Stupid ass keyboards, lame displays, weirdo input controls (no damn mouse) and it feels like you’re working in a tightly constricted bubble, not even able to move your arms. It is neat to have some of the home computer power on the move, though, but it’s still not the same.

So the “computer” market doesn’t have a lot of growth in it but the market for devices and pads is explosive with lots of room to grow. So people start spewing projections about how the handheld and pad computers are going to be the shiznit. No one talks about or gets excited about desktop computers any more. The portable computers are going to kill of the dinosaur ones.

The outcome is inevitable. Small is sexy. (Finally a bit of good news, at least for me). But much will be lost. No longer will people have to go visit a certain place to do their computer stuff. Now they can bring the computer stuff to them, wherever they are, integrate it with whatever else they happen to be doing. Working, eating, driving, have conversations, and probably even during sex. “Siri, look up the Kama Sutra. Which position do you recommend we try next? Cow, elephant, cat or tiger?”

There’s a reason why the damn thing is supposed to be in the other room.

9 responses

  1. I like the act of commitment involved in using a desktop computer. Granted, my desktop computer is also a laptop but it sits on a desk and is plugged in to a power cord so it counts. There is the ritual of pouring a coffee or mixing a drink and crossing the threshold because you want to, not because you have to. There is a difference. But hey, what do I know. I don’t have an iPhone, iPad and my promised (four weeks ago) iPod still has not arrived. Maybe I’ll be whistling a different iTune when it finally shows up. 🙂


    1. The iPod Touch is truly an amazing device. I love and adore mine deeply. But it needs to know its place.

      I like the way you put it. It should be an act of commitment to use a computer. The handhelds should be reserved for questions like “where’s the bathroom?” or “where’s the nearest McDonald’s?” (if one has been temporarily blinded and is unable to see two blocks away).

      “… whistling a different iTune …” Heh. I’m impressed. No wonder you are currently winning the Boss Said That competition.


      1. You mean I could win something that was once possibly mauled by a cat? Things are looking up. 🙂


      2. That could mean Dr. Hibbert or most any part of my body, save one. My body has seen a lot of cat action.


  2. I love the illustration. “Make it snow.” You gotta be a Trekkie/Trekker to comprenez the entire meaning. I don’t know roku, though. I don’t own anything with an “i” in front of it, either. I do have a desktop computer. Old school rules!


    1. Hey, where’s my iReply?


      1. It’s in the iMail. 🙂


    2. Isn’t the look on Picard’s face so … something? He truly loves snow, and Christmas, too, as we saw when he was stuck in the Nexus.


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