Storagebod Rotating Header Image

Do you need a desktop?

Work provide me with a laptop which spends most of its time locked to my desk. It’s quite a nice business laptop but really I can’t be bothered to carry it around. On occasion, when I’m working from home and realise that I am going to need access to some of corporate applications which require VPN access, it’ll come home with me but mostly not.

To be quite honest, even my MBA doesn’t travel that much, up and down the stairs is about as far as it goes. It is quite the nicest and most practical laptop that I’ve ever owned but I think we are getting close to the stage where a tablet can do almost everything that I need where-ever I am.

I was thinking as I was working today whether what I was doing required the traditional desktop experience and could I simply use my iPad as the access device instead. The answer is mostly yes, almost all the applications that I use are generic enough that there are good enough replacements on the iPad or they are accessed by a web interface anyway.

There are a few blockers tho’ at present

1) at present I can’t get my iPad onto the corporate wireless, this means that I can’t access a number of key applications due to ‘security’ restrictions but I can access email which appears to be our preferred file delivery/transfer mechanism.

2) I need a real keyboard to type on, there is a limit to how much I am prepared to type on a screen keyboard. I could overcome this relatively easily by bringing a bluetooth keyboard in.

3) Wired Ethernet is a necessity when working in some of our data centres or secure areas.

4) Unfortunately, I struggle without PowerPoint and Visio unfortunately; I can cope without Word, Excel is a little more problematic but it’s manageable. Keynote is nice but it makes a real mess of rendering PowerPoint in my experience.

5) Working on an external display is often a much nicer experience than using the tablet screen, even tho’ the retina display is the wonderful. But I have both the HDMI and VGA dongles which gets round this. But I wish that Apple could find a way to put a mini-DisplayPort on the iPad as using the adapters means that I loose any chance of using a USB device. Not important most of the time but very useful for transferring files from cameras and other devices.

But then I started thinking some more, perhaps I don’t really need a tablet either for work. Perhaps a smartphone which I dock would do? What we could do with is a standard dock for all mobile devices which charges, displays on an external screen and allows input from a standard keyboard/mouse.

Planes, trains, hotels and the like could simply provide a dock and you would end up carrying even less. At that point a device the size of a Samsung Note or Kindle Fire becomes a very interesting proposition.

And yet, I still expect to keep my PC desktop for some time….why? It’s still the best serious gaming platform out there. But for almost everything else I could probably manage with a mobile device.


  1. Ewan says:

    Would you benefit significantly more from plugging your mobile device into a dock over just logging into a terminal and accessing all your data online?

    There are obviously situations without network access where offline access to files is needed, but an awful lot of the time, you probably just want to access files that are out there on dropbox or the work sharepoint system, and used hosted tools to manipulate those files.

  2. Martin Glassborow says:

    I prefer having a device that I can use where-ever I am; I might not choose to do heavy lifting whilst I am in the coffee shop but I like the idea that I can pick-up my email etc; perhaps do a blog entry and it would be good if I could use the same device as I use to write a longer piece. I think the current crop of tablets accompanied by a good dock would be pretty damn close.

  3. In the office I have a laptop (most of the IBMers have Thinkpads) and an extra screen. I need both screens to do my work. Being in tech support I usually read through lot’s of logfiles. So a tablet would definitely not be sufficient. But what I’d really need is a the kind of computer they have in the movie Minority Report! Really huge screens with a 0-latency gesture control. Any kind sponsors out there? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *