The decline of the laptop

Laptops used to be the best way to have portable computing. They could be made light, rugged, and powerful and were used everywhere. Now, all you see are tablets and smart phones, and there’s good reason for that.

Tablets and smart phones are easy to use, with touch screens being one of the simplest user interfaces imaginable. The rise of small processors has also made tablets and phones more attractive, while making laptops seem cumbersome in comparison. The only time a laptop seems appropriate for portable computing at this point is if you’re running very demanding applications, or absolutely need a keyboard (though giving a tablet a keyboard is as simple as docking it).

Even in the world of business, where typing is common, the laptop almost seems archaic. They are typically heavy and awkward to carry, and absolutely can’t be used while moving about. In the military, where the front lines have no real need to type, and maintenance workers still value portability over performance, the laptop has completely fallen out of favor. Being outmatched by desktops in performance (and made obsolete much quicker), and overshadowed by tablets and smart phones in portability and usability, the laptop seems to be fading into obscurity.

While the laptop will probably have a niche for journalists (we type on the go quite a bit) and a few other industries, it looks as if it will fade away in the military market. Maybe thin clients and cloud computing in general could revive it, but even in the consumer market laptops have become less and less popular. The endless rows of laptops at electronics stores have gone and been replaced by smart phones and tablets on display.

By Skyler Frink


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