RT Cunningham


Desktop Computers vs. Smartphones vs. Tablets

desktop I have some thoughts and opinions I’m going to share with you about the various computing devices we all use, with emphasis on desktop computers. In this context, desktop computers include traditional desktop PCs, laptop computers (also called notebooks), keyboard PCs and all-in-one PCs. Each is different, yet each has a lot more screen real estate than any smartphone or tablet.

Desktop Computers

I started with my first traditional desktop computer in 1994, before the Internet became a thing. The case housing the CPU, hard drive and everything else sat on top of the desk. The monitor, a huge beast, sat on top of that. All of my later desktop computers (the non-laptop variety) had tower cases.

In the last 10 years, I’ve alternated between laptop computers and traditional desktop computers. I now have two regular-sized laptop computers (with a screen larger than 15 inches) and one mini-laptop computer (also called a netbook). I’m using the newest of the three now.

Based on what I’ve observed, desktop computers are still dominant. I don’t know how long they’ll stay that way, with smartphones not far behind. Tablets are in a distant third.


What do you call a non-smartphone mobile phone? Your guess is as good as mine, but probably something along the line of “regular phone”. People are quickly forgetting that land lines exist. When I was a young adult, there was at least one land line in every home. Now, I rarely see them. I have one, but only because my DSL provider requires regular land line phone service.

I had non-smartphone mobile phones in the past. Before smartphones were introduced (and no, the iPhone wasn’t the first), that’s all anyone could get. I was fine with that type of phone. After all, I spent all of my computing time on desktop computers back then.

I did my best to avoid the smartphone craze. In 2013, I told everyone I wouldn’t own a smartphone until it was absolutely required of me. Two-factor authentication routines forced me into the ball game. In January of 2015, I sort of joined the cell phone zombie revolution and obtained mobile phone service for the first time since moving here in 2006. In fact, I got three phones when I didn’t really want any – something called the “Family Ties” plan. One for me, one for Josie (my wife) and one as a standby.


I’ve never owned a tablet, unless you count buying them for other people. I’ve never actually used one. All I’ve ever done is watch someone else use one. From what I’ve seen, they’re used mostly for games, social networks and YouTube.

When Josie and I returned from the United States, we brought six 7-inch tablets back with us. They were inexpensive RCA models we gave to some of the families of our nieces and nephews. I think only three are still in working order. My younger son, Jon, brought another just like those (except that it came with a keyboard) for a specific niece when he visited in 2015. She’s one of his inaanaks. It still works – she guards it like a hawk when she’s charging it so no one else can break it.

What I Prefer

I think I’ll always prefer desktop computers and judging by the visitors to my websites, so will most other people. Smartphone and tablet on-screen keyboards are annoying. If it wasn’t for the auto complete function, I wouldn’t use them at all.

Even though desktop computers rank at number 1, smartphones at number 2 and tablets at number 3, I still have to support all three on my websites. Responsive web design works but screen real estate is so limited on anything but desktop computers, I’m surprised by the percentage of people who web surf with anything else.

Sure, smartphones and tablets can be made to work as replacements for desktop computers, but it requires extra peripherals and you’re still not going to get around the lack of screen real estate.

Perhaps one day, we’ll all be using devices that project holographic screens, keyboards and mice and it won’t matter how big that particular device happens to be. I think that day is a long, long way away.

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By RT Cunningham
June 22, 2016