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Future Tech 2013: The PCs, tablets and cutting-edge hardware of tomorrow

PCWorld Staff | Jan. 7, 2013
The forward march of technology moves at a dizzying pace. Yesterday's gadgets look like quaint antiques.

Cheaper and stronger with every new generation of processor, all-in-ones are becoming viable power PCs. In past years, you'd have been hard-pressed to find anything of decent quality even at $1500. Today you can find tons of options below $1000, allowing people everywhere to enjoy these models' benefits without breaking the bank. In the future, nearly all PCs will be equipped with a discrete graphics card to power basic games at an adequate frame rate, and they will boast such built-in media capabilities as Blu-ray and video-on-demand apps.

In addition, more families will adopt PCs as their center for entertainment, with touch controls that every user can access easily, regardless of PC experience level. PCs will migrate away from the dark, lonely corners of home offices and storm into living rooms, kitchens, and other main gathering areas to provide endless family enjoyment in the form of streamed movies, television, creative applications, and games.

The conventional desktop systems of today--the tower units that are either parked under a desk or displayed prominently like a show car--will remain popular with certain niche groups (such as gamers and business owners, at opposite ends of the PC user spectrum). They will remain the cheapest option for basic computing and office-oriented productivity when glamor and graphical power aren't necessary. Physically, however, they will begin to shrink. Indeed, just this past year, we've seen business computers dwindle to the size of a shoebox, and some models, such as the Lenovo ThinkCentre M92P, can even be mounted under a desk in a space-saving hiding spot.

Enthusiasts' computers, on the other hand, will continue to grow to the size of a minifridge to accommodate extra video cards and water-cooling equipment. Some of them will glow and shine with custom paint jobs and interior lighting, modified to become impressive works of art. The Digital Storm Aventum is one such product that takes pride in its size and crushing weight--it almost doubles as a table for a family room. They will be proudly displayed next to a desk bearing multiple monitors and enough gear to make it look like a space cruiser's command deck. My biggest hope is that games of the future will be able to catch up to the power that some computer enthusiasts will be wielding.

The future of desktops is bright and ongoing, no matter what radical claims to the contrary are made. Though most people may resort more frequently to their phones and tablets to get work done quickly on the go, true computing power will continue to come from that thing plugged into a wall.   --Alex Cocilova


Tablets have evolved at a lightning-fast pace. And for 2013, we expect another year of rapid and significant change in areas ranging from performance and displays to battery life and price.


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