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When the PC is obsolete, how will you do this, and this, and this?

Jon Phillips | April 18, 2013
Last week, the PC industry was rocked by news that Q1 computer shipments had declined by as much as 14 percent, year on year.

Last week, the PC industry was rocked by news that Q1 computer shipments had declined by as much as 14 percent, year on year. Analysts cite various factors, but they put most of the blame on a consumer shift toward tablets and other mobile devices.PC

At PCWorld, we wonder how humankind would survive on tablets alone. Tablets are great for casual Web browsing and catching up on email, but can they deliver everything we need in the so-called post-PC era?

Before you answer, walk with me through a tour of the PC's greatest talents. These are the benefits you'll give up when your last PC dies and you decide you can get by without a replacement.

Play Bioshock Infinite in all its glory

There's a reason why Angry Birds is considered the quintessential tablet game: Because most tablets can't play real games with intense 3D graphics, demanding physics engines, hordes of onscreen players, and all the other design elements that depend on desktop-class CPUs and discrete graphics cards.

Next-generation Haswell tablets will deliver a stronger PC gaming experience, but don't expect to play Crysis 3 at its highest settings. And good luck using gesture controls alone to play any desktop game.

Run multiple monitors

Tablets are one-screen ponies. Sure, you can use a tablet as an external monitor for your PC. But (except with Windows 8 tablets) you can't attach an external monitor to your hardware, and run your tablet OS and apps across multiple displays.

Multitask through 20 different open windows

iOS and Android tablets offer varying levels of behind-the-scenes multitasking, but you can't run multiple apps side-by-side-by-side. Windows 8 tablets address this issue with the system's Snap view feature, but even then you can't have more than two apps onscreen at the same time. Who in the world can work this way?

If I'm to get any work done at all, I need quick, single-screen access to Chrome, Internet Explorer, Photoshop, Stickies, HipChat, sundry Gchat windows, and even Microsoft Word.

Attach a plethora of peripherals

Take a look at that iPad. Do you see a USB port? Now check out your Android or Windows 8 tablet. You might find just one. Sure, Bluetooth offers external device connectivity, but it's not bulletproof. Nothing beats multiple USB ports when you need to attach a mouse, keyboard, game controller, external hard drive, thumb drive, and Skype headset.

Rock some serious content editing

Do not step to me with iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand or Android Movie Studio. For serious video, image or audio editing, you need a full arsenal of features, along with all the precision control that real applications provide. We're talking Photoshop, Final Cut, Pro Tools, and a host of other content creation suites. These are the applications that separate amateurs from auteurs.


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