Laptops vs Desktops

This past week I worked on four client laptops (from various manufacturers) with failed hard drives.  The week before that it was another two. This school year I’ve probably helped people with laptops at least a dozen times where the hard drives on their laptop died or was in the last stages of dying (and was luckily able to pick off some of their data before it went “belly up”).

In the same amount of time, I have no dealt with ANY desktop hard drive failures.


Talking with someone on Sunday, they asked why the hard drive in their one year-old laptop died but the one in their 6 year-old desktop hasn’t died. So I gave them the normal spiel:

  • You move your laptop around much more often than your desktop.
  • If a hard drive is going to die, it is probably going to die some time in that first year or else run for a nice long while.
  • Smaller components running at higher speeds have a smaller margin-of-error before something goes wrong.
  • You move your laptop around much more often than your desktop.

Really, I just stick with the first and fourth ones above. A desktop, within reason, pretty much stays put as soon as you get the thing going the first time.

This is one reason I have been holding out for the new Mac mini to be released (crossing my fingers for the event on October 23), it seems that desktops are more “rugged” than laptops or portables. Much of that is perception, but there are a number of benefits being a desktop has over a laptop:

  • You don’t move as often.
  • You don’t have a hinge attached to your screen (hopefully).
  • You don’t spend part of your day stuffed inside of a bag where temperature changes are mandatory.
  • Heat is not as much of an issue because you have more space to work with.

That’s just a few. One not named, but what I have been thinking more about is this:

  • The inability to work everywhere.

There have been a number of times that I’ve pulled the laptop out almost anywhere and started working. That might seem like a great thing, but is it really? I find having a certain place where you work can be a huge benefit to productivity because you can surround yourself with familiar surroundings to help get yourself into “the zone”. I also liken it to keeping distractions out of the bedroom so that it stays the area where you sleep. That’s why we threw the TV out of there a long time ago. Keeping work contained to a single room of the home can keep it at least a little bit separate from your family.

I’m hoping to try it.

There are benefits to each, but right now I’m leaning toward a desktop + tablet for my computing needs for the future. Now I need to wait out that new Mac mini.