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Businesses Hardware

The Future of the P.C. 226

Posted by michael
from the chinese-everything dept.
scarcrowman writes "This is an interesting article on the projected future of what we call the 'P.C.' It is becoming more 'Personal' than ever."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Future of the P.C.

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  • by neoform (551705)
    Am i the only one who reads that headline and finds some sexual undertones?
  • Life Recorder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kryogen1x (838672) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:07PM (#11178949)
    I recently spoke to Microsoft research chief Rick Rashid, who noted, with appropriate awe, that a terabyte of storage now costs about $500. That's enough space to hold every conversation you will ever have from birth to death, or 2000 photographs taken every day of that life, Rashid said. He admitted nobody really knows what such newfound capabilities really mean. Get ready for the life recorder, probably coming soon. It would contain every event from your entire life--probably in video if you want it.

    Almost like the Truman Show. But when he says "every conversation," does he mean in audio or in text?

    I guess this will be good for biographies. But who would want their life recorded?

    • 2000 SMALL photos (Score:4, Informative)

      by Daniel Ellard (799842) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:15PM (#11178989)
      Maybe I'm planning to live a bit longer than Rick Rashid, but for me that's 40-50MB per day. Suddenly it sounds more like the size my home directory grows per day day than a detailed history of my life.

    • by liquidpele (663430) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:21PM (#11179012) Journal
      This will be *great* !
      I can rewind my life and proove to my girlfriend that I really did tell her what she thinks I never said.
    • Text vs. Audio (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john,oyler&comcast,net> on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:39PM (#11179071) Journal
      With ideal compression, they are technically the same. Add some metadata that explains tone of voice, pacing, rhythum, cadence... 100 megs worth of samples of your voice. Why record the actual waveforms when they could be synthesized with a decent level of fidelity to the original?

      I guess the only limiting factor at all, would be whether cpu performance increases more than storage in the coming years.
      • Re:Text vs. Audio (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2004 @09:44PM (#11179240)

        A spoken phrase contains tons more information than the words used.

        "hi" can mean anything from "go away" to "good to see you" to "great to see you" to "i love you" to "i want to have sex with you right now" depending on how it's said.

        "Yes" can mean "yes with 100% certainty" or "I think so" or "I disagree but I'll go along with your opinion" depending on how it is said.

        Sarcasm, enthusiasm, mockery, degrees of understanding and confidence are all components of audio that are missing in text.

        You can carry on an entire side of a conversation with the phrase "um hmm" in different tones. In text that would compress very well. In voice, it better not lose the added info.

        • Nice troll. Made me hit the parent link, thinking I brainfarted and forgot to include the important points of my idea.

          But no, I said metadata. In particular, I said metadata that describes exactly the kinds of things you pointed out. Duh.
          • But you also said that with ideal compression they are the same. The amount of metadata is going to significantly outweigh the amount of straight text there is. Not to mention the fact that people have different accents to each other, and everyone has a different variation to everyone else.
        • Yep, and even then you are missing the visual clues. Saying yes, thank you with your middle finger sticking out for example. Suddenly it means a whole different thing.
    • if only they make it mandatory for all politians then we would have 100% accountability
    • by DoraLives (622001) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:40PM (#11179074)
      But who would want their life recorded?

      Everybody except those interesting people that anybody else would actually give a shit about.

    • Re:Life Recorder (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Simonetta (207550) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:47PM (#11179099)
      Everything that isn't copyrighted would probably fit on a floppy disk.
    • Re:Life Recorder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Catbeller (118204) on Friday December 24, 2004 @10:40PM (#11179405) Homepage
      "But who would want their life recorded?"

      Think of this:

      What if were done against your will?

      Supposing the penalty for whatever crime they choose would be to have several permanent cameras and audio pickups mounted on, oh, a hat, or a pair of glasses, transmitting a data feed wirelessly to a court-mandated hard drive array you must wear on you belt? Or maybe the camera and audio pickups could be made flat enough for a "third eye" circuitry tattoo on your forehead, and the recorder could be solid state, embedded surgically in your body, or bonded to your skin? Whereever you go, there they are, watching you, whenever they like. Probably automatically alerting your warden whenever key words are spoken. Hook it up to a GPS, and we're ready for our terror-war future.

      The porn industry may adopt tech first, but totalitarianism is always a close second or third.
      • Who would play back the recordings? Me? Ooh, here is some fancy footage: It's me, watching old video of myself, in which I watch still older video of myself.

        Although, as somebody mentioned, I'd love to have a record of all the fights I've had with my last gf. It's pretty impressive how many fights we had about exactly what happened in previous fights. It got to the point where we almost started a "fight blog" to keep records.

        • There's a site that does something similar. I suck and don't have the url, but his name is Milt, and I think it's "things my girlfriend and I have fought about".

          Fun site :D
      • Well, imagine that we no longer need to imprison people for several years for common crimes, but instead offer them to be monitored to prevent future crimes and have them do community service. Yeah, not gonna happen with the private prison industry in the USA, but isn't that a good idea in principle? Imagine that a rapist and murdurer can remain a productive member of the society, develop and grow as a person under a watchful eye of the law enforcement instead of raping inmates and becoming a goon for organ
    • Re:Life Recorder (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vhold (175219)
      There are already people that go absolutely nuts with their digital cameras and are taking pictures near constantly.

      I don't know what's worse. Having to constantly be in photo mode around them or enduring having to look at various fairly mundane photos every single time you see them. It's worse then the cliche of vacation slides.

      My prediction (or rather hope) is that this will be a self defeating trend, as the technology makes this behavior more accessible for a larger group of people, it will be progre
    • I'm reminded of the film Brainstorm 1983 (Natalie Wood's last film).
      It's about a super virtual reality machine that can record the brain's sensory input and play it back to another person. In the film the machine used special 4-inch-wide silver videotape to do this.
      Anyway there's this scene where a scientist convinces a young lady to have sex with him while he is wearing this brain-recording headset. So naturally, after she leaves he cuts the tape into an endless loop and spends hours playing it back
  • I suppose it's gonna be small, probably wearable and very integrated with our senses. Typing everything on a keyboard is so passe...
    And next thing worth considering is that we will have a programmable microprocessor in almost every device that we use and with IPv6 it can have it own Internet address...
    So many possibilities arise, I think these times are quite good to live in as it is still quite easy to innovate.
    On the other hand tools to develop ideas are lagging behind, if or when we break that barrier cr
    • We need to figure out a new display technology before wearable computers will work. The laser beam that scans across the retina seems like a good possibility. Until then, however, I don't want a mobile communications platform because of the impossibility of reading web pages on a 2" LCD.
    • I think we will have the "PC of the future" before we have the "storage of the future". How will we store all this data? We currently do not have any consumer level storage that can last 70+ years. CD and DVD don't last 70+ years and hard disks don't even come close.

      The only current possiblities are paper, film or vinyl. Maybe everyone could pay some company to store the data and handle copying the data to new disks every so many years? I just don't see any data storage technology on the horizon that

      • You don't need storage that lasts 70+ years, you only need storage that is easy enough to replace every ten years or so. CDs or DVDs are for sure no good for that, since they would require you to sit two weeks in front of the PC to copy them all, nobody would do that and they would simply rot over the years. I think the way storage will be done in the future goes more into the direction of network storage devices, say you have a 'cube' full of harddisks in your basement, all RAID or something more advanced
    • Try installing a microcomputer into your brain. At the sizes that everything currently is at (and that is likely soon to become even smaller) a microcomputer could have enough of a charge to run off of the currents within your brain. Once that is achieved, it makes sense to install a microcomputer (all on one die chip including over a GB of RAM and, who know, maybe even a TB of chemical memory) directly into the brain. Like some science fiction stories of old (and the film The Matrix showed), the base of
      • Re:PC of the future (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DarkMantle (784415) on Friday December 24, 2004 @10:44PM (#11179410) Homepage
        Of course you say this assuming a few things.
        • We have mapped out the brain and know how we can hook it up without making the victim, I mean subject, I mean Guinie Pig a vegtable.
        • We can create this out of material that we know for certain will not have ill side efects. Such as the dye in the PCB on the processor.
        • People (besides yourself) actually want their brains hooked into the internet. With what script kiddies do now, I know I sure as hell wouldn't be jacking in.
        • You mention "who know, maybe even a TB of chemical memory". I dunno about anyone else but this sounds like you want to re-structure my biological signature and alter my electrical signals for technological advances. Sorry, but I like my brain functioning just fine.
        • Lastly, you assume that "jacking in" to the brain stem with an ethernet port would work. There are upteen Million nerve endings connecting to my built in CPU (the biological one, not silicon) that I don't want f#*@ed up.
        "But doesn't that make you wonder just how close we really are to a Matrix-like life?"
        -We're a long way off buddy. You show me an acurate map of the human brain, and CNS before you try to promote the creation of the borg.
  • by eobanb (823187)
    Surely no one actually puts periods in PC, as in "P.C."?
  • by BabyJaysus (808429) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:10PM (#11178968)
    I recently spoke to Microsoft research chief Rick Rashid, who noted, with appropriate awe, that a terabyte of storage now costs about $500. That's enough space to hold every conversation you will ever have from birth to death, ...
    Maybe, but certainly not in MS Word format!
  • The thin-client/application-server model that scott mcnealy evangelized can't give me the privacy, immediate availability and control I must have. Don't get me wrong, I use lots of online applications and lots of computers which act essentially as mere terminals, but I'll always have a personal computer. I expect I'll be wearing an all-purpose computer in the future. On a side note: Anne Coulter has a Giant Hyena Clitorus []
  • by Icarus1919 (802533) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:11PM (#11178972)
    Brain implants! Finally, a terrabyte of storage in our brains. Now I can actually pass the calculus 2 final.
    • hmmm, the last thing I would want is a brain implant with Microsoft software on it and the RIAA and MPAA controlling what data I can keep/run on it either...
  • Rambling? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blapto (839626) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:12PM (#11178975)
    Is it just me who finds the article to be a tad strange? Perhaps it's the mulled wine but all it does is mumble about how we have technology that stores data, and we can buy things that store lots of data. What would be interesting is an analysis of what computer businesses are actually aiming at. I mean, we can see Apple are going for the digital lifestyle (iPod photo, iTunes, AirTunes etc.) but where are we actually going in terms of technology coming to the average user? I for one think that the bottleneck has to be our internet connections. Roll on household OC 48.
    • Re:Rambling? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday December 24, 2004 @09:17PM (#11179190)
      Its a futurist article, really. The whole "life TV" nonsense. Every technological advance has had its futurists and almost without exception they've been painfully wrong.

      The author suggests that computers will be more intrusive, when people seem to want less intrusiveness in their lives. Instead of bigger, uglier boxes with tons of storage you'll probably see smaller quieter devices that don't take up so much desktop real-estate. Instead of an mp3 player here, a phone there, a laptop there, etc we're seeing the emergence of the easy to use PDA smartphone. Instead of people blowing their savings on a $2,000 gaming machine, we're seeing a boom in the console gaming industry. Instead of people demanding bigger brighter and higher resolution screens we're seeing a shift to thinner LCD screens for the sake of aesthetics.

      The PC has its place, but I doubt as this "life recorder." Remind me, what percentage of blogs get abandoned after their first week? 90%? more?
    • I mean, we can see Apple are going for the digital lifestyle (iPod photo, iTunes, AirTunes etc.) but where are we actually going in terms of technology coming to the average user? I for one think that the bottleneck has to be our internet connections. Roll on household OC 48.

      I agree with this. Personally, I see the future PC as being an enhanced iPod with a fatter pipe for interfacing with a regular display. Basically, I see the iPod becoming the PC, and you just carry it around with you and plug it in wh

      • Personally, I see the future PC as being an enhanced iPod with a fatter pipe for interfacing with a regular display. Basically, I see the iPod becoming the PC, and you just carry it around with you and plug it in wherever you want to. It has your mail settings, address book, calendar, as well as the programs you like to use to interface with those. Your "home computer" would then be something you can carry with you, and just hook up at any place that has a connection.

        Other than the hard disk size (which w
        • High-end 3D video cards and a faster processor. I'm talking about basically fitting the equivalent of a G5+ATI Radeon 9600 XT into an iPod, and just plugging it in to an inteface that ties into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

          For me, software isn't the issue so much as the hardware is, both internal and the interface to peripherals.

  • ahem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eobanb (823187) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:14PM (#11178984) Homepage

    Before we get into a holy war over operating systems, set-top boxes, and other things that most of us probably don't want to argue about tonight, and for those of you who didn't RTFA, it basically looks at the possibilities of decentralising, if you will, certain functions of a PC.

    I still believe, however, that the PC itself lacks a certain combination of features that other devices lack. A Tivo or XBox may be simpler to operate, but a PC is expandable and upgradable, simply does much more, and does those things better. A PC is more flexible, and that's what I believe counts. You can word-process or play games, browse the internet, whatever. But if you buy a bunch of 'appliances' to do those things, it really makes life MORE complicated, not less. I yield the floor.

    • Re:ahem... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Babbster (107076) <> on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:40PM (#11179075) Homepage
      The problem is that people STILL complain about the complexity of the PC even with the distance it's come in terms of usability. Taken per function, specialized devices are less complicated by default - you don't have to think about multitasking on an iPod and if you stick a game disc in a [functioning] Xbox it goes straight to the game and works with neither installation nor OS modification.

      The flexibility and expandibility of a desktop PC are primarily attractions for people who want to "do it themselves." Most people, though, would probably prefer to have a simple PC-type device to do word processing, taxes, etc. while having the more specialized devices to play music, play videogames and the rest. Given an HDTV monitor and properly formatted web pages, I expect that most people would even prefer browsing the Internet from the couch on a set-top box (WebTV and the other services like it just came too early to be properly functional).

      Heck, even in the geek community people buy Xboxes to use as media centers, presumably because it would be inconvenient to simply hook up their PC to a TV and use an RF keyboard/remote.

    • Re:ahem... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by iminplaya (723125) <> on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:49PM (#11179107) Journal
      Present day PC's are too finickey, and networks are too unsreliable. When we can have a machine that will operate for ten years or more, like a TV or microwave, without having to call support or your geeky nephew, or having to upgrade every year or so, then we can say they are ready for prime time. Is there anybody out there with a ten year old computer operating with its original OS and hard drive that was formatted only once...when it was new? Part of the problem is the desired flexibility. Specialized devices do one or two things really well for a long time without any maintenance. A PC is your perverbial(sp) "jack of all trades, master of none", needing constant attention. They also tend to put you into upgrade madness everytime you buy a new camera or music player to plug into it. They are fun to tinker with. That's why I have one. It's the crystal radio of our time. Well your time really. I used to mess with radio before I got a computer. I'm a sucker for high tech, no matter how useless.
      • Is there anybody out there with a ten year old computer operating with its original OS and hard drive that was formatted only once...when it was new?

        Not many, but how many people can say their car is 10 years old and never went into the shop? I think things are going to move the other way. People are going to accept that unless they are an expert in computers they aren't going to be able to get away with not taking the computer in for routine maintenance every few months. The price/performance ratio i

      • Well, let's start by saying that YOUR idea of a "PC" and mine are probably drastically different. My desktop "PC" had SCSI hard drives in it that I fully expect to last a decade. My home server has the same SCSI hard drives in it with redundant power supplies, CPU's, fans, hard drives, NIC's -- pretty much everything except the main motherboard. Sure, lightening could strike and take out the redundant line conditioners and UPS' along with the entire network. I've seen it happen. But for "normal" day to day
      • ### Is there anybody out there with a ten year old computer operating with its original OS and hard drive that was formatted only once...when it was new?

        I know some NeXT boxes which have been around for almost a decade and are still in active use. Biggest problem there is actually that the monitors brightness and contrast have fallen down to a level where it gets hard to actually see anything, but beside from that the boxes are still doing quite fine, even form a usability point of view.
    • I don't think a PC can be the jack of all trades and the master of everything. For example, I expect that someone will try VoIP over a wireless laptop, but for most, a mobile phone simply suits the task better.

      Game consoles are easier for game developers to support than PCs because of the fact they are inflexible. Rather than having millions of permutations, you have just a handful. On the consumer side, with a game console, it is rare that it needs a patch, whereas PC game developers seem to generally
    • But isn't the appliance angle just an example of the small, sharp tools philosophy? I have a device or service for storage and then I have a number of interconnected devices to accumulate, access or manipulate that reserve. The big difference from a PC is everything becomes distributed. And, of course, the biggest obstacle really isn't technological but political. There has to be some standard upon which these devices can communicate with each other.
    • Will we see convergence or divergence.

      Convergence is where one box does it all. It is a computer, it is a PVR, it is a media player, it is a phone, it is a radio and a TV.

      Divergence is where we move to seperate boxes to do all those things. We have one box for a media player, another for a PVR, another for email and internet. etc.

      With the cost of electronics getting cheaper and cheaper, I think we will see divergence.

    • PC operating systems suck on many levels. They are expensive, insecure, prone to failure, hard to repair, fragile, inefficient, and are unable to offer guarantees to applications. You can't build reliable, cost-effective and efficient systems on such a poor foundation.
      • It's just windows that's that way.
        • Linux also sucks, it just sucks less than Windows.

          UNIX was innovative stuff in the 1970s. An elegant and portable time-sharing system that could run on small computers. Guess what, it is almost 2005. The design decisions that made sense in the 1970s are showing their age, badly.

  • 2000 SMALL photos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daniel Ellard (799842)
    Maybe I'm planning to live a bit longer than Rick Rashid, but for me that's 40-50MB per day. Suddenly it sounds more like the size my home directory grows per day day than a detailed history of my life.

    • The 50MB by which your home directory grows will however most likly be not all your own personal selfwritten data, half of it or so will be random downloads from the net and stuff like that that is not uniq to yourself. So if we ever get such a record-your-life device I am sure that it would have some way to 'compress' away such non-uniq data, say by having a giant P2P network that contains all data that is shared among menkind. So if you download 600mb worth a movie on a day, the device would just need to
  • I'm not sure how that makes me feel about supporting this company.. I wonder how much of what I spend on electronics already ends up there.
  • It is becoming more 'Personal' than ever."
    eventually it will become so personal that it will soon be called the personal computer, or PC. oh wait...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:29PM (#11179037)
    Coming from an Amiga background, I bought my first PC in 1994. Man was I dissapointed when I tried learning how to code for this thing (in assembly language). The whole memory management and real/protected modes are a travesty other archs didn't get encumbered with. The stupid (as in not very capable) BIOS doesn't help matters either, especially when you have to dink around with IRQs (which shouldn't be a problem anymore but can be, as I recently found myself trying to cram 4 PCI network cards in a i386 router). Plug and pray, indeed! Perhaps not coincidentally, quite a few PC BIOS's have had "interesting" bugs.
    Things have gotten slightly better over the last decade, but damn if it doesn't feel like a big waste of time, considering there were better archs available 10 years ago.
  • by CestusGW (814880) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:43PM (#11179086)
    I think the "PC" as we know it is bound for a destiny as little more than a file server. I mean, let's look at some common uses of Joe six-pack's PC:

    Playing songs and movies
    Chatting with an IM, checking e-mail
    Writing documents (letters, resumes)
    Playing games

    Let's start with the first one. Songs sound better through a full stereo set, we can all acknowledge that. Stereos right now are very good at playing audio: they aren't that great at holding the songs they play. Clunky 600 CD changers aren't really the answer. A PC can hold, index, categorize and search more songs in a smaller space than a CD changer ever could. With the advent of set-top boxes, playing and storing movies and videos is now almost practical in a non-PC device. However, a PC is still a more extensible platform for storing and retrieving video data. For display of video, a properly sized television is simply larger than my 17" monitor, and better suited for viewing from a distance. So playing your audio through your stereo and your video through your TV are both better options than just using your PC, but using your PC for storage and retrieval is the best way to look after data.

    For chatting/e-mail, the PC is still the premiere platform. However, increasing numbers of people want to take their e-mail with them. Also, people may tend to both chat (IM) with a person they also call on their cell phone. Currently, synchronizing the data between your PDA, cell and computer on who can be contacted where is a pain in the butt. The PC is best suited to storing contact information, but a cell phone is better suited for phoning somebody, a Blackberry can check your e-mail anywhere and hopefully someday will be able to use IM as well (if it doesn't already?).

    Although it's a long way off yet, e-paper is still being actively pursued as a better way of entering data. The modern PC, with it's QWERTY keyboard (a design meant to hinder speed, not help it) isn't the premiere choice for entering data. The e-paper with a clipboard could go more places than your PC ever could, but probably won't have the storage capacities that modern *cough*MS Office*cough* document formats require. So having a PC act to save and retrieve all the documents for your e-paper is probably the right combination of technologies.

    As for game playing, we all know that both the console and PC games market aren't dying (haven't heard a peep out of Netcraft), but costs for a modern gaming PC are continuing to climb (look back at the pricing for a "budget" GeForce 2 card, now look at the price for a "budget" GeForce 6600 card). At the current rate, the "PC" that you play games on will be a completely different beast than the "PC" that is targeted towards the mass consumer market.

    In the end, I'm trying to say that just about the only thing a PC does really well is store stuff. Playback and data entry are done much better by devices specialized for that task. So, in the long run, I think the PC will end up acting as a data server/hub for a variety of devices and server to keep them all in sync with one another. Just my $0.02
    • by emurphy42 (631808) on Friday December 24, 2004 @09:05PM (#11179156) Homepage
      The modern PC, with it's QWERTY keyboard (a design meant to hinder speed, not help it)
      From Wikipedia: []
      "Frequently-used pairs of letters were separated in an attempt to stop the typebars from intertwining and becoming stuck, thus forcing the typist to manually unstick the typebars and also frequently blotting the document."
      Beyond this, there's an awful lot of debate over QWERTY vs. alternatives (particularly Dvorak), which I shan't get into here.
      isn't the premiere choice for entering data.
      It damn well is for me. I touch-type, and any slight edge I might gain from Dvorak is easily outweighed by (a) QWERTY's ubiquity and - more importantly - (b) the inherent slowdown incurred by thinking and typing simultaneously. And don't bother suggesting voice recognition; my voice would get tired a lot more quickly than my fingers do. (For businessmen who spend lots of time producing correspondence, voice recognition would make a lot more sense.)
      • For businessmen who spend lots of time producing correspondence, voice recognition would make a lot more sense

        But producing less correspondence would be an even better idea. If they have to pause while pressing keys, they damage the enviroment less, and hire fewer lawyers

    • The challenge, it seems to me, will be to make sure these devices will communicate with the "dataserver" without ANY necessary user intervention.

      That's key. For all the accolades about the ease of USB and Firewire, I still see people weekly who's "PC" can't connect to their iPod or digital camera right out of the box for one reason or another.

      Every single device needs to be able to:

      1. Initiate communications with the host server.

      2. Install any necessary applications on the host server.

      3. Do both withou
    • My little lap top is my media box, it has svideo out, into the tv, I play DVDs and AVI (self encoded home movies) from it. It has every CD I own on it, all encoded at a decent rate AAC, and for this I have a good speaker system. I also use it for a dock for my camera and for my iPod, and it thus has all my pictures on it. All of the files are stored on a USB external HD, except the music. I use it as a mobile document store/word processor. I've outgrown gaming (besides solitare, and some emulation), so
    • Playing songs and movies Chatting with an IM, checking e-mail Writing documents (letters, resumes) Playing games

      It seems really weird that you left the web off this list--Joe Sixpack almost certainly uses that more often than he plays games.

      And in the near future, we could expect people to start streaming home movies to each other or attaching them to their blogs fairly often. Content creation rather than mere playback could become fairly widespread. Editing videos still takes a good bit of CPU horsep

  • by Stealth Potato (619366) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:50PM (#11179110)
    If I recall my consumer history correctly, there was once a time when you could buy a general-purpose electric motor with all these doo-dads to hook up to it, like mixers and other household or kitchen tools. As the motors themselves got cheaper, the attachments became small devices with their own motors. I.e., instead of having one larger motor with a lot of attachments, you had an array of smaller motorized tools.

    It seems that a similar transformation is occurring (has occurred?) in the computer industry. Instead of having one computer you use for everything, a multitude of small computerized devices now exists for fulfilling specific functions. Of course, a great deal of this is just natural, considering you wouldn't want to lug a desktop PC around with you whenever you wanted some tunes on the go. :-)

    • It seems that a similar transformation is occurring (has occurred?) in the computer industry. Instead of having one computer you use for everything, a multitude of small computerized devices now exists for fulfilling specific functions. Of course, a great deal of this is just natural, considering you wouldn't want to lug a desktop PC around with you whenever you wanted some tunes on the go. :-)

      Why would you need to lug around a PC when, technology permitting, you are able to store all your media at home a

  • At some point, ever faster and better computers will outpace the average user's perceived need for upgrading. Sure, dual Opterons running on 5 GB RAM in a 2 TB server case is incredibly sexy, but Joe Average doesn't really care about that.

    Remember that the popularization of computers and the internet was created by this "Joe Average" market and they typically don't do complicated fluid mechanics calculations or weather prediction programs.

    Aside from 3D gaming there's no real reason to spend more money/upg
    • by bstoneaz (661994)
      like many before you, you have missed it.

      the flaw in your argument is assuming applications will not take advantage of the increases in performance.

      believe it or not, most people don't think dual opterons with anything but a supermodel are sexy. they just want a computer to run their software well.

      I have to use microsoft products for the bulk of my work needs, and a 1.5GHz processor is painful for me to use. 10 yrs ago that would have sounded crazy. All the comments around gaming primarily pushing the
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Friday December 24, 2004 @10:01PM (#11179281) Homepage
    People have been predicting the demise or decline of PCs forever. First it was the console, then PDAs, etc. But their argument usually starts out like this:
    1. People generally use the PC for A, B, and C.
    2. New devices are coming out that can do A, B, and C better.
    3. So PC will decline or die out.

    But they always forget why PCs became popular in the first place. PCs are GENERAL computing machines. With new software or upgrades they can take virutally any role. Their functions are virtually limitless. As a result they are often the nexus of different devices. They help bridge the conntection between other devices or give rise to new ones. How are you going to use your iPod without a PCs? The PC bridges the connection between Internet and iPod. The trend has been towards a convergence rather than a divergence of information and computing. A general computing device is what's going to make it happen, not individual devices that stay one way and operate apart from everything else.
    • How are you going to use your iPod without a PCs?

      Answer: Your phone is also an iPod, stores 10GB, and you can buy from iTunes on it. Geeks will demand phones with removable SDIO cards or cables to jack into a PC, but most people won't care.

      The PC bridges the connection between Internet and iPod.

      Putting electronics into a phone also gives you an Internet connection.

      A general computing device is what's going to make it happen,

      Yes, and since there's value in carrying it with you, that general

    • That and there is a huge convienince factor for many people to having it all in one device. I mean I can't think of many fucntions I use my computer for that I couldn't replace with dedicated hardware. I could get some kind of thin-client, or at least a much less powerful PC for the Internet and wordprocessing. I could get an X-box for video games. I could get a digital mixer, DA-98s, processors, etc to do audio work. And so on.

      However, my PC does all these things in one spot, and I really like it. Also, a
      • You should also add that PCs are really cheap. Next generation consoles are going to cost a lot, probably about 500$ (though cheaper "lite" versions has been promised too) because they need to include a lot of expensive hardware, first of all videocards. Why put all that in a separate device, then pay for most of the parts again when you need a PVR/TV tuner when you can have it all in your computer? Consider that you need a DVD player for the console and for the media player. Why pay for both, when you can
  • The next big limitation on computer proliferation may be security. There are more and more places where you can't take a video phone. E-mail is choked with spam. PCs are choked with adware, spyware, and other hostile code. Programable phones are attracting viruses.

    Within the next two or three years, I expect to see some major security debacle, like a week of total unusuablity for the Internet, major phone system downtime, or a collapse of part of the financial system.

  • by drewz (592542) on Friday December 24, 2004 @10:39PM (#11179399)
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday December 24, 2004 @11:18PM (#11179486) Homepage Journal
    My notebook is a little too bulky and slow to start and my phone is a little too limited in input and display. My PDA attempted to cross that bridge but failed, although if I got a new high end it would come very close.

    I think the best device would have a keyboard/trackball and a screen that flips up and a docking slot that the PDA plugs into. Wireless built in to the PDA for local LAN, with a slot for WAN broadband. Standard phone rechargers, docking bay has its own powersupply.

    Max weight 2.5lbs.

    Performance roughly equal to a low end PC.
  • Meh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kesh (65890) on Saturday December 25, 2004 @12:58AM (#11179739)
    If my computer gets any more personal, I'm getting a restraining order. My penis is just fine, dammit!
  • by (213219) on Saturday December 25, 2004 @01:05AM (#11179759) Journal
    This article is nothing more than another forward looking year end article about the PC and what it may possibly become. Don't we kind of expect to read this kind of dross every year about this time. The author really has no special insight because, nobody does. The winds of change are fickle and blow at their own speed on their own terms.

    Do I doubt that the PC will change? No. Do I expect that this article will be an accurate prediction of what we will see? Hell no.

    I hope that the PC will remain a general device that can do many different things. To me, the versitility of the PC is the key to making it personal. Once you start integrating it with other things, it becomes less general and more specific to specialized tasks. When you integrate a PC with entertainment functions, it becomes a specific kind of tool - likely to be used for entertainment. If that is what you want, fine but I still like pulling up a spreadsheet in one window and surfing the net in another. Nobody else uses a PC exactly like I do and to me, that is what puts the "P" in PC.

    I can see the value in different machines to record TV shows, play games, and to do "office work" but I see another side to it too. About the only way that I can explain it is to compare it to a collection of tools. A few years ago, when I was single living in an apartment, I kept my tools in a bucket under the sink. I had everything I needed, a hammer, a crescent wrench, a couple of screw drivers and a couple of pairs of pliers. Today, I own a home. I own woodworking tools, mechanic tools, yard tools, an air compressor, power tools, and many other specialty tools. My investment in tools must come to thousands of dollars. Yet most of these tools sit idle until I need them. I'd rather not have a bunch of computers that sit idle until I actually need them.

    I want a more general single device to call a PC! More like that simple bucket of tools that did everything I need. If I don't have that, I see a huge investment in machines that I won't use nearly as often - kinda like my tool collection I have today.
  • by SimonShine (795915) on Saturday December 25, 2004 @01:19AM (#11179826) Homepage
    ..., you can have 1 Terabyte for free!
  • by isecore (132059)
    or TCPA as it's called these days.

    As far as I can see, if MS et al manages to push TCPA out the door we're all screwed. As far as privacy goes we're headed for a Orwellian society if TCPA gets accepted by manufacturers - MS will decide what software we run, what ISP we use and what we type in our email. We'll be using Freedom Operating System graciously provided by MS and munching Freedom Chocolate all the while constantly having MS monitor our email to make sure that we don't write any nasty stuff about o
  • The trouble isn't recording it.

    It's cataloging it and making it searchable. The vast majority of most people's lives aren't going to be something they are going to want to sit down and watch again later. Things, such as your daily drive into work, cleaning your teeth, unblocking a drain etc.

    In this vast morass of data, there has to be a way of searching for things you actually want. Video search at the moment is practically unusable unless you want to enter loads of metadata by hand. Same goes for photo s
  • that we will not have PCs as today. We will have servers and terminals (hello old school). I imagine something like an "iCenter" or something like that which is your PVR/digital library, audio backend, fileserver, printer hub and so on with terminals connecting up to act like "PCs". It will synch automagically and wirelessly with laptops, PDAs, cell phones etc. when in range.

    Each of these terminals are "specialized". Your video box has a video remote, your stereo has a stereo remote, and they act on

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