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- Jan 10, 2015
If you believe everything you read coming out of the various analyst houses around the world the PC is on its last legs, or more to the point, the PC is actually well and truly dead since Apple used the iPad and Mac to hammer nails into its already outdated coffin.
Midway through 2013 the story was this: tablet sales were on pace to race past PC sales in just two years after selling 332 million units and thus eclipsing the pitiful 323 million computers sold. That was all before the PC began its fight back into the relevance of everyone's lives.
2-in-1 laptops plus a new breed of consumer looking to get a far better experience than the limited one offered by certain tablets mean that sales are as buoyant as ever. Chuck in the introduction of Windows 10 this July and the release of stellar new games like Grand Theft Auto V and there's more than enough to get excited about. What follows is a look at the five major reasons why the PC is still relevant for each and every one of us.
- In partnership with Microsoft, powered by the HP Spectre 360
Here's something that will shock you: PC gaming is better than your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One combined. Why? The games of course. Not to mention the far better graphics on offer. This is why the hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V on the PC outstripped that of the current gen consoles, and there are plenty of other reasons to choose a PC over a PS4 or Xbox One.
Console owners are constantly bemoaning the fact that they go out, buy the game, and get it home only to find that they have to be connected to the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live to play it. That's before the subsequent weighty update then has to be download – yes, we've kissed goodbye to the days of playing a game right out of the box. With a PC you're usually downloading the game straight from the internet and there's no fussy branded network getting in the way of your fun.
Upgrading, which we'll come onto later, is of course another way to keep your machine on its toes, and games that need better graphics will never be out of reach of your PC. That level of control over what you're seeing on-screen is something that Mac users and console owners simply can't compete with, and it means gaming on a PC is a far better experience all round.
All this is before you even consider the experience offered by Steam on PCs and with all that to think about it's little wonder PC gaming rigs are being talked up like never before.
2-in-1 laptops are where it's at
They're not strictly the "PCs" that we're usually talking about, but 2-in-1 laptops creep close enough back towards fully-fledged machines for them to be completely relevant to the recovery of the PC market as a whole. Microsoft's choice to harmonise the user experience across all devices through the release of Windows 10 means that 2-in-1 laptops will be even more PC-like than ever, and it's perfectly plausible that the power being injected into the machines will get to far weightier levels.
Intel is doing its bit by continuing to push the boundaries with chip families such as Haswell and Broadwell that consume tiny amounts of energy whilst offering the kind of power that the new breed of smaller machines need.
On the manufacturer side of things there are 2-in-1 laptops to fit every scenario such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga that targets the business users of its ThinkPad range, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 that blazes a trail for users who want a full laptop experience in a thinner device. As time goes on the popularity of these devices will do a lot to shape the PC market, and the fact they still incorporate many elements of the PC goes to show how relevant PCs still are.
Upgrades mean PCs stay relevant
Millions of console gamers across the world have stacks and stacks of DVD sized boxes plus the brick-like consoles themselves filling up their closets, and you can bet your bottom dollar none of them even considered buying a PC when the PS4 and Xbox One were on the table. Buying a PC would have meant no disposing of old consoles and games thanks to the golden chance to upgrade any components that go out of date.
That said, when it comes to upgrading some people are worried that they might end up breaking the whole machine by delving deep inside the case, yet there are now plenty of companies creating external solutions to this. Alienware, Dell's gaming arm, is set to bring a graphics amplifier to its range for the first time in its upcoming Alienware 17 gaming-laptop-stroke-desktop. What this does is allow any user to easily add GPU performance at any time, and gone are the days when games simply wouldn't run due to a lack of graphical power.
While we're talking about possible upgrades it's only right to mention the replacement monitors that will let your tower PC live on for many moons. The increased GPU performance that comes over time will need a shiny new monitor to make the best of it, and this is something that's a pipe dream for laptop, MacBook and iMac owners.
It opens you up to a future where 4K and 5K are anything but a pipe dream and even though the prices are exorbitantly high right now, just wait it out. You might even be able to bag yourself one of those bendy screens that LG and Samsung are so keen on.
Microsoft is about to revolutionise Windows
Even though the PC market is still recovering, all it is really doing is turning double digit percentage point losses to those in the single figures. This will all change once Microsoft finally takes its next evolutionary step this July with Windows 10.
Windows 10 will be a truly cross-platform experience and offer users of smartphones, tablets, wearables, "things" and the Xbox a chance to use a powerful OS built from the ground up. PC owners should be more excited than all of the above though, and the centre of the home will very much be the PC.
Microsoft hasn't always offered the most intuitive experience for those using its OS, and Redmond has done its homework with Windows 10 to make sure that the touchscreens adorning many new PCs are more than catered for. Those who still use a keyboard haven't been forgotten about either, and the Start menu's central place at the heart of the OS is a joy to behold.
Windows 10 is more than that though. It will offer constant updates to its user base to make sure that any errors are quickly dealt with. All this from an OS that will be completely free for at least one year and maybe even longer than that if users take to the system in their droves.
So the expected success of Windows 10 makes PCs even more relevant than ever, and if anything can drive PCs on to even loftier heights, the introduction and performance of Windows 10 has a big chance of proving to be a vital factor.
There's more choice than ever
If there's one thing that this article shows it is the sheer choice out there for anyone looking for a PC, and this, over and above anything else, makes the PC extremely relevant now as well as in the future. With a PC there's no way you're limited by the lack of choice offered by Apple's MacBook Air, Pro and iMac. The best part is that PC manufacturers are constantly pushing the boundaries to try and gain an advantage. And that's very good news indeed for consumers.
A few years ago no one had even heard of such a thing as a Chromebook, yet now it is beginning to quietly revolutionise not only the classroom but even the workplace by offering easy access to Google's plethora of trusty services. Another class that was otherwise absent up until recently was those 2-in-1 laptops that we mentioned earlier. Even though some will say they're technically tablets, they still have a huge part to play in the PC market.
At the other end of the market there's the super-fast and ridiculously thin Ultrabooks that bring power by the bucket load and can easily replace even the most powerful of tower PCs or all-in-ones, which are another two categories on their own. On top of the whole lot sits the behemoths of the gaming PC sector that offer unparalleled graphics and processing power to eager gamers the world over.
It's this kind of choice that continues to make the PC market as relevant as it has ever been, and you never know – those analysts could well begin to believe the hype before long.