PCP: Against Laptop + Computer

Ryan Samlalsingh - 2T Computer
Posted on: November 25, 2017

What does your average week as a UW engineering student look like? Of course, there’s a boatload of class-hours and coursework, plenty of time spent hunting for co-op positions, and any number of additional time stresses or considerations you elect to impose on yourself. Why should any of us want any extra, unnecessary complications to our life? That’s what using both an okay laptop and a good desktop accomplishes for your personal computing needs, and that’s why the optimal computing solution is to have a reliable laptop. Good laptop, easy life.

Being a UW engineering student with a mediocre laptop and a good desktop is a logistical hassle. Moving every four months makes it hard to guarantee that one has enough space in any living quarter to comfortably accommodate a desktop and essential peripherals such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. What would happen if the only apartment you could take for a co-op job has no room for your desktop setup? Ideally, you’d keep your desktop setup with a family member or friend, but since it’s not in your living space, it’s of no use for the next four months. Even if there were space for it wherever you find work, moving even small desktop PCs are a pain, and you might risk having a weak or clumsy handler accidentally smash the desktop you’ve put money and effort into maintaining if you’re traveling via aircraft. Even if your laptop weighs ten pounds, it’s far easier logistically to have one laptop as it’s will certainly be easier to transport and store no matter where you end up living for co-op or school terms. You’ll never have to consider if there’s enough space for a desktop setup.

In your day-to-day, it’s also far easier to just have one good laptop, and not a laptop-desktop combo. One laptop means one filesystem, so there are no synchronicity concerns. Imagine the frustration of having a bunch of assignment files you recently updated on your desktop, and not have them accessible on your laptop when you want to work on them away from home. These situations can potentially be mitigated by using USB storage for important data, or cloud storage, but unexpected complications like corruption or inaccessibility to these services are real possibilities that can leave you high and dry when you need your files. You’d also need to anticipate what files you need synchronized, which can cause more frustration if a needed file wasn’t synchronized. Two computers also mean two computers to keep updated, and two different set of computer issues to troubleshoot. All students operate under time crunches and have enough to worry about without having to worry about troubleshooting two different set of computer problems, or if they can access their files, which would be quite bothersome to the less tech-savvy among us. Having one laptop allows you to use everything you have, at any time.

Lastly, it is likely cheaper and just as satisfying to own a good laptop versus having both a laptop and a desktop. Most people who advocate having a laptop and desktop are gamers or media creators, because if any desktop that has the same performance as a laptop, the desktop will be cheaper, and the laptop can be used for light work like web browsing or doing assignments. But how much performance do you need to be content? Is it worth it to spend 2000 dollars on a desktop and laptop if the desktop can complete some task in 20 seconds, and the laptop completes it in 1 minute, or would you rather spend 2000 dollars for a good laptop that can complete the task in 25 seconds? Also consider that the laptop in the combo has a 6-hour battery and the good laptop has a 10-hour battery? The performance of the good laptop is nearly equivalent to the desktop and the desktop is cheaper, but has better battery life than the mediocre laptop that comes in laptop-desktop combo. It’s hard to imagine anyone who was satisfied with the performance of the desktop would be dissatisfied with the performance of the good laptop, so even though desktops have the most performance per dollar, a good laptop will likely be a better value for most people, especially since they can have all the power they want, wherever they are.

Having a good laptop is a better choice than having both a mediocre laptop and a good desktop because it’s easier to handle logistically, easier to keep track of the files, and for the same price, it’ll be more satisfying in terms of performance and portability. Especially as busy students, we don’t want more complications than we need, and using a laptop-desktop combo can cause a lot of headaches for the minimal increase in satisfaction it provides.

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