Everyone keeps saying my good friend, the desktop computer, is going the way of the dinosaur. With phones and tablets, and now some weird mis-mash of lap… tab… things the surface spawned there are more ways to get things done outside sitting at a desk than ever before. I think the desktop, as powerful and inexpensive as they are to maintain, simply needs to take a different approach than what it has in the past. With all the current technology surround tablets, televisions, and Wi-Fi, we can use the desktop to service many different users at once. Let me lay out my vision for desktop PCs.
As powerful as you can build pc’s these days coupled with how little processing power most people are using I think the modern desktop could easily support multiple users. Most people are watching Netflix, browsing Facebook/twitter, or doing very light gaming (think app gaming.) My desktop, that has had its board and processor changed over two years ago, could support all of those twice over at the same time. The only problem is getting these activities distributed around to the users. This is something that tablets and wireless displays can help with.
For this layout, we don’t need the full processing power of your average tablet, so let’s just call it a wireless display. What we need, is basically the screen, the digitizer for touch input, and enough of a processor to display simple file structures or app controls. This isn’t going to be a full tablet or even try to be a full computer. These relatively low cost devices would connect to the home’s Wi-Fi to display files, apps, and other navigational functions from the desktop computer. You wouldn’t need a hi-resolution screen for this because the actual content display could be handled by existing home televisions.
For actual viewing of content, you can use the same tablet to control wireless display casting to televisions around the home. From my desktop now, without any of these screens, I can send movies up to my room mates Sony television. Once it begins, he can even control the content from his television remote. This can be done even while I’m playing high end games on steam, like The Witcher: 3 and Fallout 4. Using TV’s with wireless display capabilities for viewing content, you could build a control screen for around the 150$ mark easily. Think an apple TV with a small screen for touch controls that you don’t have to connect to your TV, because it’s transmitting the info via the Wi-Fi your TV is already using. If you wanted to create the same thing but view content on the device, you could make a more expensive version, but as nothing more than a wireless display for remote content viewing, you could keep the cost very low around 300-350$.
This makes the desktop a much better device than a family of separate tablets. You’re still going to need local storage for a lot of your content. With the multiple user accounts Windows offers, this already gives them an advantage in moving to this style of use. The wireless control screens will be cheaper to purchase and repair than tablets now and give users the flexibility to meander around their home while still having local access to their content. This keeps cloud storage use down. With the desktop being accessed remotely, it also frees the space that was once dominated by the computer desk in the home. The desktop can be placed discretely within an existing media closet, or tucked away from high traffic.
What price would wireless displays have to be for this to make sense for your home? Would this give your desktop more life?