The Post-PC world is too slow for me

I use AVG AntiVirus Free to keep my PC clear of infections. Every so often the software pops up a little message warning me when one of my browsers is consuming too much memory, giving me the chance to restart the greedy program and free up resources. Just now it popped up a message telling me Firefox is using 1GB of RAM. Five minutes before that it notified me that Chrome, which I'm also running, was using 1GB as well.

If I fire up Task Manager and take a peek I see both of those memory hogs have nothing on Photoshop which is also running and has 30 x 12MB photos open, requiring it to use 2.6GB of RAM. I have 20 other programs on the go at the same time.

I appreciate my PC use is not typical, but it’s how I work and pretty much how I always have.

My first PC was a 286, which seemed slow to me at the time, even when I had nothing faster to compare it with. The 386 which followed was better, but only just, as was the 486 which followed that. It was only when I got my first Pentium PC did I finally have a computer that was able to work at the speed I wanted to work at. Well, almost.

Since then I have upgraded my PC on a regular basis, replacing the motherboard and processor, and stuffing in more RAM, every couple of years or so. My current configuration has an Intel 3rd Generation Core i7-3770K CPU (4 x 3.50GHz), 24GB of RAM, 8TB of disk space and two 24-inch screens. It is capable of keeping up with how I work, but every so often it struggles and has me thinking of future upgrades.

The last laptop I bought, some years ago now, was pretty decent and lasted maybe four months before I added more RAM.

I love my iPad, but without the wireless storage drive I use to store all my photos, videos and music, I think its limitations would drive me crazy. Occasionally I have to remote access my PC on it, and it’s like working in treacle.

Single Tasking Tablets

It appears every time a PC manufacturer announces a new tablet, desktop, hybrid or laptop these days it’s all about the touch screen, the way the device folds, the material it’s made from -- ooh carbon fiber! -- with the actual performance mentioned almost as an afterthought.

The Post PC world that everyone talks about seems to me, to be a world where everyone is forced to work at a fraction of the capacity they are capable of. I see people in coffee shops prodding at screens like chimps, single tasking, and I know when I dig out my iPad that I’ll be similarly constrained.

I used a Surface RT tablet just before Christmas and I liked it. I’m thinking of getting a Surface Pro (with Windows 8.1) to replace my iPad so I can get more done when away from home, but I know it will still drive me crazy with how slow it is compared to how fast I want it to be.

The Post-PC world is one where we’ve gone backwards and replaced power and possibilities with portability, prod-ability and pointless frippery… look at how this PC can be three different things -- a laptop, a tablet, a desktop!

I am willing to embrace tablets, but I long for the day when boosting their capabilities means more than sticking a larger memory card in the SD slot.

Rhombus Tech is working on something called EOMA68 (Embedded Open Modular Architecture) which will allow people to replace the CPU, memory, and other components of a tablet, which is a step in the right direction, but will any major manufacturers embrace it? No. Why would they? There's far too much money to be made selling brand new devices.

The PC was originally a modular system designed to be upgraded by users. Today’s PCs and tablets are mostly self-contained units that are designed to be sold on eBay when a new, faster model arrives.

If a major manufacturer, like Microsoft, ever released a truly upgradeable tablet they’d have my business -- and I suspect the business of a lot of people fed up with underpowered underperforming devices -- in a flash. But somehow I doubt in the Post Performance world that will ever happen.

Photo Credit: Julien Tromeur/Shutterstock

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