A (Not So) Brief History of Computer-Like Gadgets

Right now, our society seems to be in a transitory state with electronic gadgets and how consumers use them. The main issue that people and markets seem to be back-and-forth on is the argument between form and function.

Computer-Like Gadgets

In the beginning, there were desktops. They were big and their monitors were also big and even more ugly. They sat on desks where people would work on them and get stuff done.

Many, many years later came laptops which were a lot smaller. They varied in size but could typically be compared to a long and wide textbook (though not a particularly thick textbook). At first people scoffed at the lack of power of laptops compared to desktops, but over time, performance grew to such an extent that many laptops could outperform desktops.

More importantly, people marveled over the portability of laptops. You could carry them in a bag to school or to your office at work or even on airplanes to different cities. While they could sometimes feel heavy (especially with a power cord and maybe a mouse included), they were the perfect solution for a portable office.

However, you couldn’t practically carry them everywhere without at least some pain and annoyance, so people began using handheld portable devices called PDAs. After a while, people got tired of carrying a phone and a PDA everywhere, so they combined the two. While they were at it, people also decided it would be nifty to add a camera and camcorder in and allow internet access so people could virtually do everything on one device that fits in their pocket. They eventually called this the smartphone.


Let’s take a minute to look at the convenience, function, and flow of technological gadgets at this point in technology history (before the tablet and netbook). For your performance-intensive computing needs (video editing, music recording, image editing, and gaming), the most ideal choice is a desktop. It’s easy to maintain and has incredible performance potential.

If you need something portable and travel-friendly with these performance-intensive computing needs, you will have to invest in a high-end laptop. This is considerably more expensive, but it serves its niche. And of course the level of performance (and concurrently price) is based on your needs. Some people only need midrange laptops to optimally do their jobs.

For just a general calendar, planner, music player, GPS system, and off-hand internet researching device, people had smartphones. It wasn’t ideal at all for content creation (even with a slide-out keyboard) although it could get the job done in a crunch situation, and it also wasn’t the ideal screen size for a reader although it still served this purpose decently in a pinch.


Then the computing market started to realize that many people did not need computers nearly as high-end as what was on the market. Additionally, these more basic, low-spec machines could be crafted in a much more portable size (compared to all other laptops) and sell for a cheaper price. These devices, known as netbooks, came into the market right in the midst of a recession so the timing was perfect.

Only a couple years after netbooks were introduced, Apple released its iPad and thus the tablet market was born. Several comparisons have been made between tablets and netbooks. They are similar in size although tablets are typically smaller and lighter. That being said, netbooks have more function than tablets due to operating systems. Tablets operate more like oversized phones (running apps rather than major software or programs) while netbooks behave more like laptops. Yet they both overlap in pricing and size.

So here we are at this awkward transitioning point between form and function. Tablets win in areas of form: They are lighter and have more screen space than most netbooks but their function is restricted almost exclusively to media consumption. Netbooks and laptops obviously win in function: content creation is much more of a reality (you have a physical keyboard) but their form leaves a lot to be desired.

Many experts and insiders say that one must give way to the other although the market is starting to see hybrids (tablets with keyboard attachments or slide-out keyboards). In terms of determining where you fit into the market, just try not to waste too much time reading the fanboy wars between different types of technology and brands.

About Author: This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.

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