Are Computers Only Paperweights when They Don't Fulfill the Needs of the User?Over the course of the last several days I have read a multitude of articles on the Internet claiming that, without an Internet connection, a computer is nothing more than a paperweight. In general, it appears that many of these authors had decided to limit their focus to the new Chromebook series, being marketed by Google, which made me question if all computers should be evaluated using such standards. In considering this, I believe the argument begins when we discuss tablets and smart phones in comparison to the traditional desktop or laptop computer.

In my opinion, trying to compare these devices to each other is ludicrous. It is like comparing a radio to a television wherein both devices provide a form of entertainment but in a completely different way. One must acknowledge that with the use of either of these devices one can stay on top of current events, but the way in which they deliver this content, to the consumer, is completely different. While radio is perfect in some settings, like the office or car, televisions deliver the same audio information but add a visually interesting aspect to the presentation. This comparison is so simple to understand that no one tries to suggest that one is better than the other or to compare them in the same category.

With this in mind, why would anyone want to spend their time trying to dissect and compare traditional computers to the specialized devices that we now find available in the marketplace?

According to the author of an article in the New York Times, the Google Chromebook he tested was basically worthless because it currently requires an Internet connection in order to function. Another person supported this view in their comments by inaccurately stating that you couldn’t listen to music or watch a video without an Internet connection. These comments were apparently submitted by people who have never used either the Cr-48 test computer nor the new Chromebook itself or they would have realized their error as I have put mp3 files onto a USB drive and played the songs effortlessly. However, I do realize that there are still some issues that Google needs to address including how to use its assortment of utilities, such as Google Documents, offline.

Having said that, I believe that each of the newer devices, whether they be Apple’s iPad, Google’s Chromebook, or one of a variety of devices from smart phone companies, will fill a specific need for specific people. However, it is important that they not be compared to each other or to the traditional desktop or laptop computers as each has its limitations. For example, the Apple iPad fills a need for the consumer requiring the ease of portability, Internet connectivity, or for the user wanting to limit their use to playing games. The good news for Apple is that the masses already understand this, which explains why Apple is struggling to meet demand for the popular iPad.