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For the past ten years or so, we've been careening to a Star Trek-like future, where all our computing is done in a simple, hand-held device. Smartphones let us bill hours via apps, tablets let us port word processors around as easily as a magazine.
But if you want to experience the future, you might want to look to the near past. The desktop PC, that humming, churning plastic box from the '90s, has suddenly jumped to the forefront of innovation.
As laptops, tablets, and smartphones have taken over an increasing share of the computing market, desktops have been largely left behind -- until recently.
"With nothing left to lose, desktop makers are rethinking what a stationary computer is good for," the Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler reports. "Now you can draw on them, stack them in modular pieces, or use them to surround your head in pixels." The future of desktop computing is far removed from the boxy, budget PC running Windows 7 in a sad, florescent-lit office. Hell, so is the present.
HP, for example, has a PC with a massive, curved screen. Using it is a bit like computing on an IMAX theater, according to Fowler. Microsoft, now that it's moved into hardware, has released an elegant, though expensive, touch screen PC.
Some computers are looking more like home decorations than PCs. The Pavilion Wave, for example, resembles a small speaker or sculpture, allowing it to disappear into the background, while still offering decent computing power. And it costs about as much as an iPad.
The current PC evolution is fueled by several well-timed developments, according to Fowler. First, large screens are cheap, and if there's one place where PCs outperform their hand-held competitors, it's on screen space. Second, Windows 10 has allowed programmers to integrate touch and other inputs more easily. The cloud, too, has changed PCs, allowing them to become smaller and sleeker as the tough computing gets handled in a server farm somewhere in Iceland.
What's this mean for legal professionals? You might not need a touch screen or a sleekly designed computer (though they're both cool), but almost every lawyer could use more screen space. Now you can get it, without having to clutter up your office with two or three separate monitors.
These new PCs' huge screens can let you multitask with ease, spreading docs and windows and projects across your screen like you might have once scattered files across your desk.
Does this mean you have to run out and buy a new PC, or give up your beloved tablet? Of course not. But if you're in the market, now is a good time to experiment with some of the personal computer's evolving, cutting-edge forms.
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