"Should we abandon desktop computers in ICT4D programs?" That is the question we asked ourselves at a recent Inveneo hardware strategy session. Should we move fully into mobile solutions - laptops, tablets, mobile phones - and stop testing, recommending, and installing our desktop computing solutions?
After strong deliberations on all sides, we came to agreement that desktop computers still have a strong demand and real role to play in ICT interventions in international development for many reasons. Here are the top 4 reasons why desktop computers can be better than mobile solutions in iCT4D:
Regardless of how rugged a Classmate PC laptop or an iPad tablet is, they are both inherently fragile. They can be dropped or broken through carelessness, and when that happens, the entire laptop or tablet must be sent back for repair - if that's even possible. Yet a desktop's main point of failures are $5 mice and $10 keyboards, which if broken are easy and cheap to replace.
An iPad can be slipped into a newspaper and removed from an office, school, or community center in a blink of an eye. A laptop can walk off in a bag or backpack. A desktop computer? Not so much. Yes, you could steal one, it happens, but a big monitor is hard to hide under a coat.
That big monitor allows 4 or more people to see the screen, allowing for a much greater collaboration between users and more users to share the experience at the same time. Desktops, and many laptops, can also have multiple user accounts, not usually possible with tablets.
The tablet may be ultra-mobile, the laptop may be convenient, but neither have the processing power, the storage capacity, and the software functionality of a desktop computer. When you absolutely, positively, need to compute, a desktop is the best solution.
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