Obsolescence

obsolete-ii

Obsolescence. It is almost a given in the high paced PC industry. The word always gives a bitter sweet feeling in the gut. On one hand, there is a certain frustration that your current PC is getting out of date. But this is coupled with the excitement of knowing that you will soon be in the market for a new one. I think we’ve all been through it.

Now that I have had my Gateway NX100X for 18 months, what parts of the computer will ultimately become obsolete? Let’s take a look.

External DVD/CD reader/writer – I definitely took a gamble on this one. Gateway wanted to design a super light, low profile laptop (like a Mac Air one year before its time), so they dropped the internal optical reader/writer. I was certainly nervous since this is my first PC going without, but I made the jump.

Did I make the right call? Yes. I certainly endured a few frustrations. The reason is that when you have a CD/DVD to read/write, the external unit is never near. Heck in most cases, it takes a while just to remember where I last put it. But when I balance these minor frustrations against the smaller form factor, I am ahead.

The CD/DVD will become obsolete shortly. People are quickly moving to downloading software from the internet rather from a CD in a box. Same for music. More importantly, the internet is changing the way that we fundamentally consume video. With all this change on the horizon, there is no way that the good old optical disk will survive.

PCMCIA – THe PCMCIA standard (also called PC card) dates back to 1991, and my NX100X has one PCMCIA slot 17 years later. I have not used it once, and I cannot imagine a potential use in the future. But it sure brings back the nostalgia. PCMCIA was a key standard in the 90’s. Originally, PCMCIA was intended as a universal method for laptops to upgrade memory. However, in the 90’s, PCMCIA slots were essential in order to add sound, SCSI, and then the all important modem. PCMCIA provided a bridge to millions of laptops begging to get online during the internet explosion of the mid to late 90’s.

In the 21st century, I used PCMCIA slots primarily for wireless networking. But now, with the introduction of the Centrino chipset with integrated networking, I predict that the PCMCIA slot has run out of its usefulness.

Flash reader – To be honest, I didn’t even know that this little bugger was on my laptop until last week. It sure came in handy. My camera has a mini USB cable that I always used to transfer my photos to my computer. Then, I lost the cable, and now I realize that the cable isn’t even necessary. Our own research also proved empiracally that the flash reader is always equal if not faster than using the USB cable.

This is one technology that is just getting started. Unlike a stagnant CD/DVD disk, flash capacities continue to grow every year. We can now fit on a tiny chip what was once an entire hard disk 10 years ago. Aside from digital cameras, we are still scratching the surface of the potential of these tiny chips. This is definitely one technology that will not be obsolete any time soon. Don’t get a PC without a flash reader.

Parallel – I was shocked to see that my NX100X (circa 2007) had a parallel port. The parallel port dates back to 1970, predating the PC itself by at least a decade. It made me chuckle to find it on my new Vista PC close to its 40th birthday. Like a hall of fame quarterback that refuses to retire, searching for his past glory. Well it isn’t going to happen. Parallel was washed up with the advent of USB 1.0 back in the mid to late 90’s. I am curious, does anyone out there still use a parallel port?

Even stranger, is that my laptop has a non standard mini parallel port. So even if I had some bizarre desire to use a 20 year old printer, I would have to scrounge around for a non standard parallel cable. It’s definitely time to hang up the cleats, but I am happy to nominate the parallel standard to the PC Hall of Fame.

VGA – Every computer in all of existence has the same video adapter. And it continues to amaze me. The VGA standard is over 20 years ago, but the plug is exactly the same as it was at conception. I can connect a 20 year old monitor to my laptop and it will work. Yes there will be driver issues, but the hardware is compatible. That is good engineering and a ton of foresight. Moreover, as digital LCD displays began to take the market, competitors tried to overtake the old boy. The competitors are now all gone and the old boy still remains. Congratulations to you VGA. I predict that you will be around for a long long time.

Modem – I have a telephone jack on my NX100X, and I will never use it. Not on my last one either. The modem is dead, and there are two assassins. First, is the incredible adoption rates of broadband. The problem with the modem was that it had and always had a ceiling on its performance. It capped at about 56kbps in the mid 90’s. Furthermore, 56kpbs was a theoretical number. Us normal people usually got somewhere close 40kbps. I am amazed to see broadband velocities continue to grow each year.

It took more than one assassin to kill the modem so quickly and completely. Enter, wireless networking. Between broadband and the 802.11 protocol, people have dropped their modems and never looked back.

Amusing tangent. Shortly after leaving Gateway in 1999, I had a meeting with some of the managers at AOL. These guys were cocky. I have met a lot of cocky people. Heck, I am cocky, but these guys took it to a whole new level. As we were drinking a beer, I said “Guys, you have a great business, but there is a big threat – BROADBAND.” They literally laughed me out of the bar. It was unimaginable that something could threaten the AOL Empire. I left humbled.

Broadband was a tidal wave to the PC industry that had many victims. Two of the largest are perhaps the modem and my good friends at AOL.

Network. Here’s a trivia question. What is the oldest standard in your PC? The answer is the Centronics parallel port established in 1970, but the network port, conceived in 1973, isn’t far behind. More importantly, unlike its older brother, the network port isn’t going anywhere. I still use the network port when traveling. Although the world is quickly moving wireless, the hotels are still reeling from retooling from the modem transition. I’m betting that it will be at least a decade before all major hotels have wireless internet. A network port should be on all of our check lists for at least 10 years.

Firewire (1394). I predict a very short life for 1394 for those of you that don’t think it is dead already. Firewire, driven by Apple, was to provide a fast standard to move video information quickly. In the 2002-3 era, I remember resorting to 1394 to move around large amounts of information because USB was too slow. Enter USB 2.0, which blows away Firewire on performance. Moreover, USB is compatible with everything, where Firewire has compatibility with just a handful of high end video cameras. The game is over, and Apple would do us all a favor if they would announce the date of the funeral. I can’t make it but I’ll send flowers.

USB. Perhaps the one technology that is the most important in a PC is USB. Back in the day, there were separate and uniquely color coded ports for the mouse, keyboard, printer, serial port and much more. USB cleaned it all up in one swoop. Then with the advent of USB 2.0, the largest problem with USB was addressed – performance. The number of things that connect to our USB ports is jaw dropping. Cameras, printers, keyboards, mice. Heck, the USB port made the entire thumb drive and external hard drive industries possible. Just today, I saw a TV commercial for the new everywhere wireless internet. Guess what technology they are using? USB, of course.

More importantly, plans are underway for USB 3.0. I can’t wait. USB promises transfer speeds up to 600GB/sec. Can you imagine making a back up of your entire hard drive in a little over a second? Maybe I’ll remember to do it more often. With this type of data, backups will become so painless that we will never lose data any more. There are a lot of winners and losers in the technology obsolescence wars, but the most important one is USB.


At any point in time, a PC is an amalgamation of technologies. Some of these technologies are in their infancy, and others are on their last legs. Some represent the potential of the future, and others represent a link to the past. Either way, how these technologies ebb and flow influence how we use our PCs and more importantly when we will need to buy a new one.

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51 thoughts on “Obsolescence

  1. koudos!!!, give that man a cigar…i agree with you completely and the ends always justify the means…just think holographics…the possibilities are endless…looking forward to hearing from you again…cj

  2. The oldest standard connection on the computer has got to be the electric plug. That’s not going away for a very long time.

    Am I the only one who dials the phone with the computer? That’s why I need a phone jack. (I don’t remember when Bell Labs invented those, but I think it was after 1970.)

    How old are headset jacks? Minis are pretty new, but the full size ones go way back, at least to the advent of stereo. Mono jacks probably 100 years or more by now.

    Save this discussion and look back at it 5 years from now – it will be great fun to see what really did happen.

  3. Re: Guybert:

    I live out in the sticks where DSL and cable are not available. Dial-up is a fright at 26.4Kb/s. Satellite via Hughes was a disaster. Satellite by Wildblue worked OK for a couple of years, but the latency (~1200msec) drove me nuts, so it’s Mobile Broadband for me.

    I’m running a no-contract unlimited data (well, 5GB/month suggested) arrangement with Millenicom.com using Sprint PCS EVDOrA backhaul that provides adequate if not astounding bandwidth.

  4. I recently upgraded my five-year-old system to a not-too-obsolete PC…AMD 4050e X2, AMD 780G/SB700 (Biostar mobo), SATA II HDD and DVD-RW, etc. The system serves me well and returns a PitStop Complete Test rating about the same as an Intel CoreDuo system running at the same speed.

    PC technology advances so rapidly that systems are essentially obsolete a week after they’re built; but, as with automobiles, they will serve for a long time if one doesn’t hunger for the latest and greatest.

  5. CD/DVD won’t be replaced by downloads until broadband is everywhere. Same goes for modems. If you live more than a few miles outside of town, you still can’t get cable or DSL, and even though satellite is faster and more reliable (usually) than dial-up, it isn’t fast enough for movie or large software downloads. Satellite also comes with bandwidth limits that get used up very quickly even with music, VOIP, or internet radio use.
    As for firewire, it’s not just ‘high-end’ cameras that use it, and USB just can’t handle the DVI stream from a camera.

  6. The only way we can get on line where I live is through dial up. No broadband available and no wireless connection. I think we are the forgotten people. So please don’t discard modems yet.

    Jean B.

  7. One seems to forget that the dialup Internet service is still the norm in many corners of Quebec. I live 40 miles north of Montreal and cannot have anything more than a verrrrry slow dialup service and nothing faster is foreseable in the near future. Let us have modems for a few years…

  8. Richard (September 20th) said:
    ” Faxes – why? I still have to fax some companies at work & it annoys me. Email should have killed this by now.”

    Along these lines, far too many companies now do their customer support via a character-limited text input box (or whatever they’re called) – one similar to that I’m now tying in.

    The amount of text one can type in these areas is all too often far too limited and prevents the users from actually asking the question they want answered. That’s OK in a blog but not really acceptable elsewhere.

    James

  9. Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate each and every one of them. I remember writing articles for Gateway’s newsletter back in the 90’s. How times have changed! More people read my Pitstop articles today than came close to reading the Gateway newsletter articles. But more importantly, I believe that this is a far more tech savvy and discerning crowd. But what I love more than anything is the real time feedback.

    No, we are not always going to agree on the future of technology but I am proud that I prompted so much intelligent conversation.

    All that said, it is my opinion, and only my opinion, that Firewire will eventually become obsolete. That is not to say that there are not many legitimate uses, but those uses are outside of the mainstream. I think it is fair to say that USB has gobbled up most of the mainstream uses.

    Thanks again.

  10. Snert stated: “Yeah, I still have a dot-matrix printer that I use for documents, and I still works just fine, thank you, but I have to hunt for ribbons. I kinda like the noisy lil’ thing. I works just fine despite being over-the-hill.”

    And as well as my a: drive, I have one of those, too. I regularly almost stumble upon it – OK, almost trip over it. Are we regressing to some older age?

    Come to think of it, either or both of my “proper” printer or scanner are USB 1.? – slow, slow, quick-quick, slow.

    A little more seriously: most of the time, if the PC looks and feels fast enough, it most probably is.

    James

  11. Something I recently got rid of and will not miss is Virtual Memory.

    No more pagefile.sys here. I buried it. Toast, Nada, No more. R.I.P. Good-bye, old friend.

    XP X64 is cool.

    Now to get some more RAM, start working on a cool Ramdrive set up, run EVERYTHING from/in memory and turn my Hardrive back into the STORAGE device that it was originally intended to be. (or take it out altogether to see how Overdrive reacts on the HD performance tests;)

    It ought to be fairly quick, too ;>

  12. thanks to all of you as always, you each share the things that are most important to the industry. With changing times and trends your advice and comments are most welcome. many thanks. john cee.

  13. dark41, why do you think flash drives are a joke. Nothing I read indicates there are problems other than price and size, which is sure to be improved. The performance I’ve seen seems to be great and although I’ve only been using them as a default hard drive for about 6 months Im not anticipating failure soon. They are rated to last longer than std. spinning drives.

  14. Don’t be so quick to throw out the Firewire. Besides high end video cameras, there’s lots of high end audio equipment that uses firewire. Firewire works well for this audio gear because the buss is not interrupted by polling for activity and sharing on other equipment plugged in like USB. Although my modern multi processor computers seem to handle this sharing on USB better than the older ones did.

  15. Gotta say, I thought Chenrob was pretty computer smart. Now I’m starting to question that.

    Every system we sell (unless otherwise specified) has a modem. I wouldn’t trade our all-in-one printer for anything currently on the market, and we use the FAX daily. Modems will be around for a long time. 20% of the world is still on dialup.

    Discs and disc drives aren’t going away anytime soon either. Blu-ray is becoming more and more affordable and will be around for a long time. It’s also backwards compatible with DVD and CDR/RW media.

    Display is pretty much whatever you want. It all comes down to the video card on the computer/onboard graphics. Our systems have both DVI and VGA. Our monitors, however, are all DVI now and require a VGA adapter.

    Flash hard drives are a joke. Flash memory/drives can only read/written so many times before failure. The speeds are great, but on a regularly used system they won’t last any longer than a HDD with moving parts.

    We don’t have a high end video camera, and wouldn’t use USB for the world since firewire 800 is still much faster and available on almost every video camera today. Firewire is here to stay.

    Kind of surprised floppy drives weren’t on that list, although we still use and sell them on our systems. The only use I have for them anymore is installing drivers for RAID and such, but until XP is gone, floppy drives remain necessary too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Decent article, thanks.
    By the way, it doesn’t matter how fast USB 3.0 will be, unless your hard drive can be read a whooooole lot faster than today you won’t be backing that thing up in less than a second. IO bottlenecks are still IO bottlenecks.

  17. I had AOL, ONCE. Faxes – why? I still have to fax some companies at work & it annoys me. Email should have killed this by now. As for the Firewire fan who claims it’s better/faster than USB2. Faster maybe (I’ve never used it) better, how? Does USB transfer the data accurately. Yes it does. I would rather have one do it all cable, than lots that shave a few seconds or even minutes off the transfer time. DVD/CD will I think/hope be eventually replaced by USB sticks, but probably not for a while

  18. Don’t write off serial ports, modems and dialup internet just yet.
    I love my broadband at home but I use my limited free dialup service:
    1. Where I vacation in the summer, where nothing but a phone line is available unless I drive to a wi-fi location. I’ll do that if I want better performance for non-security-critical access, but I’ll never access bank or other account sites through public wi-fi or from public computers.
    2. On those fortunately-very-rare occasions at home when there’s a broadband outage and I need immediate access.

    As for CD/DVD drives, I’ve considerable backup data on DVDs (more recent) or CDs (older). And I surely wouldn’t want to lose the ability to burn CDs for my car stereo’s CD changer.

    And I want that parallel port as long as my 7 3/4 year old inkjet printer continues to do too good a job for me to consider replacing it.

  19. The parallel port gets used for software dongles and programming certain equipment (like my sewing machine)

    My old DOS Roots (all the family history) needs a parallel port as well to print. – who wants to retype all those records that won’t transfer.

    In remote areas such as ours there is no option at present to dial-up so I need a modem. One satellite company offers service here but it is expensive slow and often down and service charges for resetting are astronomical.
    Just got all VHS tapes put on DVD’s
    It keeps one busy just trying to keep your data current!!

  20. What happened to a high speed Internet connection through the electrical lines in our homes? Seems I heard something about that a few years back.

    Some of us live way out in the boondocks and our connection choices are dial-up or pay bloated prices for satellite. Don’t do away with my modem!!!

  21. wow bruce , i prefer using usb for my headphone/mic as the mini ports suck, and usb is definitely superior to the mouse jacks.

    adrian it is only a matter of time before your commercial eqmt gets updated to better or should i say faster devices.
    but ford is still going to make the crown vic for police and commercial uses so i imagine those old serial ports of yours will be spared.

  22. Yeah, I still have a dot-matrix printer that I use for documents, and I still works just fine, thank you, but I have to hunt for ribbons. I kinda like the noisy lil’ thing.
    I works just fine despite being over-the-hill.

  23. I highly disagree with the cd/dvd going obsolete. One reason: home movies. Sure you have your hard drives to record on now a days but backing up and portability of a disc can’t be beat.

    The modem, one might think this thing isn’t needed anymore! What do you do in case of natural disaster when broadband services are down but the phones working.

    Firewires going to be around since they have firewire’s latest revision coming along soon.

    Rest I have to agree with. Many thanks to my + course teacher who taught me a lot of what i know.

  24. An interesting article.

    Here’s something that will make most of you splutter and scream “loser” or merely sob because you feel extremely sorry for me. My newish (May this year) PC has a floppy drive!

    Indeed, I chose one rather than a flash card reader. As I don’t have a digital camera, apart from the pathetic thing on my mobile, and always seem to lose USB sticks, I felt the floppy drive might be more useful. Maybe it’s just nostalgia.

    James

  25. At work we have specific uses for some of the devices mentioned.
    The parallel port gets used for software dongles and programming certain equipment (via a jtag emulator).

    The PCMCIA slot gets used for analysing CAN data and programming / downloading equipment.

    We even still use the good old RS232 serial port for getting downloads and programming equipment.

    The last time that the laptop computers got updated at work, certain manufacturers were not even approached as they do not provide these functions and they are essential for our job.

  26. thanks guys,heres one silver surfer
    who learns things every day due to
    reading your blogs.you give me the
    confidence to use my lap top correctly.and i enjoy trying out
    your suggesions, jono

  27. I’m really not convinced that optical discs (DVDs and CDs) are soon to be replaced by internet downloads. In the UK, typical broadband speeds are only around 2-3Mbits per second – much slower than using a DVD or CD. I estimate that a DVD movie of around 4.5GB would take a little over 3 hours to transfer across the internet. I understand that fibre optic broadband won’t be arriving in the UK until at least 2012.

  28. As for the parallel port, there are still a lot of mom and pop stores etc. using dot matrix printers, they just keep ticking. And every now and then, you still find a box of the old tractor feed paper for next to nothing!

    Why hasn’t anyone commented on serial ports, which are already missing on most laptops, but needed for certain hardware, such as cutter plotters, and also handy for transfer massive data from pc to pc?

  29. Anything with moving/spinning parts has to go. That includes IDE hard drives and optical media.

    Hard drives are slowly being replaced by SSDs – which would make the process of defragmentation useless. PATA is practically gone now. SATA will be “in” for a while.

    Flash cards are to optical media as Flash drives are to Floppy disks. Flash cards/drives are smaller, more reliable (can’t be scratched), and are growing in capacity.

    VGA is slowly crumbling with the advent of DVI and HDMI.

    Dial-up is a joke. Cable/DSL still have time to live. FiOS is taking over rapidly. Also, I agree with PeaceMarauder – AOL sucks and needs to be forgotten. I never liked it and never will.
    Also, with the adaptation of wireless (which doesn’t offer speeds at 56K), who will even use dial-up?

    I have never used PCMCIA because I use a desktop, but I haven’t seen them in use anyway, so I think its days are numbered.

    As for FireWire, I can’t really say… I want one standard for [almost] every peripheral… I’m eagerly awaiting USB 3.0.

    And MicHael, what if people had certain “download codes” that they can use to re-download their purchases. Or purchases can be saved on an account and then one can download it whenever/wherever he/she wants. That way, people don’t really need to back up their purchases because they can just log into their account and do whatever their hearts desire from there… The only problem is if people forget their passwords… :/

  30. If you think Firewire is dying think again, For those of us doing music recording, and the number of home recording studios grows every day, but certainly already a staple in professional studios, USB is toast for that area because it limits one to only two channels, Firewire can give you up to 24 channels right now and I don’t think that’s the end limit as I’ve heard 36 mentioned and more if one can afford it. And as long as we are still watching video/movies etc. The DVD isn’t going anywhere either, except maybe into Blu-ray land. Yes the little flash drives are handy but the price is going to have to drop a long long long way down before they are going to replace anything; a 4.7 gig DVD costs less than 25 cents right now, less than 20 cents if you know where to buy them, and with a DL, just over 8 gigs, which can be found for a buck or less, about what we were paying for a VHS tape a few years ago and you can record a 2 hr. hi-def movie on the DL, so when your flash drives drop down in that price area talk to me again.
    New things may be ready in the lab but not on the shelf nor price competitive for a long time yet, besides we all have to buy new TV’s first and that’s coming on fast, I predict HD TV’s as the Number 1 Xmas present this year.
    And a booming business in recycling the millions upon millions of old ones looming at the gates of city dumps, and far more illegal dump sites, nation wide.

  31. LOL

    I’m sure as hell not going to start downloading things I purchase.
    I want to be sure I have all my data correct on an original disc.
    Sure there might be some misprints or whatever, but I don’t really trust downloads that much.
    If not an optical disc, I will sure want to have some object I actually buy that exists in my hands and not just some software I download and…

    OK, I was going to say, for how would I save or backup the software?
    Most of you would say “Just burn it!”, but for the ones who would agree the ODD would disappear, you kinda contradict yourself then…

    I feel a lot better right here with my piles of original game- and music-discs.

  32. Why won’t AOL die!? I’ll tell you. I have a friend who uses AOL and just doesn’t want to change. I’ve been after her for years and years, every time she has to format due to a conflict and death of software, I say, “DO NOT REINSTALL THE AOL!!!”. Her answer? “But I’m used to it and I like it!”. Thus AOL lives on ๐Ÿ™

    I even had a friend before AOL went broadband who paid for AOL and paid separately for broadband. What does this tell you of the AOL user?

  33. I find the parallel port to still be useful in buisness equipment, and other situations. Address a parallel, it stays, move a cable, it stays, move a usb cable…. oops address gone, machine down, production down…. terminated.

    I like a ps2 keyboard and mouse for similar reasons. I find performance in gaming situations far better than either the usb counterparts.

    And as for getting rid of VGA? come on, isn’t that kinda like getting rid of the wife cause the neighbor lady’s got a larger rack?

  34. The notion of the CD/DVD being replaced by downloads and flash devices makes sense, but this last aspect is kind of ironic, isn’t it? I mean, if you look at game consoles, we moved from cartridges to CDs then DVDs and recently BDs because optical meant more storage at lower prices. But isn’t a thumb drive a 2nd generation cartridge? In other words, now that the old technology managed to catch up, we’re posed to move in the opposite direction. Plus รƒยงa change…

  35. I love the LPT port I agree I have an old Apple Laser printer from the 80’s era and still does perfect print outs. I don’t even look back on dial with DSL and wirelles gateway gate modem. I love the VGA display, I even got an LCD TV and hooked up My main pc to it and wow nice pitchure. On the side I have repairing and upgrading pentium II on up for dirt cheap for kids. Let’s keep the older hard ware alive. Vista seem to dislike the older hard ware. There ought to be a fix for that.
    Thanks for the info.

  36. hey Nick, you hit it right with the Firewire. this chengrob author is way off.
    There’s a concrete reason why all the major camera/vid manufacturers adopted Firewire(400) as standard, -It transfers large amounts of data faster/better than USB 2.0 ever could, period!
    Now Firewire 800 has been out for a while and is waiting for more industry to adopt this standard, @ transfer rates of 800 MB/s,it is again far better than the stated 600 MB/s of USB 3.0 .
    In this article there also seems to be an omission of the hard drives ultimate obsolescence… bring on full flash memory storage, I can’t wait for the ultimate price drop.

  37. Jon,
    Haven’t you ever heard of web-based desktop faxing? I haven’t had a fax machine in years and I don’t need a modem either. I sell the service, but this is not an ad…google the subject and you’ll find plenty of places to provide you with up-to-date fax services.

  38. Just as Nick stated, USB 3.0 should have 10 times the speed of 2.0, meaning it should transfer at 600 MB/s, and not 600 GB/s…although 600 GB/s would be very nice ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. I hope the Modem port doesn’t disappear. I still use it for FAXs. Seems my computer takes up enough space without adding a FAX machine to my desk. Don’t use it often, but it certainly is very handy when I need to send or receive a FAX.

  40. You are probably right about the parallel port, but I hope it stays around for a while. I still use my Epson Action Laser 1500 printer. I bought it in 1993 and it still makes the cleaner and neater copies than my best inkjet. Whenever I need ‘special’ printing, I use my old laser. It’s the best!

  41. there are a few points on which I don’t agree with you. Firstly, firewire is far superior to USB when it comes to things like hard drives and movie cameras. And it’s not limited to high-end cameras. In fact, almost, if not all consumer-grade cameras have a FireWire port. As for VGA, it’s long since been replaced by dvi. My current computer doesn’t even have a VGA port. Dvi offers superior image quality. Even dvi is on it’s way out to be replaced by displayport. Lastly, you said that USB 3.0 will have transfer speeds of 600gb/s. Ummm what?? USB 3.0 is a tenfold increase over USB 2. Which means that the transfer speed will be 4.8gb/s, not 600.

  42. Yes, there still is a use for the old printer ports. Anyone that has any old DOS programs and data archived will need a parallel port and old printer. DOS doesn’t know USB. I had such a problem occur and was glad I still had the old printer in the closet. Make no mistake, most DOS programs of the day had no Windows upgrade path so the data couldn’t be converted.

    USB-2? I hardly think it to be the end all you claim. It’s never been good for hard drives at all. I was very happy when E-SATA came out. Other then hard drives, USB-2 is great.

    And yes, I haven’t used a VGA port since I can remember, all my systems here are DVI and pretty much have been since it was introduced.

    CD/DVD? Oh, I don’t know, until movies are released on thumb drives, I don’t see it going away any time soon. Obviously, they aren’t good for archiving data, anyone that’s had a older CD (some not so old) go bad, knows this. Hard drive storage is the only good way to back up data.

    One thing you failed to mention was PATA hard drives. That tech was also with us forever and it’s really good to see it go.

    Danny

  43. I think you are right but go one step more. Computers may be obsolete. The way the new phone are coming out with faster downloads,video and internet speed, I think in 10 years most of our computing will be done by our phones.

  44. I agree that many technologies in our current computers will be obsolete soon, and for some of them, it is about time, others still have uses for the moment, prime example the CD’s and DVD’s still have uses, until the technology on the card readers advance to the point where we can have our movies and music all on them, just think on this, with the cards, we can literally have our whole movie collection in our pockets when we travel, and have quick and easy access to them, by this, I mean no delays for load up, like with discs. I think the future of the entertainment industry lies with the memory card technology, just think on how compact they are, way more than the CD’s (Compact Discs), think about it, and really look at the size difference, then you tell me which is more compact!

    Also I agree with Bruce on the firewire, and the VGA ports, I now use DVI on everything, and will be glad when a laptop will come out with at least that as an option. And what use is that ancient parallel port for now days? I don’t think I have used it since the printers and other hardware that used to use it started to use the USB technology.

  45. i concur with it all but the firewire comment by bruce.USB 2.0 performs just fine and is used by a majority of PC users as in contrast to firewire. The few folks who use firewire have highend video cameras and these cameras only have a firewire port and thus force the use of firewire. With the emergence of USB 3.0 it’s good bye firewire.

  46. PCMCIA slots have pretty much been replaced by the newer PC Card Express slots, and wireless broadband devices are becoming popular in those slots.

    As for Firewire, well USB 2.0 doesn’t perform nearly as well, and the overhead and bus saturation on USB, makes it even a worse prospect when compared to firewire.

    Firewire doesn’t have those problems and was designed specifically for moving massive amounts of data very fast. I have yet to see and USB device actually perform with the consistancy that firewire does.

    I don’t have a computer with a VGA port, they are all DVI now.

    My laptops have VGA, but I don’t use it.

    Card readers have been around for a long time now, and I have been using them for about 5 or 6 years, and have been putting them into just about all the computers I have built in the last 4 years or so, and used external ones before that. I don’t think I ever used a USB cable with my cameras.

    You article was interesting to me Rob, the different ways folks use their computers, and the hardware that is available is always interesting to me.

    I have also been seeing quite a few motherboards without mouse and keyboard ports.

    Those are two ports I really don’t like to go without.

    Using the USB (Universal Silly Bus) for keyboards and mice is just something I don’t like to do.

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