It’s an amazing time to be seriously into technology, now we’ve got four major platforms to interact with. (mobile, tablet, laptop, and PC) But do we really need to have them all?

The PC, the laptop, the tablet, and the smartphone mean so much choice, so very many options for the end user. But do we really need every single one of them, or are we simply over-purchasing?

A Reason For Existence

Arguably, there’s a reason these products exist – not because they’re marketed to us in a way that leads us to think we need them, but because they fill actual holes. Smartphones are brilliant, quick, touch-capacity devices, capable of fitting in a pocket. But what happens when you need a larger screen? Or a keyboard? They can only be taken so far before they become inconvenient.

The same goes for the laptop versus the PC – the reason laptops exist is because you either don’t have the space for a PC. They do come with a power compromise, however, which means that the inevitable conclusion of a discussion leading with “my laptop just isn’t good enough for this software” ends in “I need a PC.” It’s the same reason you’d buy a four-man tent instead of a two-man – you just need more sometimes.

Tablets are the one platform that feel like they shouldn’t really sell as well as they do, but given we grew up marvelling at the convenience of table-type devices in Star Trek and other sci-fi films and TV programmes, it’s inevitable that we would love a digital slate to mess around with. They’re incredibly convenient whether you’re playing games or showing a client a series of designs. Tablets also sit perfectly between the ease of use of a smartphone and the power and screen-size of a laptop.

Indispensable or Inconvenient?

The problem is carrying all of these devices around, as it can weigh a ton. But when you’ve got a PC at home, a laptop at work and a tablet and smartphone in your bag, it averages out and you’ll rarely feel over-encumbered – just very well-equipped.

Some argue that we’re becoming too attached to our technology, that we’re staring at smartphones when we should be talking, but the reality is that this technology is the way we interact. Teenagers are socialising through their phones because it’s the easiest way for them to connect. People use email instead of snail mail for the reason the latter is named after a somewhat slow mollusc. As we advance, we change what we’re carrying with us and what our day-to-day technological set-up is. Progress, not inconvenience.

The other advantage of this technology is that we can build software for each and every platform. Some software works better with certain hardware – Angry Birds and touch-capacitive displays are a good example – and it means that having that variety of hardware is very important. Some software developers aren’t always designing for a specific platform, and sadly this does result in apps that feel a little odd in the way you interact with them. However those who really “get” tablets, or laptops, or smartphones, software that’s platform-specific can be a fantastic experience – especially with compatible versions of the same software optimised for and released on all the platforms you own, meaning you’re never without it.

It’s arguable that we may not need four platforms, but you’d be hard-pressed to debate the fact that a lot of us find them to be a convenient combination of features and hardware, portable and not, large and small, touch-capacitive and mouse-friendly, that suit our various technological tasks over the course of any given day.