The Weekly Round-Up: Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, PCs are from...

Erm, somewhere cold and unlovely...

Erm, somewhere cold and unlovely...

If, when it comes to relationships, men are from Mars (arid, bereft of emotional intimacy), and women are from Venus (mysterious, stormy), then so it must follow that computers are from Uranus: cold, forbidding and very user-unfriendly.

It's been a tough few weeks for the PC: hitting 30 and already people are whispering that it's over the hill, replaced by those hip young tablets and smartphones instead (talking of smartphones, check out our 20 essential iPhone apps for business travel.) Even one of the engineers who designed the first PC said it is now going the way of vinyl and typewriters.

And now HP is now considering spinning off its PC business, PC sales are soon to be eclipsed by internet enabled TVs and games consoles. Phew! And if that wasn't bad enough, the PC has now been accused of being "arrogant, unfriendly" and the architect of its own downfall.

Another happy PC user

Another happy PC user Photo: Shutterstock

The Little Britain catchphrase "Computer says no" resonated with a nation of frustrated computer owners for a reason - it was recognition that too often it is the PC that calls the shots, not its user, said a silicon.com columnist this week, driven over the edge by yet another inscrutable error message from the annoying boxy beige menace in the corner of the office (that's his PC, not Derek in sales).

Mankind has always had an strange relationship with the PC: we office workers spend more time gazing into its flickering monitor than gazing into the eyes of our beloveds, and more time caressing its keyboard than is really healthy.

We share our lunch with it (just try banging the keyboard upside down on your desk to see what I mean), and share with it our most secret thoughts.

And yet, for all that, we don't trust it. It repays our lack trust by wilfully crashing when you haven't saved that spreadsheet you've been working on all morning, just so you have to go back and do it all again.

So after three decades of wrongfooting users, crashing and generally being a bit of a pain, it is all over for the PC?

As is often the way with such columns, this one has generated quite a discussion, the response from readers has ranged from "I couldn't agree more" to less flattering comments which sound a bit like "bullocks".

Read the full story of the confusing, frustrating PC for yourself and decide.

And it's not just the PC we've lost faith in this week. Could it be that at least one person has fallen out of love with their iPad too?

Yes, it's incredible but true: read the five reasons why another silicon.com columnist has got the iPad blues this week.



A Touch of tablet fever

The TouchPad tablet, HP's webOS-powered iPad rival, caused some excitement earlier this week: retailers' websites buckled under the pressure of shoppers desperate to get hold of one, while rumours of where to find one rippled across Twitter.

Just how did HP manage this marketing coup?

Simples! They just...

...slashed the price of the six-week-old device from £349 to £89 for the 16GB TouchPad, and from £429 to £115 for the 32GB model, after abandoning the product which only launched last month. Oh, and don't bother rushing off to try and find one - they sold out pretty rapidly indeed. Great news for the lucky shoppers, and another reflection of how unassailable Apple is in the tablet market? Well, yes and possibly no, in that order.

Could it be that this has shown the way for some brave rival to come in and really challenge Apple's lead?

No, not by having a product in the market for less than two months before changing strategy, but by getting the pricing right - for more, read the full story of the HP TouchPad firesale, and maybe the beginning of the end of Apple's tablet dominance...



Christmas shopping anyone?

Yes, it is still the summer (although you wouldn't know it by peeking from under your umbrella), and yet, 121 days until Santa comes tumbling down your chimney, the Round-Up has received its first Christmas related press release.

Ho, ho, and ho.

One in three consumers will do more shopping on their smartphone this year, as the popularity of shopping and browsing on mobile devices continues to increase. Just under half of consumers will be buying presents using their phone, too, according to the research by eDigitalResearch and IMRG.

One in three shoppers will spend half of their Christmas budget online, while one in four of us will do up to three-quarters of our shopping on the web.

The Round-Up, who as ever will be buying all of his presents in a desperate Christmas Eve dash, is in equal measures irritated and impressed by these super-organised people.



Gadgetry galore

And finally this week - a bit of eye candy for you all, in the shape of some of the gadgets unveiled this week. Check out Samsung's four new Android smartphones including the Galaxy M Pro, and see RIM's latest addition to the BlackBerry 7 range, the BlackBerry Curve 9360. And if that's not enough, take a look at our list of the 20 most wanted features for the iPhone 5, and take a trip down memory lane, from the Palm Pre to the HP TouchPad, with our gallery of webOS devices through the ages.

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