Slideshow

In Pictures: 13 PC technologies that need to disappear, stat!

Some technology hangs on long after it's needed

  • Time marches on, but some PC technologies don’t know when they’ve worn out their welcome. While we applaud motherboard manufacturers for helping us extend the lives of our hardware, we also realize that we’re paying for many components that we’ll never, ever use. So we’ve rounded up a baker’s dozen of legacy technologies that no longer serve much of a purpose. Begone, obsolete tech!

  • 1. Parallel ATA (PATA) PATA (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment), also known as IDE (Integrated Device Electronics), is so old that you might never have heard of it. Originally designed as an interface for mechanical hard drives and optical drives way back in 1986, the standard was superseded by Serial ATA (SATA) more than ten years ago. So why is it still making appearances today?

  • 2. PS/2 connectors IBM introduced this mouse and keyboard connector in 1987 with its line of PS/2 personal computers (in a failed attempt to recapture its dominance of the PC market). Since the ports were not designed to be hot-swappable, plugging a mouse or keyboard into a powered-up PS/2 port carries the risk of damaging your motherboard. Today, most mice and keyboards connect via USB, so why are PS/2 ports still so common? Because some security-conscious companies disable the USB ports on their employees' computers so that the staff can’t smuggle out sensitive data on a USB thumbdrive. I say make those corporate fat cats buy a special motherboard and save the vast majority of us some cash.

  • 3. PCIe x1 slots We need multilane PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) slots for video cards and other advanced peripherals. Single-lane PCIe slots are about as useful as nipples on Batman's suit. Go away!

  • 4. FireWire (IEEE 1394) Apple designed this high-speed serial bus, but you can find it—along with USB ports—on most PCs as well as Macs. Despite being a high-performance technology, it never really caught on in the PC industry, and the vast majority of external hard drives use USB. Excise it!

  • 5. USB 2.0 USB 2.0 was the bee’s knees—at least until USB 3.0 came along. USB 3.0 delivers higher speeds and more electrical power to attached devices. So who needs USB 2.0? Let’s get rid of it!

  • 6. eSATA SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) delivers the highest speed with storage devices inside the computer, so why not use the same standard outside the computer? The problem with eSATA is that the cable doesn’t carry power to the external device. Internal SATA relies on two cables: one for power and one for data. Since eSATA never caught on with consumers, and since now we have USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt (both of which are plenty fast and deliver power to attached devices), it's time to play a dirge for eSATA.

  • 7. eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port To save room on the I/O panel, many motherboards feature ports that combine eSATA and USB 2.0. Their function changes depending on which cable the user plugs in. We applaud the innovation, but thanks to USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, we no longer need these combo ports!

  • 8. Memory card reader When was the last time you physically removed a memory card from your camera and plugged it into a memory card reader on your computer? Most people will respond, “Never!” When I need to transfer photos from my camera to my computer, I connect the two devices with a USB cable. If I were a more frequent photographer, I’d invest in a memory card with an integrated Wi-Fi adapter and ditch the cable altogether. Banish the memory card reader!

  • 9. Optical drives Okay, this one might make the Luddite community uncomfortable. How will you ever rip DVD and Blu-ray movies, and your favorite CDs? Who the heck rips anymore? Embrace the digital revolution! You can find plenty of online sources for both high-def movies and music these days. And the last time I bought a game on disc was 2009’s F.E.A.R. Dump the disc drive!

  • 10. VGA Yeah, we know that corporate road warriors remain wedded to the precious VGA port. But why make the rest of us suffer for it? Surely corporate America has made enough profit over the past five years to be able to afford to upgrade its boardrooms with new projectors and monitors. Just say no to VGA!

  • 11. DVI Being digital is no longer enough—especially when you need a second type of digital interface and cable (that is, dual-link) to support the native resolution of a 30-inch display. Give me DisplayPort (with multi-streaming, so that I can daisy-chain several monitors) or give me death!

  • 12. Analog surround sound Be honest: When was the last time you contemplated connecting an analog surround-sound speaker system to your PC? The industry tried to make the process easier for us with wireless surround speakers, but even they gave up on the concept. If you connect speakers to your PC at all, you’re most likely going to choose a 2.1-channel system, so all you really need is a stereo output (because the crossover for the sub will be in the speakers, not in the PC). And if you really want surround sound, buy speakers with an optical input. Whack those unused audio ports!

  • 13. The mouse? Just kidding. Touchscreens and touchpads are great and all, but I need a good rodent for playing games. To paraphrase the late Charlton Heston, "You can pry my mouse from my cold, dead hand!"

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