The PC of tomorrow will have more competition than ever in winning a place at the heart of your technological universe. But that doesn't mean that the PC will wither away into irrelevance--far from it. Computers are shaping up to become ever more specialized, and although they'll appear in innovative new forms, even the traditional desktop system will be with us for years to come, say the senior executives and industry experts we spoke to. Nevertheless, a peek at your future PC may not reveal what you expect.
Eight-core processors, huge hard drives, the prospect of external graphics cards, and bigger and more affordable displays loom on the horizon. While some of the most tantalizing elements, like 20-terabyte drives or flexible full-color displays, are still a ways out, some of the must-have technology you've had your eye on may be closer than you first thought: Next-generation notebooks with detachable mini displays, for instance, are just around the corner.