Any keen gamer will tell you if you want to keep up with the latest technology in the world of gaming PCs or consoles, it’s not cheap. Doing so means either regularly upgrading as new, better chips and other elements are released, or buying whole new machines. A top of the range gaming PC with the latest processing and graphics card technology comes in at about £2000. A professional class business laptop will also set you back upwards of £1000 and is usually replaced every 3 or 4 years with a new model.
The latest cloud and virtual computer technology means the need to replace or upgrade computers may soon be a thing of the past. As will the need to have different computers for different things, like owning both an Xbox and PC. While in its early stages and with plenty of issues to iron out, this is already happening.
French company Blade’s Shadow app hopes to do to your computer(s) what Uber did for taxis and Netflix for television. The app’s promise is that in the same way as we can log into our email or social media account from any smartphone or computer, we will be able log into our computer from any device with a screen and internet connection. It means our smartphone or TV would be turned into a high performance PC with all of our files or programmes available. Something ordinarily far beyond the processing power of graphics capabilities of these devices could be carried out on them, like using CorelDraw or playing Call of Duty.
So how does Blade’s Shadow app work? User’s, through a subscription, own a virtual computer hosted in a data centre. This virtual computer can be logged into from anywhere. At the moment the Shadow app is compatible with Windows PCs, Macs and Android and an iOS version will be released soon.
One obvious concern of a virtual computer that holds all its owner’s data is privacy. Blade promises that it does not look into users’ Shadow computers to see what they have been doing or collect their data. However, this is clearly something that the company and its future competitors will have a hard job reassuring potential clients over.
User reviews of Shadow also suggest while the app shows enough potential to provide a tantalising glimpse into the future it still has some way to go if it is to iron out technical issues that still exist. Problems with the virtual computers audio feed and touch input and slight mismatches between the Shadow’s resolution and the screen of devices it is being used on have been reported. The biggest problem, however, is that it only works well with a consistent and high bandwidth internet connection. And no internet connection, no computer.
However, as 5G mobile networks, and whatever may come after them, start to become a reality and Blade and future competitors iron out glitches in the current technology, virtual computers like the Shadow app will gain traction. Within a decade or two there is a high probability that the days of replacing and upgrading multiple computer devices will be thing of the past!