The home office is going through a startling evolution. Home office PC sales are at their lowest numbers in their history, thanks to the rise of tablet computers and smartphones, which offer unprecedented convenience, mobility, and power. You could even say the connected home of today is barreling toward a completely new paradigm: People would rather use their mobile devices for such activities as email and other forms of communication, and beyond. In our home, the PC is touched less and less often—only when we need to actually produce some kind of document, whether that’s in Microsoft Word or Excel, or a similar kind of productivity task.

Of course, this line of thinking is exactly why Microsoft came up with its line of Surface tablets, particularly its Surface Pro tablet, which I’m writing this column on. A productivity-based tablet created as an alternative to the more consumer-focused Apple iPad and Google Android-based media tablets, the Surface provides a bridge for those of us who still value the ability to do processor-intensive work on our devices, from the aforementioned Office-based tasks to much more demanding jobs such as video work and development. The Surface is a grand notion, but for whatever reason, it’s not catching on with the buying public. You might say that’s because of a general distrust or even dislike of Microsoft in general, but I think the truth runs deeper.

Do we live in an age when productivity has taken a back seat to frivolity and entertainment? It seems we used to be a culture, not too long ago, that valued work first and earned its play time, and that was reflected in the devices we used and how we used them. We had our desktop PCs and Macs, or our high-powered laptops, that we used in devoted spaces in our homes, whether that was in our home office or in our bedrooms. We used them for our letters and our spreadsheets, our documents and our databases, our music collections, and our data storage. They contained our digital lives. And in the evening, we saved our work, shut those machines off, and enjoyed our family time. When we consumed media, we used wholly separate devices such as TVs and stereo systems and game consoles.

(Read the rest at Residential AV Presents: Connected Home.)