Open Office suite has a particularly powerful and easy to use drawing component built in. Once the drawing is complete it can be integrated into the word processing or presentation section of the suite. Open Office is free so does not have to change formats and layouts to sell the next version, but keeps on improving on the last update. As it's free and backward compatible there is no reason not to use the latest version 3.3.
As the suite has a common base and all the other sections are added on, it means it will run quite happily on a pentium 3 with 256mB RAM.
Further to Clive's discussion on Process control there is a small $40 device that is an educational tool but is quite capable of serious work, on the market. It is the "Arduino Diecimila' and is shown in the picture. A USB port on the left is connected to a computer for programming. By the thumb is a terminal strip that is used for the inputs (switches, sensors etc) outputs (leds, relays, actuators etc) communication (RS232, PWM etc). Once the device has been programmed using a simple instruction set it can then be put in 'Run Mode' and disconnected from the computer. The program should keep running for up to 40 years. As the output signals are tiny a simple amplifier circuit may be required for useful applications. If all inputs and outputs are rated at less than 48 volts there are no safety issues.
More information at Arduino Homepage
As Apple's iPad-2 has just gone onto the market they are clearly trying to stay ahead of the competition. It is faster, lighter and has camera's, which is partly to hold off the Android invasion. Apple's iPhone held the lead for two years but Google's Android has recently overtaken it. Apple are trying to keep ahead of the game with their Tablets.
The competition includes Google's Android, HP's WebOs, RIM's Playbook and Fujitsu's Meego. Microsoft has Tablets based on Win 7 but heavy hardware requirements and prone to viruses put it out of the race. Maybe Win 8 which will run on different hardware will help but could be too late. Competition has meant technological advances are swift and large pondering companies can fall quickly, like Nokia.
As newer Tablets can use external monitors (TV's) and wireless keyboards (remotes) the PC's future for households is looking bleak. Games are played on Game Consoles. Office suites and Picture Editors are run from the 'Cloud'. Files can be saved on Flash drives or External USB drives. There is no need for a large unreliable desktop computer anymore.