Apple’s own television commercials have a child who uses an iPad but doesn’t know what a computer is. What does that say? An iPad is not a computer? Apple’s own website says iPad is “Like a computer.” And, “Unlike any computer.”
OK, let’s go with that. If iPad is a computer, or even merely like a computer, does that make Microsoft’s Surface PCs a tablet? The answers are a bit complicated but let’s go with the obvious. It depends.
First of all, let’s go with the basics. If you can slap a keyboard onto an iPad and use Microsoft Office, then iPad is defined as a computer. A personal computer, although some may argue with that definition because PCs can do what iPads or tablets cannot. Yet, both iPad and other tablets can do what traditional PCs cannot.
So, iPad is a computer. So are the Surface notebook tablet hybrids that Microsoft and other PC makers herald as tablets. Are they tablets? They can be used without a keyboard– like a tablet, or like an iPad– so, yes, they are tablets.
Yes, iPads are computers. Yes, Surface-like hybrids are tablets.
Here’s the deal. An iPad is not as good as a traditional personal computer as, say, MacBook Air. macOS runs applications that are more powerful– Photoshop and Illustrator and Final Cut Pro, I’m looking at you– than you can find on iPad. We can argue the same for Windows as a PC, but not Windows as a tablet. Who wants to run Adobe Creative Cloud apps on a Surface-like notebook tablet hybrid– as just a tablet.
Likewise, the power you find in such Windows and Mac applications are not found on iOS and in the App Store. Yet, the iOS App Store has many more applications than macOS or Windows combined, so choice isn’t a problem.
This whole argument boils down to the basics of personal computing. What do you want the PC to do? If it’s Photoshop, for now Adobe’s flagship app sucks on Windows-based notebook tablet hybrids, and is not yet available on iPad Pro. What about spreadsheets? Excel runs on both iPad and notebook tablet hybrids, but who wants to edit spreadsheet cells by using a combo of fingertip, finger, hand, wrist, arm and elbow, and shoulder, when the keyboard makes it easy peasy?
iPad is a computer but it has limitations so it is not a powerful personal computer; desktop or notebook, in the traditional sense, and with specific applications. Likewise, a Surface-like notebook tablet hybrid– sans keyboard– does not a gloriously powerful tablet make, and such devices pale in significance and capability from Apple’s iconic iPad.
So, can we end this argument already? An iPhone and an Android smartphone are both computers. A Windows PC and a Mac are both computers. iPad and Surface Go (and other hybrids)– with or without keyboards– are computers. Which you should use depends upon what you want a computer to do.
End of rant.