What’s a computer? A Mac? A PC? Some mainframe the size of a gymnasium? My first computer was a terminal attached to a computer I never saw. My first personal computer was an Osborne 1, circa last century, running CP/M.
Thankfully, those days are gone, and as is the case with various product generations, definitions have changed, too. We’ve read the argument that an iPad is not really a PC. If so, is a PC really a computer?
Let me start with a basic definition and move it forward to some of the computers we use.
A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A “complete” computer including the hardware, the operating system (main software), and peripheral equipment required and used for “full” operation can be referred to as a computer system.
By that rather broad definition, a mainframe was a computer and my old Osborne 1 running SuperCalc, WordStar, and dBaseII on CP/M was, well, definitely a computer.
What about iPad?
Sorry, folks. An iPad is a computer. iPhone is a computer. Now, get this. Watch is a computer, too, and relative to some of the PCs we owned in the distant past, rather powerful for its size and capabilities.
I’m here to put to rest the notion that an iPad is not a PC; a personal computer. Which is more personal? iPad. Which is more personal; iPad or iPhone? I would have to go with iPhone. Yes, one can argue that Watch is even more personal that iPhone, albeit quite a bit less capable.
I bring this up– again– because of this headline on a slow non-impeachment news day. Ed Bott:
iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 6: Can a tablet-laptop hybrid really replace your PC?
I am officially on record as against that kind of terminology in a general and mixed-company setting. A Mac is a PC in the sense that it defines a specific breed of computers. A tablet is another breed. iPhone is another. Watch, yet another. See?
Tablet-laptop or notebook-tablet hybrid? Computer.
Apple and Microsoft have followed different paths, but their latest laptop replacements are strikingly similar. Can either one succeed as your next mobile productivity device?
The proper answer is the same as always. It depends.
Without a touchscreen, the Mac notebook cannot be a notebook-tablet hybrid while a Surface-whatever can. That does not call for a war between the platforms. A Mac remains a PC. A Dell XPS-whatever or a Surface-whatever are still PCs. They are not tablets, even if they have some capabilities of a tablet (touchscreen).
All are computers. We can specify which breed with a slightly different naming scheme, but the end result is the same.
The iPad Pro still appeals mostly to those who are firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 is most satisfying to those who require a traditional Windows PC. And anyone who expects to cross effortlessly from either world into the other is doomed to be disappointed.
Conversely, Surface Pro 6 sucks as a tablet, but it can be used for one, though not with the same measure of capabilities as an iPad Pro, or even a lowly $329 iPad.
None of that matters. All are computers. It’s time we get over the competition of comparison.