Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Oct 2010 16:00 UTC
In the News An interesting discussion is currently raging through the world of computing, or more accurately, through the world of bloggers and analysts. It basically comes down to this: should the iPad be included in laptop and desktop sales figures? If it is included - Apple becomes the largest PC manufacturer in the United States. But, if the iPad should be included - why not the modern smartphone?
Thread beginning with comment 445515
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Special vs General
by telns on Mon 18th Oct 2010 17:54 UTC
telns
Member since:
2009-06-18

I'd break it down as special purpose vs general purpose.

iPads, smartphones, Android tablets, many game consoles, etc. are all special purpose computers.

An iMac or a PC are general purpose computers.

Tablets are less specialized than they were, but I don't think anyone would seriously consider getting an iPad for all of their computing needs, unless they had only very specific needs (ie, not general).

A general purpose computer, in addition to web browsing, ought to be capable of all the other "general" computing tasks like word processing, publishing/layout, spreadsheets, database management, financial management, photo, sound, and video editing, programming, playing games, etc. and it should be able to do them all acceptably well [for its time period].

Obviously, the user doesn't have to do every one of those things, but the hardware and OS should be capable of doing them decently. The short version is to be a PC, it needs to be a jack of all trades, not a specialized tool.

*EDIT*

I thought of a useful metric. Not perfect, but handy. If it comes with a text editor and can print, odds are it is a PC. If there is no text editor--or the closest thing is a "notes app"--and you can't print, it isn't a PC.

Edited 2010-10-18 18:01 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Special vs General
by WereCatf on Mon 18th Oct 2010 18:03 in reply to "Special vs General"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

A general purpose computer, in addition to web browsing, ought to be capable of all the other "general" computing tasks like word processing, spreadsheets, database management, financial management, photo, sound, and video editing, programming, playing games, etc. and it should be able to do them all acceptably well [for its time period].

Obviously, the user doesn't have to do every one of those things, but the hardware and OS should be capable of doing them decently.


So, if there is no OS or the OS is not capable of these things/doesn't allow them then it's not a PC? Thus, a desktop computer without an OS installed is in fact not a PC until there is an OS on it? My my, that's a rather arbitrary definition and doesn't quite work well.

The fact is, OS can be removed and/or changed in most cases, including smartphones. By your definition they'd be PCs once the OS can handle it, and a desktop computer wouldn't be a PC if there was no OS yet on it.

Also, the performance of the computer in question either doesn't define what is a PC and what isn't: even an old i386 is still a PC even though it's inadequate by today's standards. Just as is a modern low-end desktop computer; even if it didn't play all the latest games and CAD applications it's still a PC.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Special vs General
by telns on Mon 18th Oct 2010 18:46 in reply to "RE: Special vs General"
telns Member since:
2009-06-18

I very specifically mentioned "for its time period."

The 386 time period was quite a while ago. Can you imagine anyone selling a new i386-based device now for anything other than highly specialized tasks? I didn't say 386s aren't PCs. When they were sold, they fit the bill for all the general computing I mentioned.

The OS is an important part of what makes a computer general purpose or special purpose. I had in mind a Mackie processor a friend uses. It is absolutely standard, commercial off-the-shelf PC hardware on the inside, but the OS it runs is D8B. By your definition it is a PC, by mine it is a special purpose tool.

My argument is that PCs are general purpose tools, and to be that they have to run general purpose OSs. Stick on a highly specific specialized OS (ala D8B), and it may cease to be what I would label a personal computer.

Reply Parent Score: 2