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?
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RE[5]: It cannot be included
by WereCatf on Mon 18th Oct 2010 20:18 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: It cannot be included"
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

Do they meet a significant number of other PC characteristics, such as upgradability, expansion, and choice of software to run?

Obviously, a laptop is as upgradeable as a laptop is: you may upgrade memory and internal drives, and connect peripherals, but that's it. And yes, there are Windows, Linux and Mac laptops around, all without an optical drive.

There are hard-and-fast rules on what makes a PC a PC, and violation of a single rule makes a system not a PC (Thus making a whole range of PCs suddenly not-PCs, which isn't correct), or, following only a single rule makes it a PC (despite only obeying a rule slightly).

So, what are the rules and how many of them one must fulfill in order to be a PC, then?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: It cannot be included
by Drumhellar on Mon 18th Oct 2010 23:07 in reply to "RE[5]: It cannot be included"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Rules? I would say...

1: Upgradability. Can you put in a faster processor? More ram? Bigger Disks? Better monitor?

Desktop PCs satisfy this extensively. Laptops not so much, due to physical restrictions. Even with Laptops and Netbooks, replacing RAM and the hard disks is usually painless, and with some laptops it is possible to upgrade the processor or graphics.

This is impossible on an iPad, and with Smartphones, one can only add storage.

2: Expandability. Can I add capabilities? Cameras? Alternate methods of Input? Clickier keyboards? TV Tuners? Extra ethernet ports?

A PC satisfies this aspect. With PCIe, USB, and Firewire, I can add TV tuners, a 3D mouse, external storage, extra networking (either ethernet, firewire, or USB), printers, modems, scanners, card readers.

The iPad supports a physical keyboard currently, and SD cards (Not compact flash, or other formats). Other stuff may come, or maybe not. It depends on what Apple feels like doing. I would consider the iPad only satisfying this at the absolute minimum.

3: Software flexibility. Can I run whatever OS I like? Can I choose my own software? May I choose where I get my software? Can I develop software?

A PC satisfies this fully. I can run Windows, MacOS X, Linux, FreeBSD, etc etc. I can choose what software I wish to run without a third party deciding ahead of time whether or not it's okay. I can also freely develop my own software without limitation.

The iPad famously falls flat on its face in this regard. Software is only available through the Apple Store, and only if Apple deems it acceptable. Development for the platform must be completed on another system, and only to those who pay a fee. I can't load just any 'ol program on my system. This is a severe artificial limitation.

All these are standard trademarks of PCs, and even in early PCs in the 80's, this has been the case. Even in the most limited, restrictive fashions, these attributes existed to a much, much larger extent than they do on the iPad.

I did not choose these three criteria with the goal of excluding the iPad; these are what I expect from a PC, and people who know far less about computers than I do expect these things, even when they have no idea how they'd use them.

Alternatively, there is a more mundane definition: A PC is a type of computer meant for the desk (but not exclusively used on it, in the case of portables) that features a keyboard, mouse, screen, internal storage, and connections for external peripherals. An iPad has only the screen (though it is a touchscreen). No, the on-screen keyboard is not a real keyboard; it is only a simulation, and it doesn't count.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[7]: It cannot be included
by WereCatf on Tue 19th Oct 2010 00:09 in reply to "RE[6]: It cannot be included"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

1: Upgradability. Can you put in a faster processor? More ram? Bigger Disks? Better monitor?

Desktop PCs satisfy this extensively. Laptops not so much, due to physical restrictions. Even with Laptops and Netbooks, replacing RAM and the hard disks is usually painless, and with some laptops it is possible to upgrade the processor or graphics.


Okay, without focusing on any specific component that could be upgraded and instead of just the device itself generally being upgradable: many laptops are not really very upgradable yet are still considered PCs, by general populace and by experts. I have once had to repair a laptop which had everything in it really locked in tight and glued so as to try and force you to buy a new one even when you just wished to change the hard disk.

This is impossible on an iPad, and with Smartphones, one can only add storage.

Not really. Most smartphones can be plugged to external displays too and thus they are mostly just as upgradable as any laptop.

2: Expandability. Can I add capabilities? Cameras? Alternate methods of Input? Clickier keyboards? TV Tuners? Extra ethernet ports?

Okay, this is a trickier one. Most smartphones can be expanded with alternate input methods, but that's mostly it. Though, my N900 atleast is a different beast here: it can be connected to webcameras, various kinds of input devices, network devices and what-not, either through bluetooth or USB. I don't know if there's any other smartphones out there though that can do the same.

But in a few years? It's actually quite likely a common smartphone will start satisfying this requirement too.

3: Software flexibility. Can I run whatever OS I like? Can I choose my own software? May I choose where I get my software? Can I develop software?

There are a few smartphones out there that do satisfy this requirement, including mine. Granted, iPad clearly doesn't.

Atleast you provided a rather clear set of rules by which you define a PC, and iPad doesn't satisfy those rules. My N900 however does, and I wonder how many other smartphones and/or tablets do.

Reply Parent Score: 2