What the Heck is a PC?

By  |  Friday, February 10, 2012 at 9:47 am

Over at TIME.com, I did my darndest to do something that seems to be nearly impossible: Define “PC” in a way that makes sense for 2012 and beyond. (The comments are interesting: A couple of folks apparently believe that anything that isn’t a powerful desktop computer is not a PC.)

 
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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Fred Says:

    I'm not sure the iPad meets your own definition of a PC, given that this is not entirely true: "The owner gets to define the device’s capabilities by installing software on it."

    But I'd argue this is more a liability of the definition than the iPad.

    PS Please tell your new Time-Warner overlords that Tynt is a cancer. That they use it is a reflection on their ethics, or lack thereof.

  2. John Fenderson Says:

    I don't consider the iPad (or non-jailbroken iPhones) a PC for this exact reason, actually. I think of the iPad more of a specialized computing appliance. I don't think it's a fault in the definition of personal computer, nor of the iPad.

    100% agreement about Tynt. I just block tynt-stuff, but I do lose respect for sites that use it anyway.

  3. LazlowStPierre Says:

    One guy had the odd idea that having a huge cooling system with fans and huge heatsinks was important to qualifying his computer as a PC. I think these guys are just out of touch with the average person and their computer needs and wants.

    Most people I know have 2 computing devices – a low to mid end Windows laptop and an iPhone/Android phone. Just because you can't use it for rendering 3d graphics for movie special effects or play Skyrim on it at full HD and all the graphical bells and whistles turned on doesn't make it not a personal computer.

    If anything, devices like iPhones and Android phones are much more of a PC than the beige Windows boxes of old. First of all, they can do far more than my old Packard Bell 150Mhz 32Mb 1.6Gb HD could do, and more importantly they fit in your pocket! That's much more personal than a big ugly plastic box that is confined to a desk at home or work.

  4. LazlowStPierre Says:

    "I'm not sure the iPad meets your own definition of a PC, given that this is not entirely true: "The owner gets to define the device’s capabilities by installing software on it." "

    Although the iPad is obviously constrained in your ability to install software on it by virtue of only having apps preapproved by Apple on it, if you have a PC at work, the chances are it's far more locked down by your IT guys when it comes to what you are allowed install on it. Does that not make it a PC anymore?

  5. Amber Thompson Says:

    Since PC, actually means personal computer, the question is moot.

  6. E_H Says:

    The computer at work isn't a "personal" computer but, a business computer…

  7. John Fenderson Says:

    As the others have said, it's not a PC so much as a BC. But even beyond that, it still meets the criteria that "The owner gets to define the device’s capabilities by installing software on it." It's just that the business is the owner, not the employee.

    The difference with iPhone way is that unless you actively circumvent the phone's security by jailbreaking, you can only do things with it that are pre-approved by the manufacturer. That certainly keeps it from being fully personal, at least for me.