What makes a "full computer"


I'm engaged in a lengthy debate with a friend about what constitutes a "full computer". He says that the definition of a full computer is constant across users. I say a full computer depends on the user's needs. If someone can fulfill their computing needs with iPad Pro, then for that user, an iPad Pro is a full computer. He says that person just doesn't need a full computer.

So we pressed into the concept that there is an archetype for a full computer. We determined that hardware was not a characterizing factor. You can connect keyboards, mice, and external monitors to most devices. While mouse would exclude iPad and support his position, he said the Surface RT wouldn't be a full computers yet supports mice. He says a Surface Pro constitutes a full computer, so form factors also don't dictate full computer-iness.

Next we examined software. He said that Windows PCs and Macs are both full computers. So it's not Win32 apps that make a full computer either.

After continuing the process of elimination he began to zero in on a particular quality having to do with the capability of the software and that there aren't artificial limitations imposed by the platform. We couldn't quite nail things down exactly, but I tried to summarize it:

The bar is software. That can do things not-full computers can't. There aren't artificial limitations on what software can be run. Full computers don't necessarily have to do everything better than not-full computers, just the certain things that make them full computers.

So what do you guys think? Is the definition of a full computer the same for everyone, or does it depend on the user?

If the definition is the same for everyone, where do you draw the line? If say, an iPad isn't a full computer to you, how can it cross the threshold?

For the sake of the discussion, please, if you're looking to troll or start a flame war, just move along. That snarky or inflammatory comment you're drafting in your head? It's been done before. The goal isn't to pit Microsoft against Apple here. Google users, don't feel left out, we just didn't address Google platforms in our discussion. Android and ChromeOS are relevant here as well. It's okay to use specific devices or platforms as an example, but don't get hung up on just one example. Do your best to generalize.

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