Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Aren't PCs as Pretty as Macs?

If you walk into an Apple store, and you manage to find the corner that sells Macs, you'll find some fairly attractive looking machines. A lot of them aren't big black boxes, for example. Why can't I buy a PC that looks like this?

You probably want me to say that gaming PCs are designed to be attractive. That's true, as long as you believe that any money spent on appearance looks good. Alienware right now is selling desktops that look like alien insects. That's not what I want, though. I want a machine that tries to blend in and look nice at the same time. The current round of iMacs do this admirably.

Maybe a gaming PC isn't the answer? I can imagine that. Gamers who want to slaughter thousands of cartoons might not want something attractive. How about a high end home theater system? Voodoo PC makes some right now that are designed for exactly this. Are they attractive? Well, they're still big boxes, but, since you're paying $5k for them, you get to choose any color you want, and it's got a cute display on the front.

No, I'm not looking for this. I want a PC that was designed from the ground up to look good. I want a piece of furniture that does what it has to do and doesn't take up any more of my attention than it deserves. It's got an on button and a DVD drive. It doesn't deserve my attention.

Is cost and performance a problem? If a desktop manufacturer has to use notebook technologies to cram everything they want in an unusual form factor, perhaps things are either too slow or too expensive to sell.

I doubt this is realistic. Voodoo PC manages to sell $5000 home theater PCs. I'm going to guess that they could use some notebook technology and not lose much of their profit margin. Performance isn't that important for the PC that I want. All my PC does is surf the web, play DVDs, and occasionally edit photos. I'm even willing to pay extra!

Is there a technical problem with this? Perhaps the ATX motherboard specs force PC manufacturers to have a large rectangle available for the board, and they can't make the crazy shapes that Apple can get away with. While this is a reasonable cop out for a small shop, what about large manufacturers? Dell might be screwed because people don't normally get to see Dells before they buy them. A PC like this would be centered around its appearance. Then what about HP? They could afford to make a motherboard in whatever shape they wanted. Users would get to see the machine in the store before they buy it. It'd be just like a piece of furniture.

Could copyright restrictions be the problem? Apple is extremely possessive when it comes to its designs. Is it possible that I'm too picky, and Apple has prevented anyone from making anything remotely similar to their machines? I sure hope not!

So far, I'm not coming up with any answers. I hope someone out there can shed some light on this.

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