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February 11, 2011

Design, Style & Technology Converge at Fashion Week

You’ve probably heard the saying “the clothes make the man (or woman).”   It’s true; clothes aren’t there to simply shield us from the elements, they are the front-line of self expression.  Today’s Windows PCs are the same way.  They are not just tools to get work done, connect and share with friends, and stay entertained.  Rather, they are works of functional art – well designed, well built accessories in a huge range of sizes, colors, materials and form factors – that are as unique as the people who use them. 

It’s a hot trend that’s getting a lot of buzz in the fashion world.  Yesterday I spent the day talking about the evolution of PCs as functional art with over 300 of the world’s most respected fashion journalists at the Independent Fashion Blogger Conference at Fashion Week in New York City.  To illustrate my point, and show how Windows and Windows Live brings the two worlds together I brought with me 8 of my favorite fashion-forward PCs, all of which look great, perform well, and cost under $1000:


Gateway ID49c:  Gateway, now part of Acer, has really stepped up the quality of their design.  I brought the ID49c because of it’s slim profile and brushed aluminum finish, and because it features something completely unique – a trackpad that glows when you click it.  It’s a really interesting inclusion that helps the ID49c stand out from the mid-range laptop crowd. 


ASUS U36Jc:  I just blogged about this PC but wanted to bring it here because of it’s sleek styling. The U36Jc is incredibly thin (only 19mm) and light (about 3.5lbs) and it’s soft-touch black finish has a refined, professional look that can be “dressed up” for business use or “dressed down” for casual everyday use.  Just like a black blazer or a little black dress, it looks perfect with just about everything.


Dell Inspiron duo:  A pair of dark jeans, for example, can go with a t-shirt on a lazy Sunday, a crisp shirt for a day at the office, or a bright shirt and tie for a Spring cocktail party.  The Dell Inspiron duo ( of which I wrote the world-exclusive first review) is just as versatile; use it in it’s “typable” mode to create content, write a long email or IM in Windows Live Messenger, or flip it into it’s “touchable” mode for browsing the web or watching video.  It’s one PC that works in multiple ways – just like your favorite pair of jeans.


HP Pavilion dm1z:  Not only is the brand new, just-blogged-about HP dm1z a great looking, well built PC, but it performs great, too.  It has an AMD “Brazos” APU for outstanding graphics and processing power and gets over 10 hours of battery life.  Perfect for anyone who wants to look great on the road.


Lenovo IdeaPad U160:  The IdeaPad U160 is one of the most stylish little PCs on the market today.  It has “big PC” specs – 4GB of RAM, a 320GB drive and a Core i5 processor – in a very compact 11.6” package, and it’s brushed, patterned aluminum chassis has a degree of style that’s normally not found in a PC of this size or price (they start at $799).  The one I brought to the IFB is red, but the U160 is also available in a beautiful chocolate brown and a very subtle but striking midnight plum.


Samsung SF510: Samsung’s new SF line is one of the most impressive examples of sharp design I’ve seen in a while.  Even though the PC starts well under $1000, it has a premium look and feel – check out the elegantly curved case, the chocolate brown interior with etched aluminum trackpad, and the delicate ivory case color.  It looks great, performs great, and is priced great. 


Sony VAIO P:  The VAIO P is the ultimate digital clutch.  It comes in a variety of eye-catching colors like white, black, orange, green, pink and even crocodile print, and it’s form factor makes it portable enough to slip into a jacket pocket or carry in a small purse.  It’s perfect for quick-burst tasks on the go, like updating Facebook or Twitter, writing a short email or looking something up on Bing.  And it has an optical touchpad on the screen bezel so you can use it like a full-size GPS!


Toshiba NB505:  Powerful.  Portable.  Colorful.  The Toshiba NB505 netbook is all three.  It’s powerful enough to handle all of your on-the-go activities, and with a variety of bright casebacks to choose from, beautiful enough to land a spot as a go-everywhere accessory. 


How important was style to you when you purchased your PC?   Do you agree with the idea that a PC is as much a tool as it is a statement of personal expression?  Leave a comment and let me know…I’m heading off to check out the runway shows!

Have questions about any of these PCs? Hit me on Twitter, leave a comment, or send a question to “Ask Ben Anything”. Your question might appear in my monthly Q&A column!