If you can’t see the resemblance between the HP all-in-one PC and the iMac pictured above, please head directly to the comments and begin screaming. There’s nothing I could say that would sway you anyway.
For everyone else, I need to get something off my chest: It’s this pattern of PC makers ripping off Apple with their designs. Though it’s by no means a new issue, it’s come to a head recently with HP’s Spectre One all-in-one PC, and with the wave of Ultrabooks and upcoming Windows 8 hybrids hitting the market.
Not every PC maker is guilty, but when it happens, the resemblance is hard to ignore and painful to see. I say this not as an aspersion-casting Mac user, but as a longtime lover of Windows PCs.
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For laptops, the similarities usually come down to the use of light gray aluminum, black island-style keys, a frame with gently-rounded edges, a large, clickable trackpad and a tapered shell. For desktops, it’s the black frame around the display, the L-shaped aluminum base, the slim keyboard with curl-around stand and the equally-sized trackpad that looks like it could attach at the hip with the keyboard.
I’ve heard all the counter-arguments: Apple didn’t invent island-style keys, it doesn’t own the idea of thin-and-light, it can’t patent aluminum, and so on. Those are valid arguments, to a point. Any one of these similarities would be passable on its own, but when you look at an entire design, the more Apple hallmarks a product borrows, the more of a copycat it becomes. It’s a gray area, for sure, but lately I think PC makers have crossed the line too often.
I’m a PC user. I have a Windows desktop and a Windows laptop, the latter of which I plan to replace with a Windows 8 tablet-hybrid within the next few months. Though I do use an iPad, I could never get used to Mac OS X and have no intention of switching to Apple for laptops or desktops.
So here’s the problem: I don’t want my next PC to look like an Apple product. Not that there’s anything wrong with Apple’s designs. They’re stunning, but they’re unmistakably Apple–or at least, they should be. This may be vain, but when I go to a coffee shop or invite people to my home, I don’t want them to eyeball my tech products and assume they were made by Apple. I want them to realize that PCs can be beautiful too, but in their own way. I want to take pride in my PCs.
PC makers should take pride in their work too, which means coming up with designs that don’t look like those of another company. And yes, it’s possible to create beautiful computers that stand out, even when minimalism is at work. Allow me to submit a few examples:
Here’s the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Thin, light, and made from rugged carbon fiber. Doesn’t look like a MacBook Air:
Here’s the Samsung Series 9, one of the first Ultrabooks. But instead of aping the Air’s sterile aesthetics, it has its own design flourishes, such as the looping pattern around the base. It comes clad in a strikingly dark material, called Duralumin, which is stronger than aluminum:
Here’s the Vizio All-in-One PC. Sure, some iMac users are probably howling at this one because of the aluminum and the standalone trackpad. But the base station, bezel and keyboard designs are all unique (no island-style keys, either), and all the input devices have a stockier black undercarriage that isn’t as airy as Apple’s:
I could go on, but the point is that it can be done. PC makers can achieve design beauty without aping Apple’s signature style. Let’s see more of that, and not just for my next computer, but for the sake of giving Apple enthusiasts one less thing cackle about.