Dell (and Others) Trying to Catch Up with Apple's Style

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With CES right around the corner, the Wall Street Journal looks at a growing focus amongst PC manufacturers: design. With increasing competition and the clear appeal of Apple's industrial design, PC manufacturers are increasingly focusing on the physical designs for their upcoming computers. This is a sharp turn-around from the corporate attitude only a few years ago:
David Hill, Lenovo's vice president of corporate identity and design, said his teams once played a secondary role to the technical side of product development. Now designers "have equal weight at the table," he says.
At Dell, in 2001, some were even lobbying for the elimination of the Design Director job as it was seen as "unnecessary". At the time, Dell only employed 6 designers, but this number has been increasing in recent years and is up to 90 as of today.

Designers are now exploring alternative materials and industries as inspiration for design techniques. Much of this is reminiscent of earlier articles describing how Apple's Jonathan Ive spent time in a candy factory to study jelly bean manufacturing when designing the plastic enclosure for the original iMac. An earlier TechnologyReview article recounts Apple's design process over the years.


Dell XPS One

The efforts appear to be paying off for some PC manufacturers. Sony reveals that their pink Vaio has sold more than any other color. Meanwhile, Walt Mossberg gave Dell's new XPS One a favorable review and claims it "matches or exceeds the iMac in hardware design".

Design is expected to take center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which kicks off this Sunday in Las Vegas, NV. Microsoft will be hosting a PC "fashion show" during their keynote to highlight some of the best designs.

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ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,845
4,624
Their wireless keyboard has a number pad and arrow keys on it!

(or at least I think it does... kind of hard to see what keys the keyboard has and doesn't have from this angle.)

The computer actually looks pretty good I think. Except the dies... why is there so much non-screen to either side of the screen? How big is that screen anyways (and what is the resolution?)

I can't say it looks better than my 2007 iMac though.
 

Mac.Jnr

macrumors member
May 26, 2007
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homeboy

macrumors 6502
Aug 23, 2007
467
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London
Welcome to earth dell. With exceptional service and a great level of customization they have most targeted businesses and upper middle class consumers. With the pale and very boring designs they have neglected the traditional home user.

Thankfully they have realized why their computers aren't a hot topic amongst the cool kids. They are walking on the right path now, the XPS and MX1530 looks really good. But since many here are apple fan boys you will use this thread to bash Dells instead. All they need now is a design chief to create a uniform design or image for their future computers.
 

bjett92

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2007
733
1
Indy, IN
I think Dell is going to try to hard to make their products look good, and they won't match the simplicity of Apple's hardware.
 

bigandy

macrumors G3
Apr 30, 2004
8,852
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Murka
At Dell, in 2001, some were even lobbying for the elimination of the Design Director job as it was seen as "unnecessary". At the time, Dell only employed 6 designers, but this number has been increasing in recent years and is up to 90 as of today.
.....and 89 of those 90 are drunk, blindfolded toddlers... :rolleyes:
 

vixapphire

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2002
382
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Los Angeles
when you're dealing in commodities (PC's), it's pretty basic that styling would be the differentiator.

welcome to 1920, Dell! brave new world 'n all...:rolleyes:
 

DaBrain

macrumors 65816
Feb 28, 2007
1,124
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ERIE, PA
Quote:
David Hill, Lenovo's vice president of corporate identity and design, said his teams once played a secondary role to the technical side of product development. Now designers "have equal weight at the table," he says.

Not in my eyes! With out OSX IM not interested--)));)
 

vixapphire

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2002
382
0
Los Angeles
i saw a guy with an XPS at a starbucks in weho. it's pretty interesting; then again, once you go up to it and find out it's not actually a 2x" laptop but a "portable" desktop someone's hauled out for a walk like the dog, it's not so big a deal anymore.

pretty cool, though. for a Dell...
 

canisreevus

macrumors member
Jan 4, 2008
39
3
Those are multimedia capacitive keys not a number pad on the right. It also has a fn key like laptops. I would say it's a nice first effort for an all-in-one for Dell, but I certainly don't think it measures up to an iMac.
 

ZrSiO4-Zircon

macrumors member
May 30, 2007
41
0
Washington State
Just took a quick peak at dell's online order for the XPS all-in-one....
Not really a bash on the product, more on the order system. Why don't they list the clock speed?
Why do I care what the model number is for the processor? I want to know the speed! I couldn't find any easy way to see exactly what clock speed that xps ran aside from looking up the processor model through intel.

edit: Not the order system, I mean the product description :p
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
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Some of the new designs are fine (other than costing more than Macs and not running OS X). But I would NOT want cables spewing out of the side of my screen. It's no wonder the ad photos don't show stuff plugged in there.

I have no trouble turning my iMac towards me to get at the rear ports. It's light and turns easily. The cords then thread through the big hole in the stand, out of sight. (And if I really wanted easier access to USB ports I would have just gotten the regular Apple keyboard, with USB hub built in, instead of the Bluetooth one.)

It's certainly nice to see other companies following Apple's lead and improving their designs, or at the very least making a more serious attempt.
 

QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
11,118
3,891
Bay Area
here's my favorite part of Mossberg's review:

In my tests, I found the XPS One to be much better designed and equipped than Gateway’s iMac competitor, also called the One.
Taking a lack of originality to new heights. :rolleyes:
 

ckurowic

macrumors regular
Sep 16, 2007
188
0
We have already seen PC manufacturers attempt to copy Apple's designs. Such as E-machines, and those ridiculous "colored" HP's in the late 90's when the iMac first came out. From what I recall, they were huge flops.
 

Popeye206

macrumors 68040
Sep 6, 2007
3,148
836
NE PA USA
I saw one of the Dell's (XPS) in person. It's nice. Nicer than many PC's, but IMHO it's not nicer than an iMac. The iMac has a simple, clean and elegant design where the XPS is more bulky and busy. One thing I did notice about the Dells... especially their XPS laptops that are trying to compete with the MacBooks... they feel cheap! Thin plastic'y feel. The laptops felt like a toy.

It's good that PC makers (or any product designer) is taking design more seriously... it's one of the big things that makes Apple stand out... but they need to look at quality too... it's the other half of an Apple product that really makes their hardware stand out. Great design and quality.

Is it MacWorld yet? I wonder if CES will be overshadowed this year by MacWorld announcements like it was last year? :)
 
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