Generally, when you ask a group of people which company they believe designs the best computers, the answer is Apple. They contend that Apple's aluminum notebooks, sleek desktops and beautiful displays make the company the best of the best in the computer design world.
No more than five years ago, it would be impossible to argue with that contention. At the time, companies like Dell, HP and others were designing computers that were downright ugly. They were beige (or gray) beasts that were too heavy and too big.
At the time, PC vendors believed design didn't matter. Apple has taught us all that it does. In today's PC market, design is one of the few differentiating factors vendors can cling to. Consumers want good-looking computers because it reflects well on them. If you're sitting at Starbucks, do you really want to be showing off a boring, Dell notebook you bought five years ago? Yeah, I didn't think so.
After a while, PC manufacturers finally woke up to that reality. They understood that consumers wanted more than just Windows and a low price. When it comes to buying a PC, consumers want beauty as much as power.
Since then, PC designs have become much better. From major companies like HP and Dell to smaller firms like Velocity Micro and Falcon Northwest, Windows-based machines are quickly gaining ground in computer design. And for the first time in a long time, I'd contend that Windows PCs are just as beautiful (if not more so, in some cases) than Macs.
Are Macs sexy machines? Of course. I'm writing this on a 24-inch aluminum iMac. It's gorgeous. And whenever I see the MacBook Pro, I'm in love. Like all Apple products, it's a beautiful device.
But they're not any better-looking than products from Falcon Northwest and Velocity Micro. Do me a favor: Go to either of those companies' Web sites, find yourself a PC, and compare its design to a comparably equipped Apple machine. I think you'll find that a product from either of those boutique vendors easily makes Apple's products look like a little ugly in comparison.
It's not just boutique vendors. Both HP and Dell have come a long way in designing better machines. The HP Pavilion dv7t is a beautiful notebook, complete with a glossy finish, a neat design on the case, and the option to pick the color you like -- something that isn't possible with a Mac. If you check out the