In a tangent on my post about lateral upgrades, Rob mentioned that it took Apple to realize that people might want laptops in some color other than black or gray. David commented that there are people that will never get a ThinkPad (The Trumwill Choice) because of their unattractive exterior.

I want to push back, but I really can’t. Not to denigrate the virtues of their OSes or the non-superficial aspects of the products themselves (they have their merits), but Apple has pretty clearly demonstrated that they are correct. But I want to push back due to both aesthetics and the unimportance of aesthetics. On the aesthetic end of things, I actually like the way that the ThinkPads look. I like it to be boxy and unshowy (and unreflective!). Aesthetically, my favorite smartphone far-and-away is the Droid, which gets knocks on its appearance. My current smartphone is smoother around the edges and I guess looks “better”, but if I were choosing based on looks alone instead of the things that Windows Mobile can do that Android can’t, I would go with the Droid.

But mostly I want to object because I don’t understand why it should really matter what the exterior form is so long as it is unobtrusive. And so I look at these devices that intentionally try to look interesting and neat and good and just roll my eyes. I noticed this most recently when I was putting together my newest computer. It used to be that computer cases came in beige and that was pretty much it. At some point there was a transition to black, which I mildly prefer aesthetically but don’t really care. My only real complaint about that transition is that it made my old CD/DVD drives more conspicuous because they were beige while the rest of the computer black. Then silver came along, which is fine though I still wish they would just stick with one color because now there are three colors that I have to coordinate. Not to make my computer look good, exactly, but to make it look, well, inconspicuous, which to me is all that should really matter.

I miss the good old days when a computer case was meant to house a computer. There were no pointless LED lights and colors on it to make it “look better” and crap like that. The computer is not the centerpiece of my computer room. It’s something that does computing.

I suppose I am not entirely immune. The last time around I went ahead and got a black case rather than have a patchwork beige-silver-black computer. But it wasn’t a choice I should have had to make, dag-nabbit. If everything was just beige, I could simply get the case that works.

On the other hand, if my laptops came in different colors, I suppose I wouldn’t have to use electrical tape in order to be able to tell them apart…

Category: Server Room

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3 Responses to Give Me Beige

  1. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    Given that aesthetic concerns drive hardware choices with respect to the primary unit and monitor, why is so little thought given to aesthetics of other peripherals like scanners, printers, or even mice? I can’t remember ever seeing a printer that has the benefit of strong design; even Mac-compatible printers are fugly.

  2. trumwill says:

    Some thought was put into my Canon printer/scanner combo’s appearance. My Samsung, however, is pretty utilitarian. Beige. Plain. Perfectly functional. What more can you ask?

  3. web says:

    I remember when people who wanted their cases to be works of art had to get out the can of spray paint and do it themselves 😛

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