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New PCs Distinguished by Fashion, Not Feeds and Speeds

HP's Mini-clutch was designed by fashion celeb, Vivienne Tam.

HP's Mini-clutch was designed by fashion celeb, Vivienne Tam.

At Microsoft's Open House in NYC, a tweetie bird answered tweets from her perch below a treehouse.

At Microsoft's Open House in NYC, a tweetie bird answered tweets from her perch below a treehouse.

Now that all PCs cost about the same and run about the same at any given price point, they’ve become commodities. All except the Mac, that is. The Mac is like the mythical siren, designed to lure us with gorgeous work from bevel to the box, and expecting a premium to be paid for its good looks. PC vendors now are trying (almost too hard) to compete on design and that hip elegance that’s never quite been the PC’s style.

To anchor the new fashion parade, there’s Windows 7, noticeably more attractive and thankfully speedier. If you’re interested in the main new features of Win 7, read this introduction by Ars Technica.

Commensurate with the launch of Win 7 come a bevy of beautiful machines with all sorts of radical designs. First to show off this fall was the HP Vivienne Tam clutch bag PC  (pictured above).  There is no Mac equivalent and women drool when they see it. The guts of this clutch bag sized PC are similar to HP Mini-Notes, the company’s netbook offering. Not much detail yet, but just having HP play a big part in Fashion Week was a novelty.

andamo

There was an audible gulp when Dell unveiled its Adamo XPS, an ultra-thin notebook computer that’s under a centimeter in width. That’s a pencil near the photo to give you some idea about how thin is thin.

It’s lovely to look at; more so if you’re a fan of modern minimalist anodized aluminum (it’s available, appropriately, in onyx (black) or pearl (white)). The glass screen (13.5 inches) has no framing. Edge-to-edge, it’s glass, creating a beauty of its own. After the blush was off the rose, the tech folks weighed in, pointing out that the PC felt heavier than it looked, was expensive ($1,499), and lacked an SD slot. I guess being thin has its price…both on the pocketbook and perf

ormance. For a fun read see, the Dell Adamo/MacBook Air deathmatch in PC World.

Dell Andamo 13; available only at Bergdorf's. Of course, Dell had to have an “It” machine worthy of the new Adamo name. That would be the Dell Domo 13, a special collector’s version decorated with Swarovski crystals that form an intricate bejeweled snake on the laptop cover. (Word to the wise: Do not try to put this Dell in your laptop bag.) Available at Bergdorf Goodman only, my guess is that Dell contracted this one long before the recession took hold.

Dell joins OPI brand nail polish to come up with the finishes for Dell PCs available from Dell's Design Studio.  No chipping, I hope.

Dell joins OPI brand nail polish to come up with the finishes for Dell PCs available from Dell's Design Studio. No chipping, I hope.

Much more on price point, but equally decadent, is a partnership Dell announced with OPI (a nail polish brand used in most garden variety salons, whose colors I love but whose ability to stay on my hands for more than a day without chipping is lacking). Guys feeling left out? The MLB (Major League Baseball Association) announced a number of favorite team covers. (I’d think twice if I were a NY salesman going to see that client in Boston with my Yankee studded laptop.) The cases are available for Mini, Inspiron, and Studio laptops and will cost somewhere between $65 and $85 extra.

More like a netbook, but with SONY's incredible lightness of being and gorgeous styling.

More like a netbook, but with SONY's incredible lightness of being and gorgeous styling.

Sony has built a brand on its elegant design. This year, at a crowded NYC party amidst the work of Thomas Pendelton, tattoo artists, and Cirque Berzerk (an LA based, cabaret style Cirque du Soleil), Sony announced three new VAIOs running Windows 7. Actress Mischa Barton showed up to herald three new VAIOs running Windows 7. One of the systems, the new Sony VAIO X, nudged out the Dell by a little more than an ounce to claim the title of lightest PC, but it has a 2” smaller screen so they’re not really comparable. The Sony has integrated Verizon wireless and a much heftier price tag; many observed that it’s more like a netbook than a notebook ($1,200).

Not to be outdone on color palette, Sony CW series notebooks can be outfitted with some lovely two-tone colors, and these 14-inch screen laptops start as low as $800. For more, see PC World reviews.