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Sexy Intel Computer Design Worth Big Bucks 269

An anonymous reader writes From a BBC article, "Intel is offering $1m in prizes to designers and manufacturers who can come up with sexier alternatives to the "big beige box". The competition is open to PC designers and manufacturers worldwide and each company may submit up to five different designs. The grand prize winner will receive $300,000 (£159,000) to enable the mass production of the system and $400,000 (£212,000) to co-market the design with Intel. The runner-up will receive up to $300,000 to help with manufacturing costs."
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Sexy Intel Computer Design Worth Big Bucks

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  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:12PM (#16222117) Journal
    Especially if they have flat tops.

    I hate looking at some gaudy colored box in some has-been trendy shade.

    The only think worse, is when they have an odd shape so that a CD case slides off the top. If it is going to be ugly you might as well be able to stack stuff on it.

    • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:38PM (#16222403)
      I don't think we should stop there. I want my TV curvy, my amp, my speakers around the room... in fact, the whole room, the floor, let's do away with flat.

      Or maybe I'll just look at what's on the screen instead, and leave the computer case itself not screaming out for attention. If I ever want everything curvey for a while, I'll just take some of the special mushrooms :-)

    • by 47Ronin ( 39566 ) <glenn AT 47ronin DOT com> on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @08:14PM (#16222737) Homepage
      Instead of trying to innovate the outside which everyone has tried (and many fail to do), why don't people work on getting the INSIDE fixed?

      I've seen many so-called "pretty" ATX cases that look fancy but the moment you open them up its like staring at the devastation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Cables snaking and twisting everywhere, sharp metal edges and plastic tabs, screws... its a geek nightmare.

      Some may deride Apple for the design of the Mac Pro case, but if you open it, you will immediately notice [] that they REALLY spent some time designing the layout of the interior parts. Heck even the the old Sawtooth generation G3/G4 towers (circa 1999) had that nifty side-handle design where the motherboard sat on a hinged door.

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy @ g m a> on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @08:50PM (#16223081)
        Some may deride Apple for the design of the Mac Pro case, but if you open it, you will immediately notice that they REALLY spent some time designing the layout of the interior parts. Heck even the the old Sawtooth generation G3/G4 towers (circa 1999) had that nifty side-handle design where the motherboard sat on a hinged door.

        The PowerMacs are certainly nice, but there's no shortage of PC cases - in both full-PC and component guise - that are just as good.

        Our Dell Optiplexes, for example, are laid out basically the same as the Macs and just as easy to work in - albeit not quite as pretty (the drive sleds don't have covers, stuff like that).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bcat24 ( 914105 )
          Yeah, all the Dell PCs I've had the (mis)fortune to be working on are really nice and clean on the inside. Whatever you think about Dell, they put some thought into their case design.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by engagebot ( 941678 )
          I don't know...

          I've been an IT guy for a while, and have worked on many a' Dell in my day. I just got a new Mac Pro at work though, and I've never seen any machine built as nicely. you have to crack one open yourself to believe it.

          if you think the build quality of a mac pro == the build quality of a GX620, you have issues.
      • Define "pretty"?

        Personally, I like most of the Antec cases (p160, Sonata II, Overture II). I think they're doing a good job of silent / quiet computing by moving things around and putting 120mm fans in.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ColaMan ( 37550 )
      The thing about a big beige box is that it's very useful. Big size, lots of space inside to cram all that microelectronics.

      So if they get some sexy new design, will it take all my bits without drama?

      Sexy boxes seem to be smaller, curvier and you never really know if that new card or motherboard or extra drive is actually going to fit without some metalworking skills. Normal size XT,AT and ATX cases were just one of the standard bits that helped make an IBM compatible machine compatible.
  • Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by setirw ( 854029 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:13PM (#16222123) Homepage
    Are its machines not "sexy alternatives to the big, grey box?"

    They run Intel processors, too.
    • by setirw ( 854029 )
      That ought to read "beige box." I was thinking about my own InWin q500, which is more grey than beige.
    • Re:Apple? (Score:4, Informative)

      by )parenthesis( ( 939478 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:39PM (#16222411)
      The system has to be VIIV compatible, and (sadly) Apple's machines are not part of that branding strategy. The main missing component? Windows Media Center Edition. It's one of the integral components of the VIIV brand. (another thing that is missing is the Matrix Storage Technology from Intel.... but nobody really cares about that)
    • Re:Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @12:53AM (#16224823) Journal

      Are its machines not "sexy alternatives to the big, grey box?"

      Yes, my first thought on reading the story was: Why bother? Just cut to the chase and give Jonathan Ive [] the money. I'll bet the next case he does for Apple will be better than anything that comes out of this contest.

  • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kawahee ( 901497 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:14PM (#16222135) Homepage Journal
    Why don't we use what we've got already? If you want a box with curves you buy a box with curves. If you want a box that's going to sit there and look like you're not a gamer by profession then you can buy a normal box.

    Or just buy an Intel Mac.
  • ahem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Audent ( 35893 ) <{audent} {at} {}> on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:15PM (#16222147) Homepage

    just deposit the cash in my account, OK?

    Is it really this hard? I went to a trade show about five years ago and saw funky PC designs from some division of Hyundai that were orange plastic pyramids and things of that sort... It's Not Hard, just get on with it. Hire a designer, fer cryin' out loud.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by The MAZZTer ( 911996 )

      I like this one myself. Yes, technically it's a computer. :) Although not Intel...

    • Re:ahem (Score:4, Funny)

      by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:33PM (#16222353) Homepage Journal
      Have you SEEN the Mac Pro? I know a lot of people like it, but I really don't. I think it's rather utliarian, grey and ugly.

      Go ahead, Apple fanbois, mod me down!
      • The MacPro is trying to overwhelm you with GERMAN INDUSTRIAL MIGHT [].
      • I agree. The Mac Pro is a horribly ugly, grey, utilibrarian machine.

        However, the PowerMac G5 is an beautiful, silver, understatehood work of art.

        They both come with built in native spell-check for all major applications.
    • Why is this flamebait ?
    • SGI (Score:3, Insightful)

      SGI also had a few mighty fine designs for their desktops, but looking at their product range now it seems like the gave up on the desktop. Some links: o e=utf-8&sa=N&tab=wi []

      Another old design which still looks good comes from what was NeXT: []
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:16PM (#16222165)

    If they want to give Apple an extra million bucks, why don't they just do it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 )
      If they want to give Apple an extra million bucks, why don't they just do it?

      The machine has to be an Intel ViiV-platform PC.
  • Limiting Factor (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kotukunui ( 410332 )
    Just remember, unless the sexy new design can be stamped out in a factory in taiwan for the same cost as a biege box, it will be consigned to a niche of "interesting" designs and ignored as an oddity. Why do you think off-white is such a popular interior paint colour? Because its cheap and it doesn't clash with any other colour.

    There are already cool, sexy pc case designs out there, but the biege box still rules. I suppose that Intel are trying to force this design into being a "success" due to their compa
    • Re:Limiting Factor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by westlake ( 615356 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:33PM (#16222349)
      There are already cool, sexy pc case designs out there, but the biege box still rules.

      I would have said it is Dell's wolf gray and black box that rules.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by binarybum ( 468664 )
      Leave the innovation to niche manufacturers like Apple.

        From Intel: We tried this, but then they went rouge and released a gigantic cheese grater. It was funny for a little while, but now we feel that something needs to be done.
  • by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:21PM (#16222209) Homepage
    I do not think case mods fall under this as they are looking for a more attractive version of what they have. Hopefully we get some different options from this, but speaking generally, how much can you do different? If these are going to be mass produced, they have to have utility as well. By that I mean easy access to the hardware and logical placement of said hardware.

    Apple has some good ideas on the boring concept of cases and they have been done well. I am expecting something that looks like a case, but has some extra features on the outside, both functional and visual. I hope this effort results in some serious advancement in how cases Work, Look, and Feel.

  • by celardore ( 844933 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:22PM (#16222227)
    For a while, I was into case modding. I had my stepfather do the metal cutting and so on, because I'm an accountant; I don't know how to cut metal and if I can get others to do a better job for me for free then cool. I had him cut stylistic holes in the side panels and I installed neons and light cables etc. That was a couple of years ago though.

    Now my PC is under my IKEA desk, so nobody sees the sides. I have a missing drive bay cover so you can see the coloured fans but thats it. Stylish PCs may be a big deal to some, but I lost that interest quite quickly.
    Sure, your PC looks cool, but who really cares?
    • by Feyr ( 449684 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:26PM (#16222279) Journal
      people with more space and money than brains. males under 17 years old, and tarty females of all ages
      • "people with more space and money than brains. males under 17 years old, and tarty females of all ages"

        ... and mac-heads. That's not meant to be flamebait. Apple makes a good looking computer, and that's important to their users.

    • Stylish PCs may be a big deal to some, but I lost that interest quite quickly. Sure, your PC looks cool, but who really cares?

      i think it all depends on what your concept of "stylish" is. i don't consider lucite windows, neon and leds on fans stylish myself but evidently a lot of case modders do. i like this initiative from intel. the main concern, of course, is anyone willing to pay a higher price for a nicer looking computer other than apple users? computers are a pretty significant part of whatever space

  • Even though I won't be using any of them; why spend twice as much on something that's only going to be seen when I reboot my computers or install new hardware?
  • by Kamineko ( 851857 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:32PM (#16222333)
    I think folks underestimate how striking completely transparent PC cases [] can look, or cases made from Lego bricks.

    But then again, last time [] I brought this up, I was modded 'flamebait', :(

    Y'all don't think that a rack-mount sequencer style PC (or console) case, together with rack-mount Hi-Fi (and other accessory) units would look the dog's nads?

    • by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:42PM (#16222455)
      I think folks underestimate how striking completely transparent PC cases can look ...

      The FCC called; they want their radio frequency spectrum back.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by tomz16 ( 992375 )
      Great... a display case for my dust collection!

    • We need to find a way to make completely transparent circuit boards, chips, hard drive platters, etc. Look! An invisible computer!

      Or, well, don't look. 'Cause it's invisible. Infer! The invisible computer!
    • by bunions ( 970377 )
      > I think folks underestimate how striking completely transparent PC cases can look,

      No, I don't think they do.

      I see that and think "ugh, fingerprint bonanza."

      Also, you'd never sell it due to the FCC thingie that's already been mentioned.
    • Y'all don't think that a rack-mount sequencer style PC (or console) case, together with rack-mount Hi-Fi (and other accessory) units would look the dog's nads?

      I think that's the problem...

  • Unless you're a student of design, who cares what your computer looks like? It'd be nice if it made slightly less noise, but then I'd just complain about the volume of the air conditioner.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @07:52PM (#16222541) Homepage Journal
      I would, and so would most married women.

      Someone who can design on small, quite, and as few cords as possible would be a winner.

      Mac Mini is a great design for 80% of computer users.
      The remainder will build there own anyways.

      • Mac mini looks great until you need to plug in a bunch of peripherals, then it looks like a retarded spider. But to each their own. It does the job nicely for me.
    • by Freaky Spook ( 811861 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @08:51PM (#16223099)
      You may not give a shit about what your case looks like, but in the retail market where PC's sit on shelves the shoppers do care more about how their PC looks then really what it does.

      Just recently I build a computer for a friends parents with a nice low profile Micro-ATX desktop/tower case and a 19" LCD monitor. It replaced a huge white box & 17" CRT on their desk and after some cabling cleanup it made their study look bigger and much nicer.

      They were so impressed they showed it off to their friends, and within a week I had requests for 4 more.

      People do care about the asthetics of what they buy when they want it for more then just basic functionality, the computer speed & jargon goes right over their head and they just want something that works well and looks good.
      • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
        What do you people not get? The home market is miniscule compared to the corporate market.
        • The home market may be miniscule compared to corporate, but its still a market to take. Why would intel want to surrender their Viiv platform to other competition simply because the market isn't as big?
          Its still a market, people are still prepared to pay for it, so that means there is demand.
          If there is demand for the product then its worth making it, and shipping it.

          Now more then ever we have MS/Intel/AMD/Apple starting to try to push PC's into living rooms and people want them to look good and stylish.
    • All other things being equal, I'd rather have a computer that looks nice than one that's just a plain box.

      Plus, there's the hope that a company that would take the time and effort to make their machine look really nice cared enough to make the machine's insides work and perform well also.
  • I always thought a nice high-end wood cabinet would look nice. Something you could slide a metal case into, it would protect the computer and look real classy.

    Other than that, I think the real problem isn't the case but all the fucking cords. I have dual monitors so I have 4 cables just for the monitors under my desk, one for mouse and keyboard, ethernet, 2 for printer, plus an extra one for my portable devices. I know it's been tried before to make one fat connector to the monitor (apple..) but cords suc
  • Let me get this straight, for only one million dollars Intel makes a 'contest' in which the true winners are.. Intel themselves!

    Cost of the contest aside, they get free advertising (via word of mouth from places like /.) and, in the end, possibly even free development of a nicely designed PC.

    Not that there's anything wrong with it... I guess it's just good business. Just don't ever think they're not purely doing it for their benefit.

    I have to admit though, I like the idea. Maybe people will stop thinking
    • by rts008 ( 812749 )
      Lian Li is your friend:
      ( f58ca57d979a54aca4d03dd5a07f876f)

      Functional, good airflow, stylish to garish!
  • I think the concept of offering a reward for someone who can redesign the beige box is a good one, but it seems like Intel is going after the wrong audience. It seems to me that if a company had an idea to make an amazing new design then they would already be doing it. I think a better idea would be to offer up a reward for individuals who have ideas, but not the means to actually start producing these things. Either buy the design and pay a reward, or else give the person seed money to start a business
  • The most stylish thing you can do with a computer is hide the bloody cables. Ask anyone's wife.

    My idea (and if you steal it and can manufacture it with $300K, my wife will love me for it):

    Wall-Mounted LCDs with built-in computer hardware, wireless keyboard/mouse. Hide the wires in the wall the same way you do with any wall-mounted TV. A bluetooth DVD-CD drive built into the keyboard for data transfer and installs and you're golden.
  • What, like some sort of fem-bot or Steel Angel or something?

    Or maybe with WWII-style cheesecake art painted on the side of the case?

    I realize our society has become saturated with sexuality, but come on, people -- it's a box. You can (and probably should) make it more aesthetic, you can make it visually interesting, you can make it artistic... but I've always thought the term "sexy" was overloaded.

    Just how arousing can a bunch of metal and plastic be, anyway?
  • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @08:04PM (#16222665)
    ...stupid "get a Mac if you want curves" comments, and many being modded as insightful. Granted, there have been very few Intel based PCs that have been contenders to win design awards but I've seen a few that are easily as good looking as many believe the Mac to be. Dell's M2010 [] is far better looking than then notebooks being sold by Apple. The Sony RS Series [] and LS Series [] are great looking desktops, the LS being the all-in-one like the iMac. The Sony Digital Living System [] is a great looking media center PC. It's all a matter of taste.

    One of my favorite comments was this one, "Hopefully we get some different options from this, but speaking generally, how much can you do different?" Ummm, perhaps you are a) not the target for PCs like this and b) are not creative enough to design an elegant, stylish PC case. I'm always amazed with this attitude from geeks given that they'd be extremely passionate if one we re to say something equally as inane as, "why spend billions of dollars to go to the Moon or Mars? They're just lifeless rocks with no interest to anyone."
    • You know what's funny about the Dell laptop you listed, it has a picture with big radio waves coming out of a woman's head on the screen.

      I'm not complaining about that looking kind of goofy. What I am complaining about is that it had big "1.3 Megapixels" over it, telling you the resolution of the camera built into the screen.

      It occurred to me then - I don't even know the resolution of the camera in the screen of my Macbook Pro, nor do I care. Undoubtedly you could find it in one of the many specs listed i
    • I must say, I really like that Sony Digital Living System. While the disc changers look really nifty, I think it's also unfortunate that it still relies on optical disc changers when all that data can be on a hard drive with much less physical space taken. I wish that type of system was available five years ago.
  • Steve Jobs already turned down the sexiest shaped computer possible (well, excluding naughty bits):

    Sometimes his quest for creativity had comical results, like when Steve Jobs searched for the most innovative designers of the day to create the shape and look of the new machine. He noticed a London firm that won a contest for its styling of a flashlight, and he hired the firm to build a prototype for the NeXT computer.

    When the work was completed, Steve and Bud Tribble flew to London. They sat in a con

    • Another advantage of standardizing computers to be shaped like human heads: Rich computer-phobic people can hire real humans to sit under the table and stick their head up through a hole.


  • by gsn ( 989808 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @08:34PM (#16222963)
    It is not just about getting things to look sexy - its about getting things to look different. Getting things to look different cosmetically is the first step towards actually making them different.

    I think the trend is to get rid of the PC as we know it and slowly replace it with devices that can only do specialized tasks - an Xbox for gaming, a Media Ceter PC that replaces your TV and audio system, a buisness PC for making that ugly slide show. Sell the same basic hardware, throw in a few specialized devices like that fancy new graphics accelerator and physics processor for the Xbox, a nifty tuner card and remote for that Media center thing and and make sure that printer and scanner only work with the BizPC. Make the software dumb "Click this button and everything will just work its so simple." Ofcourse you make the case and software look different so that Joe Schmoe could never even dream that his Xbox could run his little spreadsheet app no problem.

    Sell all three to Joe, charge obscene license fees for the software - maybe pull a TiVo to ensure only your own software works with your hardware. While you are at it charge an extra 500 bucks because the Xbox case was designed by Armani and looks sexy.

    This is great for buisness but it should scare most of you since /.ers do more with their computers than Joe Schmoe.

  • Sexy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 )
    That means fast, right? I thought so. Just like blue neon lights make my Honda hover and go faster. Oh... it says it's worth "big bucks". Well, that's true, I guess. You what else is worth big bucks? Sexy intelligence reports. If I want sex, I think I'll stick with people...Eeewww.
  • I suddently got a mental picture of Disney barbie case.


    A Open Source project group should get together and build a case. And the money won could be used to fund the project.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by iroll ( 717924 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @08:58PM (#16223165) Homepage
    Anybody remember the last time intel came up with a sexy new desktop design []
  • Some of us like the big beige box. My current PC was a gift, so its got a sexy case, but my old PC was in a gray box. Or, rather, it had the frame of a gray box. I like leaving my computer open. It helps with ventilation, and I like the cyberpunk look of exposed electronics.
  • Call me crazy, but I think the IBM Thinkpad [], at least some of the older models, are really pretty machines.
  • no longer beige (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harlemjoe ( 304815 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @09:47PM (#16223577)
    in my personal experience, almost all cases now come in black, grey, blue or a similar dark shade. I haven't seen a beige box in a long, long time.
  • Put the computer inside the keyboard.
    • by zoftie ( 195518 )
      laptops are way too fragile, i think with decent amount of flash ram a computer that i can bring around anywhere without worrying that i might drop it. screen and harddrive will always be the issue. Well if they can may magnetic connect display connectors like apple has for the powercord, will be feasable -> wear and tear of monitor connection. Something like some 1-2 ghz celeron-ish with passive 9600 card and 8 gigs of flashdrive ram.
  • A million is not enough to get anything into production.

    It's a cheap ad campaign.

  • bus evolution (Score:4, Informative)

    by cybpunks3 ( 612218 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:59AM (#16225459)
    I think the problem may have to do with the fundamental concept of a computer being an exposed motherboard with a series of slots that house exposed cards. This goes all the way back 30 years to the first micro bus standard (S-100) through most subsequent computers. images/chassistop.jpg [] intl103t.jpg [] es/ATX60206.jpg [] es/ATX6021_4.jpg [] jpg []

    This is indeed a practical and economical solution to the idea of putting together and updating your computer. It's really a holdover from the hobbyist days and people have gotten used to it, but it's not really consumer-friendly.

    The cartridge approach as used with videogame consoles is better.

    I think Atari had the right idea with how it implemented expansion on the 800. []

    The only exposed surfaces were the card edges and the slot. Then you just close the lid.

    You see this kind of design approach applied currently to flash memory. If you follow the evolution of the MMC card up through SD and into MINI SD and MICRO SD adapters, imagine the same approach taken with bus specifications. Older cards could be used with newer bus specifications via adapter sleeves. But you'd standardize on a singular form-factor. When you open up your PC, all of the guts would be hidden behind the casing except for the mating surfaces for the cards. All cards would be enclosed.

    I don't see this happening because computer technology is by definition transient, disposeable. So nobody wastes money on ergonomics like this. Bus standards change so frequently that you can't even keep your motherboard that long anymore let alone your cards. So you might not even swap cards that much for the lifecycle of the PC beyond the initial system setup.

    What I'd really like to see is more effort spent on coming up with a universal backplane that would be more future-proof, maybe something more passive where the glue that binds everything together was itself a module you could swap out. That way maybe the underlying frame could last much longer before becoming obsolete.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.