Laptops: Fashion accessories or productivity tools?

Summary:I was blindsided this week with the realization that the appearance of laptops, more importantly how 'good' they look, is one of the top criteria that many folks use in the purchase decision.

Fugly

Fugly

I was blindsided this week with the realization that the appearance of laptops, more importantly how 'good' they look, is one of the top criteria that many folks use in the purchase decision. I like attractive gadgets as much as anyone, but I have never used that as a major factor for buying one laptop over another. That's not true for a lot of people according to reactions to 'ugly' laptops.

This all got started when I published the review of the ThinkPad X1 laptop. It is a ThinkPad with a black boxy design typical for the line, obviously to appeal to the corporate world at which these laptops are aimed. When this review went live, the reaction to the laptop was what I see for all ThinkPad reviews: this thing is 'fugly'. Not just unattractive, but so much so that the common reaction was "I would never buy one of these."

This online reaction had me turn to Twitter where I posed the question of how important the attractiveness of a laptop is in the purchase decision. The answers I got were overwhelmingly that ugly laptops would not even be considered for purchase. Several respondents on Twitter admitted that laptops are "fashion accessories" like clothes and phones, and must be attractively designed to be considered for purchase.

Pretty

Pretty

Fashion accessory? That's not the first thing that comes to my mind when looking at a laptop, but I can see how some folks might think so. They are seen in the coffeeshop tweeting on the laptop, so I suppose it makes a statement about who they are. It certainly explains why Apple's laptops are so popular, they set the bar for attractive design.

Laptops for me are still productivity tools, I appreciate nicely designed models but it's not way up on the list of important factors for consideration. I am more interested in how portable and powerful it is to help me get my work done in a mobile setting. As a writer the keyboard on a laptop is far more important than how good it looks, but that's just me. Attractive design is a benefit, but not a requirement. How about you? Let us know in the poll how important laptop design is in your purchase decision. [poll id="6"]

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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