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In the last week, both Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo announced new PCs that featured eye-catching elements that could possibly make design fans rethink the nerdy PC image exemplified in those ubiquitous Mac commercials. What’s interesting is that both companies are using design not to emulate Apple, but to compete with it in original new ways.
HP’s new 110 netbook created in collaboration with hip Dutch designer Tord Boontje features a new manufacturing technique of layering shapes and colors underneath a device’s casing:
Boontje is known for his intricate use of cut-outs to create decorative fabrics and lighting. The $399 HP netbook features his signature design of nature-inspired silhouettes, such as animals and plants. The layers underneath the computer's case appear in subtle gradations of white. It's sleek and imaginative in a whole new, non-Apple-inspired way.
Lenovo also announced design upgrades to the interface of its ThinkPads in the last week. The new ThinkPad X200 (starts at $1,654) and the slimmer T400 (starts at $1,999) laptops have multi-touch screens, not track pads, that allow users to flick or slide fingers to manipulate images and text. Another innovation in these new ThinkPads are the icons. I saw a hands-on demonstration in New York, and the colorful, simple icons are programmed to bounce around the full screen playfully, almost as if elements in a video game.
These two new PCs might make those shopping for new laptops look twice at HP's and Lenovo's latest offerings, if truly original design of either the outer casing or the interfaces of a device are criteria to buy.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.