Hideous Laptops and Portable PCs
What makes something unsightly? Ugly may be hard to define, but most of us know it when we see it, particularly in tech gear. Examples of hideous laptop designs include fluorescent flourishes, oddball shapes and sizes, cheapo materials, and over-the-top rigs better suited for a monster-truck rally. In this slideshow, we've collected the least attractive portable computers ever built. You might disagree with our choices, of course, or have additional candidates in mind, so feel free to get ugly in the comments section. (But not too ugly, please.)
Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q706
The designers of this flaming pink-and-red oddity were no doubt aiming for an edgy, aggressive look, but the fiery flames and glowing lights were a venomous assault on good taste.
Introduced in 2009, the Qosmio X305--go ahead, call it "Quasimodo"--was a 12.4-pound multimedia monstrosity built to appeal to the Alienware crowd. Someone should have dematerialized this hideous rig.
In the early days of personal computing, looks didn't matter much. The Osborne 1 portable, the grandpappy of the modern laptop, was a bulky beast that debuted in 1981.
A triumph of function over form, this 24-pound, suitcase-size luggable had all the cutting-edge tech you'd want from a road-worthy machine of its era, including dual floppy drives and a 5-inch monochrome display. It's hard to believe that the MacBook Air is even a remote descendant of this brute.
After Steve Jobs regained control of Apple in the late 1990s, he launched of a series of transparent, brightly colored Macs that stood out among the boring beige PCs of the day--but not always in a good way.
The iBook, which debuted in 1999, had all the charm of a plasticky Hasbro toy. Sporting a translucent, rubber-coated case and a pullout handle, the garish iBook originally came in your choice of two colors: blueberry or tangerine. And before you flame, Mac fans, consider this: Would today's Apple ever unveil such a cheesy design?
One Laptop Per Child XO
One Laptop Per Child's XO is a colorful, no-frills laptop for children in developing nations, and it's a worthwhile invention. It's a durable beast built to withstand the rigors of rough treatment, as well as high heat and humidity. It's bright and garish like most kids' toys.
According to the site for the nonprofit OLPC, the XO "could not be big, heavy, fragile, ugly, dangerous, or dull." Well, it's certainly not dull. Style verdict: Noble cause, ugly design.
Ego for Bentley
"Ego" is the perfect name for this wildly overpriced line of luxury laptops from Bentley Motors. Debuting in 2008 for a cool $19,800, the gaudy Ego lineup features a rich array of conspicuous-consumption flourishes, including Bentley leather trim and diamonds set with "surgical precision" in platinum and white gold. All that's missing is a hidden compartment for a bichon frise. Despite its high-end accoutrements, however, the Ego is more tacky than tasteful.
HP Pavilion dv6 'Artist Edition'
Some of you may actually like this design. Others, of course, will loathe it. Old fuddy-duddy Hewlett-Packard got a little crazy back in 2009 when it unveiled the Pavilion dv6 Artist Edition, a clamshell creation featuring an eye-grabbing design from the winner of the “Engine Room” Notebook Design Contest sponsored by HP, MTV, and AMD. The colorful swirls, reportedly inspired by the "sea and sky in Okinawa, Japan," may be suitable for framing--but on a laptop lid, they may induce seasickness. This one is open for debate: Love it or hate it?
A laptop with two heads will never claim any design awards, and these two freak-show follies show why. The discontinued Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds (top left) resembled a buttoned-down business laptop--oh, except for the second, mutant noggin sprouting from its side.
And the current gScreen SpaceBook, which starts at a luxurious $1900, is an inelegant oddball with two 17-inch displays. With its massive wings, the SpaceBook looks ready for takeoff. First stop, Uglytown!
When you're stranded in the Sahara, a ruggedized laptop with a magnesium-alloy case, sealed I/O caps, a glare-resistant display, and a backlit rubber keyboard is good to have. How else could you play Angry Birds while braving a sandstorm? But despite--or perhaps because of-- its Hummer-like attributes, the Getac V100 is as handsome as a howitzer. This beast belongs on a battlefield, not at the local latte lounge.
Apple eMate 300
Running Apple's late and unlamented Newton OS, the eMate had a stylus for pen input and a child-size keyboard. Its curvy, clamshell design and translucent case may have seemed innovative at the time--but like the iBook, the eMate and its charms haven't aged well. Apple scuttled the eMate in 1998. Good call.
Sony VAIO EA Caribbean Green
Sony style? More like fashion faux pas. Whoever signed off on the blindingly bright eyesore known as the VAIO EA Caribbean Green must have been lacking in design sense.
This island-inspired, neon-green atrocity has decent specs, including a 14-inch LCD, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and a Blu-ray player, but it's a shark attack on the eyes. Sony should ship a bottle of Visine with each unit.
Electronic Keyboards 'Executive' PPC
Here's a laptop concept that never took off. Electronic Keyboards' Executive PPC features an ergonomic keyboard that, when split in two, reveals a digitizer that doubles as a second display.
There's something about a keyboard torn asunder that offends the gods of good taste. You have to admit, though: The Executive PPC is clever in a what-were-they-thinking sort of way.
NEC LaVie G Hello Kitty
This darling design features a Hello Kitty motif set with Swarovski crystals. If you're traveling to Japan, the LaVie G can be yours for a mere 210,000 yen (US $2761). Pricey, yes, but you'll be the envy of preadolescent females everywhere. In addition to its purrific styling, the Hello Kitty laptop has a 15.4-inch widescreen display, a 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 processor, and 2GB of RAM. The bargain alternative? Plaster your $500 Dell with dozens of Hello Kitty stickers.
Bonus Pick: NHP 200NC
Okay, this isn't a true laptop, but more of a "lightweight caseless PC." Then again, NeuHausPlatz Computer Systems' NHP 200NC (the "NC" stands for "no case" or "network computer") includes a laptop-like handle for semiportability, and there's no denying its ugliness.
Actually, it's a don't-try-it-at-home experiment dating back to 2002. A mad scientist at NeuHausPlatz sprayed three cans of polyurethane foam on a hand-built desktop rig. The result: A semihard shell that resembles a bubbling, radioactive gingerbread house (or perhaps an albino Blob).