Gorgeous Gadgets: 10 Best-Looking Nonmobile Products Of The Past 10 Years12:00 PM EST Wed. Sep. 12, 2012
Last month CRN gathered 10 of the best-looking mobile gadgets from the past 10 years . Now we turn our collective attention to nonmobile tech products, from desktops and displays to routers and peripherals. These products may be stationary, so to speak, but they're spectacular nonetheless. Here are 10 gorgeous nonmobile gadgets from the past 10 years.
Apple started major tech trends with the iPad and iPhone, but let's not forget the trend-setting iMac G5, which sparked the all-in-one (AIO) desktop revolution. While Apple's iMac G4, also known as the desk lamp Mac, received a lot of attention and magazine covers, the G5's simple and sleek AIO design had a greater impact and longer-lasting effect on Apple's desktop business. First introduced in 2004, the G5's look quickly became the norm for the iMac line, and the AIO design was emulated by a number of PC makers.
Yes, it looks more like a phaser from Star Trek than a computer mouse. But Microsoft's Arc Touch is just about the best-looking mouse around. Released last year, the Arc Touch mouse lives up to its name with its dramatically novel design; in fact, the mouse starts out in a flat position, making is easy for storage, and users can then bend it to their liking. So instead of a flat surface in the middle, there's just empty space with an arched grip. The Arc Touch mouse is less than 15mm thick at its widest point, making it both extremely attractive and portable.
Gateway was never known as a design leader in the PC space. But the computer maker embraced the all-in-one desktop movement several years ago, and it's produced some of the best-looking PCs. Case in point: the Gateway One AIO, first released in 2007, and featuring a smooth, jet-black finish and a 19-inch display. And unlike other AIO desktops, which typically use a stand or pedestal for support, the Gateway One's case is solid from top to bottom. While the Gateway One series is still around today, the first edition of this brand was the best.
Who says Wi-Fi routers have to be so ugly? Belkin revamped its line of routers this year and gave them a futuristic design that will help the networking device blend in with other attractive, modern-looking gadgets instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. The Belkin AC 1000 DB Wi-Fi Dual-Band AC+ Gigabit Router leaves behind the ugly box of older router models and sports a smooth case with rounded edges and low profile. Oh, and the router offers some pretty high speeds, too.
It looks more like a blank display screen than a wireless storage device, but NetGear's forthcoming Media Storage Router WNDR4700 is a stunner that can sit on your desk without looking like bulky clutter. Netgear's new product, first introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, earned a CES 2012 Innovations Design and Engineering Award thanks to a glossy black exterior that resembles polished glass and a thin profile that hides the all the cable ports. The only thing you'll have to worry about with this device is getting too many fingerprints on it.
After HP acquired boutique computer maker VoodooPC in 2006, the IT giant used its new acquisition to craft a high-powered luxury gaming PC. As a result, HP introduced the following year the Blackbird 002, complete with a "VoodooDNA" label on the case. An all-aluminum chassis and a cast-aluminum foot highlight the exterior design, which also hides its disc drives in between the case's ridges and a row of ports and media card readers under a pop-up panel. The inside of the expensive desktop was almost as gorgeous, thanks to VoodooPC's liquid cooling scheme and expertly organized cables and components.
It takes some skill to make a digital version of a drafting board look beautiful, but that's what Wacom has done with its Cintiq 24HD. The tablet, designed for graphics professionals, comes with a 24-inch HD display and slick control panels on both sides, resembling a futuristic console one might see in a science fiction movie. The display is attached to an adjustable, ergonomic base for customizable viewing angles and comes with a digital pen and/or airbrush. For a digital drafting board, it doesn't get more elegant than this.
Once billed as the world's thinnest OLED flat panel display (it may still be depending on whom you ask), LG showed off this beauty at CES 2011. The 31-inch OLED display is just 2.9mm thick, meaning if conference goers weren't careful, they could miss the luxurious flat panel (for a look at LG's OLED from the side, check out this picture from CES 2011). Not only is the display thin, but LG's 31-inch OLED boasts a barely noticeable bezel, making the display virtually all picture and no distraction. While LG introduced larger OLEDs this year, the 31-inch display still takes the cake.
Printers are arguably the ugliest pieces of tech you'll find in your office, but in 2007 Samsung changed the look and feel of the peripheral with its Monochrome Laser Printer ML-1630, which could pass for the monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey." Samsung's printer is slimmer than most other bulky printers at just 12.15cm high. The case boasts a high-gloss finish with embedded LED controls instead of cluttered buttons and switches. Sadly, Samsung discontinued this model, but the ML-1630 nevertheless set the bar pretty high for printer aesthetics.
Talk about the gold standard -- VoodooPC (of the aforementioned HP Blackbird 002) took its highly popular Omen desktop model and decked the case out in gold. Introduced in 2005, the Omen 24K took the familiar VoodooPC case design -- the snazzy logo etched into the metal chassis, the glass panel giving users a view into the liquid-cooling system -- and added 24 karats of gold plating. Yes, that's real gold on the case. Sure, the Omen 24K was expensive, with a reported price tag of $22,000. But who ever said looking good comes cheap?