Seneca Data Adds Customizable Notebook Faceplates

The whitebook model is part of an Intel program designed to increase channel sales of custom notebooks. The program, rolled out in March, promises interchangeable parts, such as optical drives and power supplies, along with at least one model that would accept the customized faceplates.

Matt Hutton, Seneca Data's mobile business development manager, said the new chassis was specifically designed to hold the faceplate.

Seneca Data is working with a local provider in the area to print out the skins, which he described as being similar to a sticker but more substantial.

Seneca Data has already started offering the skins for one local college. For resellers, Hutton said Seneca Data will keep the skins in stock and then assemble them as orders are placed.

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He said the skins are a great way for corporate customers to market themselves.

"What we are seeing is more customers that want some sort of identifying, marketing space," he said.

Steven Nichols, CFO of Xtreme Notebooks, Carson City, Nev., said the online reseller of high-end notebooks has already started offering a similar feature: custom-painted notebooks. Though more expensive—prices range from $199 to $249—customers can get a durable surface created with the same kind of paint used by auto manufacturers, he said.

Nichols is enthusiastic about Seneca Data's faceplate option because it drops the price down to what he believes will be a $15 to $20 cost per notebook. By whatever method, customizing notebooks "is huge," he said. It gives resellers more personalized options to offer customers and is something high- volume OEMs probably won't be able to duplicate, he said. And it appeals to consumer and business customers alike.

"Say a company like State Farm [Insurance] put its logo on the back of the displays," he said. "Every time one of its guys uses his laptop, everyone will know where he works."