Walk into any Best Buy and you're hit with an ugly truth: PCs aren't pretty.
A 15-inch HP Windows 8 laptop that sells for $270 (Best Buy's "Deal of the Day" on Saturday) isn't meant to be pretty. It's meant to be practical.
But a $330 iPad Mini is also very practical for a lot of people. And pretty too (consumers and reviewers seem to think so). Pretty and practical are two reasons Apple can sell tens of millions of Minis.
Why bring this up? I was struck by a statement from an Intel executive at the chipmaker's London Analyst Summit this week. He was speaking about why consumers aren't upgrading their PCs at the rate they did before and, instead, opting to purchase tablets.
"We haven't had products in the marketplace that were compelling in any way...from a form factor point of view," he said.
That's brutal honesty coming from the general manager of Intel's Mobile Client Platform division.
The PC world isn't very good at giving you both price and pulchritude.
HP is getting close, with the $400 Iconia W510 tablet is cheap, it's hardly an iPad Mini.tablet-laptop hybrid. But not close enough on price. And while Acer's
Even at higher prices, Apple design is hard to beat. The MacBook Air, when it debuted in 2008, changed laptop design almost singlehandedly. And it's still very popular, starting at $1,000.
There are PCs that can compete with the Air, of course. The XPS 13.touch-screen ultrabook is attractive and has been well received. And ditto for Dell's
But so far there's been no "form factor," as the Intel executive put it, that can compete with the iPad.
Here's a suggestion: A $400 Surface packing Intel's upcoming quad-core Bay Trail system-on-a-chip. Or even better, $300. That would shake things up. I'm sure readers can think of a lot more ideas.