I’m not finished with it yet, but I can already recommend The Race For Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer by Steve Hamm.
Here are two very interesting yet contrasting viewpoints on design:
To make matters even more complicated, product developers now have to deal with an additional element: fashion. “When you make things smaller, you make them more personal. And when you make things more personal, you make them more emotional,” says Ted Clark, general manager of the notebook computing business at Hewlett-Packard. “Notebook computers are an extension of your personality, almost like jewelry.” When you add fashion to the portable formula, you start to understand why many pioneering mobile computers have been flops, a few have been nearly perfect, and most have been essentially knock-offs of devices that preceded them.
Lenovo’s chief designer, David Hill, dismissed Dell’s efforts at distinguishing itself through design. “I think the idea of offering color options is a bit weak in a world where people are looking for design that provides them with true advantages,” he said. “Color is an emotional statement, but little else. We strive to create innovation that is more meaningful. Great design combines style with substance.” Still, Dell’s design moves would pose additional challenges to Lenovo at a time when it was trying to build a global brand on a reputation for strong engineering and design.
I’d say that David Hill has some rethinking to do.
And then there’s this:
What did [David] Hill think of [the Macbook] Air? “I’m a bit tired of looking at silver computers. They seem so flashy,” he said a few days later. “I’d never wear a silver business suit.”
David Hill has a blog and he’s posted about this book too. Good for him, allowing some of those very critical comments through. He seems oddly silent on the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t; there are no blog posts I could find. (Be also warned that images fed in via Flickr weren’t working when I looked today.)
Steve Hamm, who wrote the book, has a site here. It offers two sample chapters (I’m not up to chapter 10 yet!).
Lacking an iPad, I can’t say if this is available in the iBookstore. But for those who have the requisite DRM skills, it can be bought at the Sony Reader Store or, without any discount, at eBooks.com. [Full disclosure: neither of these are affiliate links and I get no payola whatsoever from them.]
Anyone remember the Macintosh Portable? It’s in this book too! Aside from a “biography” of the ThinkPad X300, it provides a brief history of portable computing and provides a context for Lenovo’s efforts.
I still have more chapters to go, but I recommend this!