January 30, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Yearning for color on laptops

Fans of the University of Texas football team, recently crowned national champions of college football, are known for their boisterous support for their home team and state.

That's why Nick Bhavsar, chief executive officer of LaptopLids and a Texas graduate student, knew he was onto something with his burnt-orange laptop cover bearing the iconic image of a longhorn.

The former Intel engineer's fledgling Web company began selling vinyl laptop covers with the Texas Longhorns logo as well as the Texas state flag in September 2005. After Texas won the national championship game at the Rose Bowl in early January and orders skyrocketed, Bhavsar realized he'd tapped into the growing demand for personalized laptop designs that are quickly vaulting the notebook PC out of its Model T era.

According to legend, Ford founder Henry Ford described his design philosophy for the Model T as, "You can paint it any color, so long as it's black." For many years a similar philosophy has held sway among laptop designers at the three largest PC companies in the world: Dell, Hewlett-Packard and the former IBM PC business now owned by Lenovo. Apple Computer, Sony, Acer, Alienware, Voodoo PC and others have introduced more stylish designs, but the standard products available from the largest Windows PC vendors tend to come in either black or gray.

That philosophy is starting to change. A few computer companies and several accessory makers and custom specialists have figured out that, like '70s-era custom vans and dot-com-era BMWs, custom-look laptops can be seen as potent style statements.

Dell's new XPS PC, introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show this month, features a flashy case design. Like LaptopLids, Dell has begun selling notebook covers along with its consumer laptops that add color or collegiate logos to its products. HP's Livestrong notebook features Lance Armstrong's signature yellow band in one of the company's few nods to personalization. And last fall, chipmaker Intel showed off a line of concept laptops that featured Ultrasuede fabric on their casing.

But custom designs are still relatively new to the mainstream PC industry. As a result, tech-savvy individuals looking for something different tend to produce their own creations, a practice known as "case-modding."

Most case mods have involved desktop PCs, but now that laptop shipments are set to overtake desktops in coming years, consumers are looking for ways to make their mobile PCs stand out from the rest of the black-and-gray crowd, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. For the most part, they are finding what they need outside of the traditional technology vendors, he said.

Modded notebooks

Take Skyn, which makes colorful laptop covers that can be reused on multiple laptops. Skyn's co-founder, Letitia Lucero, was looking for a colorful laptop a few years ago, but couldn't find anything she liked. After experimenting with materials in partnership with her husband, Miguel, they discovered a type of plastic that stood up to the wear and tear on a notebook, and applied an adhesive to the back that allows the cover to be removed and used on other laptops, a Skyn spokeswoman said.

Last year, Inclosia Solutions and Tulip Distribution International Holding teamed up to release a series of leather-covered laptops that are also available with fabrics such as denim.

CONTINUED: How about a paint job?…
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13 comments

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Laser etching...
You can have your Powerbook laser etched. Very cool looking...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.etchamac.com/powerbook.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.etchamac.com/powerbook.php</a>
Posted by egarc--2008 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wow. hideous.
nuff said
Posted by H A R L O (9 comments )
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Remember "Screenies"?
Remember screenies, those frames that used velcro to attach to your monitor? They had all sorts of designs.

You don't remember them? huh.
Posted by cagerattler (72 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Color on Laptops
I think this is great.
Posted by laney22 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Finally lap top with personality.
Now my laptop has personality like me, finally its not going to look so getto with all the stickers.
Posted by 209654225939673666349103569994 (1 comment )
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Laptopmods is a site dedicated to laptop modding
Just wanted to point out that laptopmods.com is a great site with a gallery of peoples attempted and completed mods of thier laptops. also some good articles on the site, and some good tutorials in the forums. Some of the paintings in the gallery are amazing, as good as some of falcon northwests custom artworks
Posted by SSilver2k2 (1 comment )
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News worthy?
Running out of real news to publish? Fill your quota of MS bashing today?

Really what percentage of laptops will get custom paint jobs? Less than 1%?

Most people see a laptop at a tool to get something done. Or as an appliance. My toaster is a boring steel color.....maybe I should paint it blaze orange. How about my Sony DVD player under neath my TV....is a ugly silver.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
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Loss Prevention (Re: News Worthy)
Since I use my laptop in public, I do lock it, but feel that anything I can do to personalize it, be it decals, stickers, logos, etc, will make it less attractive to a thief, since I would be able to more easily ID it walking away.
Posted by jmyluck (1 comment )
Link Flag
Re:News worthy?
Yes, most laptops are used as tool for business, but not all. Laptops are also used by college students and others that don't have space for a desktop. Or they want portability over flexibility. My point is that you shouldn't necessarily give up customization. Hey if you want to paint your toaster blaze orange, that's up to you. I've seen worse.
Posted by chrismdonahue (3 comments )
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customization is a future theme
To declare my interest, I have a company that provides custom laptop skins to order (aspoke.com).

Anyway, my point is that although the quality and the price of goods these days are good, everything looks pretty much the same, because of mass-production and consolidation. It makes sense that people want to have something that looks different. We've seen it particularly with mobile phones in Europe - a lot of the phones are quite similar, but users make an effort to customize them with covers and ringtones. Customizing the laptop is a natural extension of this. (Plus, it's a useful way of identifying yourself if you're speaking at a conference.

And on a final note - if you do want to paint your toaster blaze orange, be sure to use a heatproof material

Best,

Antoin.
Posted by antoinolachtnain (1 comment )
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Custom Laptop Covers
Custom Laptop covers in Las Vegas is doing the same thing. Check them out at customlaptopcovershq.com, the site is up but still under construction.
Posted by tceleset (1 comment )
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Amen
Finally a little color in our lives. I bought a silver car before silver was popular and now it's just a bland, boring color. I'm sick of silver everything. My new cell phone is a black Razr. I'd rather it be Blue.

My recent Dell Inspiron 9300 purchase came with a quick snap personalization shield that is black leather. It looks really good although I would have preferred the copper or burnt orange color that Toshiba laptops offer. I would have bought that for the color alone if the screen had been better.

NEED MORE COLOR IN LIFE. Not everything is an appliance to everyone.
Posted by thedaddy54 (2 comments )
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Custom Color and logos
GEN-X-PC.com has custom colors available and custom logos all very inexpensive and they will have proofs back to you in less than 1 day in most cases. Here is a link to examples of the colors and several examples of great logos:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.gen-x-pc.com/note_color_chart.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.gen-x-pc.com/note_color_chart.htm</a>

They say they use automotive paint available in metallic and pearl finish. High gloss, semi gloss and flat clear coat options. Color shifting paints and even Ultraviolet paint.
Posted by cgp99 (2 comments )
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