LGR – Strangest Computer Designs of the 2000s

LGR – Strangest Computer Designs of the 2000s


The first decade of the new millennium was known for the rise of cheap, boring PCs from the likes of Dell and eMachines. But it also saw its fair share of outlandish computer designs, with manufacturers on a mad dash to find the next big thing. So, let’s take a look at a bunch of computers that stand out for their weirdness in regards to overall look, usability and specifications alike. Starting with: Originally developed as a concept for Intel, the Ottoman PC by Sozo Design featured a Pentium 3, 16-inch LCD display, an optical drive and a removable wireless mouse and keyboard. The idea was to build a PC that would blend in with existing living room furniture, but would convert into a powerful desktop PC once opened up. Unfortunately, once you did that, it resembled an open toilet seat, rather than a stylish ottoman, which brought about more jokes than interest and sales. The: Designed in 2006, Maingear’s Prysma is built in the shape of a pyramid, strictly because they could. The Prysma was a unique take on Intel’s Viiv media center standard, which meant that its primary function was to be hooked up to your HDTV and playback TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, not only was it expensive at $3500 for the base unit alone, but the design made it inconvenient, both in terms of cable management and not fitting within most home theater setups. The: And people thought Apple’s G4 Cube was an unusual design. Inspired by the look and and shape of a sunflower, the 2002 iMac G4 was a bizarre follow-up to the 1998 G3. The core components were packed into its bulbous base, whereas the LCD protruded from the top and swung around on a metal arm like a desk lamp. While it was lauded for its elegant display, it was criticised for its relatively low power and high cost, and discontinued less than two years later. The: After a short public testing period in 2006, the Chumby was released as a portable computer designed to be thoroughly customised by its owner. It featured a 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen, a 350Mhz ARM chipset, came wrapped in padded leather, and ran a version of Linux that was customisable by installing software widgets. You could turn it into a dedicated newsreader, dedicated music player, whatever. Although this was spun off into the non-portable Sony Dash in 2010, Chumby devices ceased production two years later, with the servers shutting down in 2013. The: Although originally announced in 1998, it was in the early 2000s that IBM’s Young Explorer computer systems started showing up everywhere kids happen to be. Schools, daycares, airports, restaurants, dentists offices, you name it. The hardware inside was a standard IBM ThinkCenter PC, but it was housed in a child-friendly plastic desk manufactured by Rubbermaid and sold under their Little Tikes brand. It was quite a success, even though they sold for upwards of $2500. The: This was a time when the ultra-mobile personal computer, or UMPC, was poised to take the world by storm in 2006 and OQO’s Model O2 was a much-lauded example. Starting at $1500, this particular UMPC was introduced by none other than Bill Gates in 2007 and featured a fully-functional Windows Vista computer system small enough to fit in your pocket. However the battery life was pretty abysmal, and the Blackberry-like keyboard was lacking, besides that, netbook computers were just about to take off. By 2010, the company had gone bankrupt. 3Com’s Audrey Internet appliances were all the rage around the turn of the century and 3Com’s Ergo Audrey from 2000 was one of the more high-profile ones. Named after actress Audrey Hepburn for some reason, its sole purpose was to connect to the internet and perform basic computing tasks, using its QNX-based operating system. Despite notable first-year sales, it died a swift death during the dot com crash of 2001, and due to an influx of cheap, liquidated units it became rather popular among hardware hacking enthusiasts in the following years. What’s better than a computer with a built-in display? A computer with two built in displays, or so went Lenovo’s thinking in 2008, with their dual-monitor ThinkPad W700ds laptop. The idea behind it was that workstation users on the go could always use another screen. So a smaller LCD panel slid out of the side, like some kind of cancerous growth. Other than looking bizarre, the big problem was that it weighed a hefty 11lbs, was over 2 inches thick, and the battery maybe lasted 2 hours on a good day. The: Never missing a chance to slap mouse ears on something, the Walt Disney Company released the Dream Desk computer in 2004 Manufactured by electronics giant Medion, it featured a Mickey Mouse head display with built-in speakers, a keyboard with a built-in drawing tablet pen and a case with a door that slides over the cables in the back to keep kids away from the important stuff. Oddly enough, the silly design was the main issue that prevented it from selling very well, along with the fact that for $900 you could get something far more powerful elsewhere. The: Yet another company taking a shot at making media center PCs interesting, Moneual’s idea was to go cylindrical, with the “I-Magine”, “Imagine”, “I-star-magine”, stupid name! Some thought the case design was elegant and even beautiful, others found it looked more like a bomb. Whatever your stance, it was priced between $2,000 and $3,000, boasting a built-in touchscreen, speakers and hard drive. The idea was that you could use it as a portable media player in addition to a Windows Vista Media Center PC and your TV, but with no batteries and that lofty price tag, its appeal was understandably limited. And that’s all for this particular video, and if you enjoyed this, why not check out some of my others? I’ve a got a video on some bizarre computers of the 90’s, as well as plenty of other things on LGR of similar topics, and let me know in the comments if you had any of these, remember seeing them, or there’s some that I maybe missed and you’d like to see in a future episode, or something. Whatever, man! I enjoy the communion! There’s also Twitter and Facebook if you want to do all that, and as always, thank you very much for watching LGR!