By Bennett Ring
August 14, 2004
Today’s PC is not only smarter and faster, it’s a very different looking beast. One that isn’t so, well, ugly. Thanks to both the MP3 and DVD, not to mention the increasingly earth-shaking nature of PC speakers, this once-boring beige box has been transformed from a tedious number cruncher into an entertainment powerhouse.
This move from the study to the lounge room has meant that the frumpy PC had to be prettied up if it was to take centre stage.
Case makers were slow to catch on, but that didn’t stop people experimenting. It all began with a nice shiny paint job – usually black or silver, to help the PC feel comfortable among the other designer appliances. Then came Perspex windows, neon lights and soon people were even lighting up their PC’s ventilation fans.
Manufacturers noticed what customers were doing to their cases and began making their own versions, with exotic materials and windows becoming standard features.
As the PC has become the focus of our entertainment universe, so it has turned into a gadget magnet. If it’s powered by electricity, chances are you can buy a gadget that plugs into one of the many USB ports that now line the PC’s front and rear. USB disks, USB lights, USB mouse pads (complete with glowing lights), USB microphones, USB coffee warmers: you name it, somebody has created a USB version of it.
The internet has also revolutionised the way we use our PCs. Being able to share files with friends and family thousands of kilometres away means we now need to get our files into the computer as quickly as possible. FireWire hubs and external card readers have become popular with snap-happy digital camera users, while webcams mean we can chat face to face with relatives overseas.