Intel has opened a competition to encourage designers to produce a 'sexy' PC, with $1m on the table for the winning product. Is it just me, or do 'sex' and 'PC design' struggle to occupy the same sentence?
Creating a system that won't look out of place in the living room is central to Intel's vision of the Viiv ecosystem, where the PC controls and delivers films and music to couch potatoes. But the company is having trouble convincing people that they really want a computer to dominate their living area, hence its desire for an alluring design.
Even for the technophiles among us, there's surely some relief at the end of the day when we shut down our system and revert to the predictable and reliable on/off facilities of the TV, DVD player and remote control. Given the quirky history of PC reliability, putting one at the centre of our entertainment could add a few complications to the process of rest and relaxation.
And even if Intel's Viiv PCs do turn out to be as simple to use as traditional entertainment devices, it will take time before the public is convinced.
That's not to say I think PCs won't have an impact on our media habits – they already are, with services such as iTunes and YouTube. But I'm starting to lean towards Intel competitor AMD's thinking on how this will work in future. AMD doesn't believe we're ready for the PC-based living room either. The AMD Live platform is based around the idea of having the media-serving PC located somewhere else in the house, working in tandem with a set-top-box – a much more recognisable and reliable device – in the living room.
Sleek, small PCs that buck the beige-box trend should be encouraged. But placing them next to the TV is a non-starter.
More details of the competition can be found here.