Remember these? In the year 2000, life was full of colorful promise. I headed off to my college dormitory with the transparent blue iMac that I had coveted ever since I saw the ad campaigns that allowed me to choose amongst a pinwheel of colored computers.
For a while, Apple continued to produce computer in a variety of colors. The design and marketing decision may have been, in part, what piqued my interest in a career in tech journalism. "Hey, this is fun," I thought, "I wonder what design choices my technology products will afford me in ten years?"
But fast-forward to 2013, and it turns out that tech selection hasn’t exploded into a cornucopia of colors and designs as hoped. Long tail be damned, it isn’t usually cost-effective for retailers to stock fifteen shades, materials, and patterns of every product.
Yes, Apple still pays token tribute to its colorful heyday with a smattering of juicy-fruit iPods, but c’mon—iPods? They’re not exactly Apple’s most lusted-after SKU these days. I’m always on the lookout for tech manufacturers that manage to present devices with innovative designs, and offer choices to consumers.
Splashing on a painted piece of plastic—like laptop-makers were doing for a while with pink and green lids adorning otherwise bulky, ugly designs—does not count (and it isn’t a successful business model either: very few laptop makers offer lid-color choices anymore).
Here are five products available in a range of interesting colors—some bright, some subtle—that allow for a modicum of self-expression among gadget lovers.
1. Pentax Q10 Mirrorless Camera: This $600, 12 megapixel interchangeable lens camera is a rare example of nearly limitless color customization: more than 100 different combos for the camera’s grip and body are possible via the company’s studio site: gold, turquoise, teal, tangerine, brown...it doesn’t get better than this.
2. Canon Powershot Elph 110 HS: If you want color choice but can’t afford a $600 mini-DSLR, consider a point-and-shoot like Canon’s 100 HS—only $135 from many retailers. For this camera, Canon offers six colors: far more than the industry average. Its more than a step above your smartphone’s camera, too, with 16.1 megapixels, 5x optical zoom, and image stabilization.
3. Edifier Aurora 2.1 Speaker System: This tube-line 15 watt speaker with two satellite balls comes in 10 colors and can be found for under $90. If you’ve got a home office or desk outfitted in a variety of shades of red, blue, and yellow, these might be the only PC speakers that keep your theme alive.
4. Nocs NS2 Air Monitors: These fancy wireless speakers make use of Apple’s AirPlay media streaming capability, which works with pretty much any iPhone or iPad running iOS 4.3.3 or later, or any Mac or PC running iTunes 10.2.2 or later. They’re for music lovers who can’t bear the thought of a dock combining their stereo sounds. Theoretically, you could set up several sets of these around the house and manage them all via iTunes. Grey for the office, red for the kitchen, etc.
5. Urbanears Plattan: The Urbanears brand has quickly made a name for itself in color. It presents new headphone colors as limited editions—they come in and out of stock, and new colors are launched frequently. At any given moment you might see colors like tomato, coral, rust, pumpkin and petrol on offer. Because color variety is so important to this company, it shares with customers the CMYK mix for each hue, as well as the closest Pantone match. It also takes suggestions for new colors.
(Images: Apple; as linked above)