If you've spent any time reading tech news sites, you've no doubt seen galleries of weird and wild PC modifications—usually called "case mods"—done by individuals on a one-time basis.
Those are fun, sure, but what's more amazing to me is that giant corporations have created their very own "case mods" on a mass-produced or commercial scale. They involve strange and unusual designs that might have very well been mistaken as the creations of a clever computer fanatic.
Bravely, those firms were willing to take a chance on a crazy design idea. Sometimes those risks worked out for the best, and some times they failed miserably. In the gallery below, you'll see 10 bizarre PC designs of late (the past 17 years, as it happens). Most of them failed, but we can't help but admire the companies for trying.
(This story was originally published on Jan. 27, 2012.)
Barbie PC (2000)
Unsatisfied with Barbie beds, shoes, lunchboxes, tents, chopsticks, corkscrews, and chainsaws, Mattel sought a new device to brand with the famous doll's image. In 2000, it settled on a PC, seen here, which ran Windows 98. Patriot, the company responsible for the Barbie PC, simultaneously released a Hot Wheels computer for boys. Like the toy, it was prone to frequent crashes.
Samsung SPH-9000 (2006)
In 2006, Samsung announced this tiny Windows XP device, which sported a 1GHz Transmeta CPU, a 5-inch LCD screen, a built-in camera, and Wi-Max support. It could fold in ways that would make a circus contortionist jealous. Accordingly, during its debut demonstration, Samsung representatives accidentally folded the SPH-9000 so many times that it disappeared in a reality-bending blink, stunning everyone in attendance.
Jack PC (2010)
I know what you're thinking: "I've always wanted a PC that fits in a tiny outlet box." (I also know what you're eating, but I won't mention it so I don't embarrass you.) Believe it or not, your wish was granted in the form of the Jack PC, a tiny thin-client computer unveiled in 2010 that did indeed fit in an outlet box. You stuck it in your wall and forgot about it—that is, until you tripped over the cords on your way back to the fridge.
(Photo: Chip PC)
Maxdata Belinea s.book 1 Mini-Note (2008)
At some point in the history of man (2008), someone had the idea to combine a netbook with a detachable Skype handset. The result was the "Maxdata Belinea s.book 1 Mini-Note," which sports a name that is at least twice as large as the computer itself. Precisely because of its strange features, people did not like the Maxdata Belinea s.book 1 Mini-Note, and it soon disappeared into the naked wilderness, never to be seen again.
Sony VAIO VGX-TP25E (2008)
In recent times, computers have shifted to the center of the modern media experience. That's a salesman's way of saying that you should buy a new home theater PC for $3,000—which is exactly what Sony hoped you'd do in 2008 when it released this giant hockey puck PC that could function as a DVR. Sony's HTPC also distinguished itself as the only PC that could easily roll down a hill. Critics weren't impressed, but the Association of Professional Computer Bowlers immediately fell in love.
DreamCom Series 10 (2008)
I know what you're thinking: "Didn't you already know what I was thinking earlier in this slideshow?" Yes, but you are also thinking that you'd love to have a laptop that could do whatever is happening in the photo above, albeit for under $2,000. Too bad! I have no evidence that the DreamCom 10 made it into production, but if it did, I'm sure it would have been $5,000 just to spite you.
Space Cube (2006)
Shimafuji Corporation developed the diminutive Space Cube PC for one purpose: space travel. Low-earth orbit is a place where the size and shape of this 52mm by 52mm by 55mm cube matter considerably because every ounce of payload dramatically raises the price of admission. It's unclear whether the Space Cube, which sports a 300MHz MIPS-based processor and 16 megs of RAM, has ever been sold to the public, but the tiny Japanese PC is available for extraterrestrial research, weddings, and bar mitzvah if desired.
(Photo: Shimafuji Corporation)
Lenovo ThinkPad W700DS (2008)
With dual-screen desktop setups common these days, it was only a matter of time before someone created a dual-screen laptop. One such model by Lenovo, seen here, sports a clever second screen that slides out from behind the first, thus allowing you to easily regret the $5,000 you spent on it when it snaps off due to a clumsy patron at the coffee shop. (Razer teased something similar at CES 2017, so perhaps everything old is new again.)
Commodore 64x (2011)
Nope, this is not the vintage Commodore 64 (released in 1982) home computer you might be familiar with. In 2010, Commodore USA formed to revive the long-dead Commodore brand name. One of its first products, released in 2011, is the Commodore 64x, a modern x86 PC with an Intel Atom processor crammed into a new Commodore 64 look-alike case. Reportedly, the first run of 20,000 units sold out, so perhaps it is on to something. Or perhaps it is lying!!! (I'm kidding, don't sue me.)
(Photo: Commodore USA)
Haier Heart v5 (2007)
Working with a laptop computer can be very uncomfortable for extended periods of time—especially if you place it on your lap. To partially remedy this problem, Chinese PC manufacturer Haier released this strange notebook with an extending, very-adjustable display in 2007. Of all the bizarre PC designs on this list, this one looks like it might be the most useful. It also looks most likely to suddenly remove your digits by accident. But hey, that's just part of being bizarre.