“I think with Vista getting better, there will be demands for higher-end hardware in order to deliver the compelling DX10 experience for which we’re all looking. Developers can rejoice because they can remove the mind barriers and start dreaming creatively. They shouldn’t have to worry about hardware limitations when dreaming up a new title; rather, they should go with the craziest content they can draw up and scale it accordingly. I believe there hasn’t been a year where more quality titles are being released for the PC. This year and next year are going to be amazing — and we believe the demand for quality, not quantity, will be a natural progression” (Sood).
As long as gamers continue to buy new computers every few years, the future looks bright. Other boutique companies, such as Falcon Northwest, could also benefit from the increased attention to high-end gaming computers and the games that take advantage of them, and high-end features just might work their way into more affordable machines faster.
Perhaps most importantly, these changes have opened a Pandora’s Box of questions about what a 21st century computer should really be. Should it be a drab box, hidden away in a corner or under a piece of furniture like a surge suppressor, where all that matters is whether or not it facilitates running what users want to run? Should it be an attractive piece of art, with such stunning design that users would want to display it prominently in a central location for all to see and admire? Or should it be a functionally expandable unit, where form and substance are melded to allow for maximum customizability, so components can be changed with ease?
With Dell focusing on optimized price-performance ratios (Kittleson says, “We think the XPS 720 HC will appeal to gamers who desire power with an edge”), and HP focusing on innovative engineering oriented toward customer need (Sood says, “In many cases, people will spend a few extra bucks to get something a bit different, and the Blackbird 002 is a serious piece of masterpiece engineering representing the best desktop performance PC on the planet”), these two giants are placing their bets rather differently. Instead of the oft-discussed “battle for the living room” among electronics vendors, this is a different kind of competition among distinctly different visions. It remains to be seen which vision will ultimately win — or whether all will just continue to coexist — in the competitive and changing PC computer marketplace.