There are a lot of people who look at apple's recent computers and reflect that the computers are overpriced or the person reflecting doesn't like the color, and therefore the machine must be horribly designed. While clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design of the recent macs, pretty much everyone i've talked to has been unable to care about any design/engineering aspects of these computers, whether positive or negative, other than the fact that they're shiny and they have colors.

Well, that's not what i'm here to talk about.

I'm here to talk about something that apple's recent computers have that are wonderful, wonderful things; something that all the PC manufacturers really ought to be copying off of apple, instead of copying the idea of using cheap colored plastic:

Handles.

Apple has had this right pretty much from the beginning. All the early 9-inch one-piece macs have handles, and they're all of a low bulk and form such that you can simply pick one of them up and carry it somewhere practically effortlessly with one hand.. but then everyone got tired of tiny black and white screens, the Mac IIs showed up, and apple stopped using handles.

But then Steve returned and the much-maligned imac came along, and apple returned to the idea of making computers that should be easy to carry around. The imac has a wonderful handle right across the top that blends in nicely with the design, and if you ever have to carry around/move around an imac or many imacs, whether you like the imac or not, you will be glad of that handle. And the imac is put together and weighted in such a way as to make the carrying easy. This is, by the way, one reason apple will never ever see a 17-inch imac; a 17-inch imac would be bulky and impossible to carry with one hand, thus nicely defeating the purpose of the imac (i.e. to have something compact and simple). Anything larger than 15" is bulky, and at that point it starts making even less sense to have the monitor attached to the computer.

I have a power mac g4. It is wonderful; i am very happy with it. You may think it's an awful computer, but that's ok; it suits my needs. The case had nothing to do with my purchase of the computer; i chose based on the hardware inside, and based on the fact that i am able to be most efficient in the environment provided by the mac os. However, the case is wonderful. Especially the handles. If you have ever seen a power mac g4 or a g3 smurf tower, you may have noticed these crazy swooping feet things swerving out from the corners of the machine. Besides providing a low-friction way for the machine to sit any side up, these feet are also (yes!) handles. And they are a godsend. I have to move and carry around the g4 a lot, and it has been so, so wonderful to just be able to grab the nicely-gripped handles coming out the side, or just hold it up with a single handle in one hand for a moment while my other hand is free to open doors and such, and easily walk wherever i need with it.. while the others awkwardly cradle their boxy PC towers in their arms, possibly even cutting themselves on the exposed metal if it's a particularly nasty case.

And just for the record, i believe the underside of the Power Mac G4 cube has some part to it that works wonderfully as a handle, although with a lightweight 8-inch cube handles aren't really needed as much, since easy portability is pretty much the point of the design..

The case should not be a terribly important part of the computer, really, but if you do anything with the case design, it should be done for easy portability purposes. (OK, that and easy access to the innards, but that's another discussion).. and the easiest way to do this is handles. And PC makers could learn a lot from these four previously listed computers: they have handles, the handles are all designed in such a way as to be unintrusive and not compromise the necessary internal space of the case in any way, and all three are easy in form to carry.

I do not wish to have a flamewar here, though i fear starting a flamewar is inevitable if you say complementary things about apple in any way. If anyone reading "retaliates" by saying something like "yeah, well apple's design division sucks, because they don't sell two-button mice bundled with the computer!" then that person is a troll. Whether they are right or not, they are offtopic, because Apple's capability at designing computers is not the purpose of this node; the purpose of this node is to extol one particular design decision which they have truly done right, and which i have not seen done right elsewhere. If a PC computer manufacturer makes a computer with handles, i extol their design decision as well. However i am not aware of any PC computer cases with handles; it is my hope that if anyone reading this is aware of such a case/computer, they will post here and enlighten us all.

Let all sing the praises of computers with handles!

Of course, while I heartily agree with mcc's writeup, let us not forget that the iMac or even the Compact Mac was not the first computer to come with a handle! For nostalgia's sake, how many machines can you name that predate the compact Mac and had handles as an integral part of the case design? More node-fu for those machines that were all-in-ones, or close to it. I think we should disqualify notebook computers, although it still strikes me as odd that things so expensive and mobile don't, often, have handles! Go Apple.

In any case, here's a few off the top of my head:

  • The Kaypro
  • The Apple IIc
  • The PC/XT Portable and derivatives(heehee...I have one of these..."portable" my wide black beh...er, nevermind).
  • The Osborne, for the world's first mass-market 'portable'

How to add a handle to any computer's tower case:

Go to your local hardware store and obtain the following items:

1 handle (larger is better, as it will make your system more comfortable to carry)
4 machine screws
4 6-32 machine screws, 1/2 inch long
4 6-32 lock nuts (the sort with the little nylon disk inside)
4 washers, about 1/2 inch diameter, or as large as will fit next to each other on the holes in the handle

Place the handle on the center of the top of the case, and mark where the four screw holes should be. Remove all components from inside the case, including the power supply. Centerpunch the holes by placing a nail on each of the four hole locations and tapping *LIGHTLY* with a hammer (or, use an actual centerpunch if you have one). Carefully drill the holes using a power drill or a drill bit of suitable size mounted in a Dremel. Install the handle on the outside of the case, with the washers on the inside, and secure with the screws and nuts.

Clean ALL metal filings from inside and outside the case using a brush and vacuum cleaner. Get all of those little buggers out, or you WILL have fried components later! Once that's done, you can go ahead and reinstall everything.

Enjoy your system's new convenience and portability!

There are also handles available at your local marine supply store which will fold down flush with the top of your case. These will require a large hole to be cut in the top of the case using a nibbling tool or jigsaw.

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