Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Laptops should put a greater emphasis on personalisation
OPINION: Every laptop company seems to be dead set on releasing the same silver and grey models each year, with very few putting any thought into how much a user can personalise the design.
When I picture a laptop, I usually imagine a minimalist grey device with a large shiny logo on the lid. The Huawei MateBook and Apple MacBook range of laptops are the perfect examples; sleek, professional devices that perform very well, but are almost indistinguishable from each other.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the MateBook 16, thinking it was the MateBook 16D, to find out that it was actually the MateBook 16s. And while most people won’t be using three almost identical laptops at the same time, it speaks volumes to the sad trend I’ve seen with laptops recently, wherein companies seem to think that dull, lifeless designs are the safest ways to go.
That’s why I was so thrilled to review the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022). Gaming laptops usually do have a little more personality to them, but I’ve never seen a laptop that gave me so much freedom when it comes to personalisation.
It comes with the usual RGB lighting effects that you would expect – and to its credit, there is no grey colourway in sight – but what really interests me is the customisable lid.
After downloading ROG Armoury I was suddenly inundated with options on how to light up my laptop. My personal favourite is Starry Night set to a fast pace, as the lid of the laptop twinkles and sparkles as I play along to Stardew Valley.
And I’ll be the first to note that this feature is, for all intents and purposes, useless. It does not affect the performance of the laptop and if anything, it must drain the battery a lot faster than if I didn’t use it. But there is something so satisfying about being able to pick my favourite light-up scene every time I log on to play a new game. The process of setting up the animation and trying out new text features is just plain fun.
I do accept that not every laptop needs a feature like this, and I can’t imagine that many professional office workers want their laptops to light up the room as I do. But even if you’re not interested in features that stand out, I don’t see anything unprofessional about more colours appearing on laptops. Huawei did alleviate this issue slightly with the Spruce Green MateBook 14s, and Apple has tried to make things more interesting with the Starlight version of the MacBook Air M2, but these changes are few and far between.
Companies probably should put more emphasis on the performance of their devices rather than the look, as even I wouldn’t want an aesthetically beautiful laptop that couldn’t open up Chrome. But I do think many companies have missed a trick by ignoring the designs of their devices, as I have to admit that I am getting more and more put off seeing the exact same designs year after year.
There is a balance to be struck here, and that’s what I think the ROG Zephyrus G14 does brilliantly. It played contemporary games without issue, tackled productivity work like it was nothing, and looked great while doing so.
Not every laptop needs to be packed full of personalisation features to make it great, but I think they make a lot more of an impact than many companies are willing to accept.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.