Scented, other 'fashion' PCs hit the catwalk

Type-and-sniff computers may be just what seemingly smell-obsessed teens are nosing around for

 The Gateway M-6867 notebook is a $900 Vista Home Premium PC with a 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 4GB of RAM, 320GB of storage and more. But it's the garnet-red case that makes it stand out from other midrange consumer notebooks.

The Gateway M-6867 notebook is a $900 Vista Home Premium PC with a 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 4GB of RAM, 320GB of storage and more. But it's the garnet-red case that makes it stand out from other midrange consumer notebooks.

No two industries appear more dissimilar than those of PCs and fashion. One has long been marketed on style, the other on function. One is dominated by female consumers, the other by male buyers.

Yet the shelf life of high-end tech gear is as ephemeral as the latest fashion trends. And there are clear examples of industry crossover: the importance of style to Apple's success, or the recent interest in "geek chic."

At the PROJECT Las Vegas fashion trade show this week, Microsoft is trying to bring the two worlds together, strutting its partners' coolest PC designs before fashionistas and style divas.

"People are into style, into how they and their clothes look. Why not be into the PC they carry?" asks Rob Poznanski, senior marketing manager in the OEM division at Microsoft.

One innovative PC on display in Las Vegas this week is the new Asus F6V, which emits one of four scents matched to the color of the machine's case. The scents range from "Musky Black" to "Bloom" (pink), "Aqua Ocean" (blue) and "Morning Dew" (green).

The scents were developed in Taiwan, in secret, for a year, reports Forbes.com.

Asus, which has ridden the success of its Eee PC, a mini, ultracheap laptop, to the No. 6 spot worldwide among laptop vendors, according to IDC, developed a heat-transfer printing technology in order to imbue a clear plastic film with a scent. The film is then wrapped around the notebook. The scent lasts from three to six months, depending on the weather it is subjected to.

The US$1,300 Intel Core 2 Duo-powered laptops are aimed at people in their 20s "who like to attract attention and show off in their Facebook photos," an Asus representative told Forbes.com.

While scent-emitting laptops may sound like a lame gimmick like Smell-O-Vision, they could prove popular with the young, trend-conscious customers Asus is apparently targeting. Air fresheners such as Febreze and Glade that are designed to look like CD players and "play" scented "discs" are fast growing in popularity among teens and college students, especially girls, The New York Times has reported.

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Eric Lai

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