Poll: Design vs. Specs or Functionality?

With the hundreds and thousands of comments we get regarding all sort of gadgets (including cars), there’s almost always a big line that divides people who prefer design and people who prefer specs or functionality.

I think this preference with one aspect over the other is not that consistent and might shift or change depending on the category.

I’d like to test that idea and ask our readers (especially the very vocal ones) what they prefer when looking for the following:

  • Buying a new smartphone? You prefer design over specs?
  • When buying a new car, do you go after the looks or the functionality?
  • When getting a new laptop — is it specs or design?
  • What about a wrist watch? Is it design or functionality? Are you the G-Shock type or the Rolex-type of person?
  • How about a TV set? Would you go for an unknown LED TV (like KTC for example) or a branded one?

And here’s another observation — the preference for a specific category also changes.

When buying a laptop, I think you’ll agree with me the “specs” should matter most than design, right? But when I replaced my Asus UL20FT running Core i3 with 500GB HDD and 4GB RAM with a Macbook Air 11 running 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 64GB SSD and 2GB memory, I’m basically saying design, and not specs, was the primary reason for this shift.

When I bought my Tucson and Lancer EX, my primary reason for getting them was because I really liked their looks. Didn’t really care about the brand or what’s under the hood.

It was a little different with smartphones — I always go for the specs when getting an Android phone (even with the iPhone, I think it was still specs over design).

The same goes with a TV set — I’d go for specs and functionality over brand name and design.

I noticed that a lot of tech companies try so hard to pitch the angle of lifestyle when doing product launches lately. It’s because lifestyle is an easier sell. People are more willing to pay for what they “desire” than what they actually “need”. This is the reason why some handsets or laptops are more expensive than other even if they have the same specs.

Ok, the Nokia Oro is an extreme case (or this $3.2 million iPhone 3GS Supreme) but it is still draws the line between those who can afford to give in to their desires and those who can’t.

40 Comments on this Post

  1. Edgar

    We chose a Sony over Devant when my wife and I went shopping for an LCD TV. We were tempted for a while to choose the latter but we decided we’d sleep better with a Sony. So far we have several appliances of the brand and we are satisfied with their performance and the after sales service.

  2. Good design is not just design for the sake of looks and vanity — it is design that also includes functionality.

    Dieter Rams demonstrates this principle in his works as an industrial designer, and summarizes them as follows:


    Good design is innovative.
    Good design makes a product useful.
    Good design is aesthetic.
    Good design makes a product understandable.
    Good design is unobtrusive.
    Good design is honest.
    Good design is long-lasting.
    Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
    Good design is environmentally friendly.
    Good design is as little design as possible.
    Copyright Dieter Rams, amended March 2003 and October 2009

    Design and functionality are not mutually exclusive. In fact to consider something to be of good design, it *must* be functional.

  3. Jeric

    *Smartphone – Design and ease of use (still love the smoothness of iOS).

    *Car – I don’t have a car but i think budget and yung practical when it comes to maintenance.

    *Laptop – definitely specs and probably go for all around performance, so probably asus, acer, msi,hp,dell type of laptops. I don’t mind the looks.

    *Watch – design, don’t need other features as long as it gives time and looks nice.

    *LED/LCDTV – specs, nevermind the brand as long as specs is good and produces quality images plus budget is the factor.

  4. kannuchi

    For me, I often look at the specs first.
    I look for the services offered by the brand like Apps, games, and integrated support with other softwares.
    Then I also investigate on the brand’s support and services in the country. :P
    But of course, OS compatibility with hardware! That’s why I salute iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia and upcoming WP7 for their tight compatiblity with hardware! :D

  5. LunaTech

    Smartphone: Galaxy Tab (I Preferred Specs)

    Car: Nissan Frontier 2003 (I preferred functionality coz i need it for my business)

    Laptop: Alienware M11x (I preferred Specs AND design)

    Wrist watch: Fossil (design)

    TV set: Samsung 32″ Series 3 (Brand)

  6. Laptop: Specs of course but need to check if it’s within budget range.

    TV: Specs and warranty. Don’t settle with 1 year since there are already offering 2 or 3 years.

    Phone: Specs over design of course.

  7. Fleeb

    Specs and functionality first. Then between the initial choices, go for the design.

  8. Ralph

    Laptop – Specs of course, but if you’re using it just for surfing the web, I go for the design..

    Smartphone – Specs..

    Car – looks..

  9. JoanneS

    -Smartphone: Specs and functionality over design

    *primary: nokia e63/samsung galaxy ace- for work, email, chat, wifi, bluetooth;
    *secondary: Samsung E1080 -for SMS and calls only

    -Laptop: Specs over design, what would I do with an eyecandy if it cannot perform the tasks i needed to do? (Currently uses Toshiba and Dell)

    -Watch: Design, brand and functionality (owns 1 fossil and 2 anne klein – work/dress watch; and 1 casio -outdoors)

    -TV: I don’t own a LED/LCD TV, I use conventional slim type CRT TV – don’t really need those since i’m not a TV junkie and i’m rarely at home

  10. Smartphone= Design and specs, some phones offer that. Ok, I’m not that of an iPhone fan but they sell not just because of the Apple logo at their back but because of the user experience it can give. The smoothness of iOS is undoubtedly the best. Android is good too, but I think uniformity is a good thing. And mind you, the specs of the iP4 is great.

    Car= Would you buy a Honda Jazz if you live in place far from the city? Of course not, functionality is the first thing I think about whenever I buy a car.

    Laptop= Specs and design because some can give that. This might be possible but expect the unfriendly prictag on these laptops. I prefer Mac, HP, Toshiba and Sony.

    Watch= Looks. (That was easy)

    TV= Branded. Oftentimes, the brands says what the quality of the TV is.

    Actually, it’s just a matter of thinking what fits your lifestyle. You can get both functionality and design but you’d pay a little bit more though.

  11. The functionality will *should* always be the deciding factor when I purchase an item, be it a gadget or am appliance of what have you. In this china-driven time where almost everything is made in china or ridiculously over priced due to some “design tweaks”, it is more practical to prioritize function than design…Unless of course you’re more worried of the status quo than the actual function of the phone.

    iphone = gold iphone

  12. chinitoguy

    Buying a new phone – I prefer a phone with good specs but with a good price as well. On my requirement I prefer to be always connected like checking my email, Facebook, and Twitter even if my trustworthy laptop is not with me. A perfect example of this phone is the Samsung Galaxy Ace. Its got 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a touchscreen. A perfect everyday companion.

    When buying a new car its between design and functionality. Last year we are choosing between the stylish Honda CR-V, Mistubishi Montero and Toyota Innova. We picked the Innova because its the best of both plus the price tag of just over a million pesos is not bad considering the features and the Toyota badge.

    Buying a new laptop – now this is a dilemma. When I bought my Acer Timeline X, I was choosing this and a tablet like Apple iPad or the Samsung Galaxy S. After a week of reflecting I chose my Acer Timeline X because of the specs. I realized that Im still loyal to Microsoft Windows over Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS and Chrome OS. My Acer Timeline is powered by Windows 7.

    Buying a new TV – I still prefer to buy the trusty and branded ones like Samsung, Sharp and Sony. Between these three I prefer a Samsung LCD TV since its still cheaper than a LED TV. If the TV makers can make LED TVs lower I guess I could consider it.

  13. definitely functionality…

  14. Benchmark

    SMARTPHONES: I prefer specs over design. But of course with a reputable brand.

    CAR: I don’t have one but if I will be buying one, I go for the sporty look like Suzuki Swift. :)

    LAPTOP: I’d go for looks. I remember once in Malaysia, I don’t have plan to buy a netbook there. But When I saw the very first Acer Aspire One…I got to have this one! Even if I haven’t read the specs! hehehehe

    Wrist watch: I’d go for design. As for the G-shock type or Rolex-type, I am both (for rugged and for formal look).

    TV Set: I would go for known brand first before comparing the specs to other known brand.

  15. lawrence

    Smartphone: it depends on the categories and range. In smartphone, middle-range to high-end. I will choose design over specs. As long as it will perform its function. I will always choose xperia arc over samsung s2, primarily because of the premium feel. with the 29K I will be spending, I always want my phone to feel distinct and look the way it was priced. I don’t like samsung design, even the low-end shares the look with the high-end. this is my preference because I think dual-cores are too much for my mobile use.

  16. Design + Specs + Functionality + Support = iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, MacBook Pro, and iMac

  17. asdfasdf

    Smartphone – Brand first then specs over design.

    Car – Brand first then design over specs.

    Laptop – Specs over design.

    Watch – Design over specs. disposable?

    Tv – Brand first then design over specs. no to Pensonic/Sonic/Sansui.

    Warranty muna ang pinaka importante. Repairs and Service centers. This is the single most important driving force in my purchasing decision.

  18. enrico

    for me, functionality and DURABILITY!! :D

  19. Hmmmm Specs and Price. I was wondering why you didnt include Price????

  20. Functionality, specs the design…in that order…

  21. Base from what I have observed, most men decide based on their functionaliy + technical specs while women base their decision on design + brand.

    For me, it would be functionality + Specs then brand and design. :)

  22. I prefer the following when:

    •Buying a new smartphone: both form and functionality
    •When buying a new car: Looks that could kill
    •When getting a new laptop: Mac or nothing
    •What about a wrist watch: I’d go for legacy watches like Rolex, i never had trend watches
    •How about a TV set: branded ones always has good post-sale support

  23. I love design and specs :D

  24. JuanMarco

    As a tech geek, I typically look at the specs on paper first with a cursory look at what the device looks like. These days, manufacturers know well enough to encase an impressively spec’d device in an equally impressive body. Once I’ve narrowed down the ones I like according to spec (and of course, have the money necessary to purchase them) that’s when I start going out to give them a hands on to see what they feel like. This is where the design aspect comes in.

    Long story short, it’s the specs that attract but it’s the design that clinches the purchase decision.

  25. goodha67

    smartphone: specs of course. even if it is just the typical cellphone, i would still go for specs.

    car: specs first, design second. in my book, there is just one car brand where specs and design are one which is the iconic Volkwagen Beetle “pagong” style.

    watch: still for specs. what is the use of the good design if the watch could not withstand the test of time. this applies to casio gshock series, rolex and my favorite Omega(especially the Moon watch professional which had won over the Rolex Daytona and other brands during the NASA test).

    TV: still specs since im just using a CRT TV.


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