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Can Design Save the PC?

The increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets has prompted doomsayers to (once again) begin the deathwatch for laptops and desktops.

The consumer technology market has come a long way since August 1977, when RadioShack introduced the TRS 80, the market's first complete, preassembled small-computer system. The Level I basic came with 4K of RAM, a monitor, a cassette, and all needed cables and adaptors. It sold for $599.95.

It's not the first time since the TRS 80's heyday faded that the death of personal computers has been prophesied, but some numbers now support the negative outlook. Last year, for the first time in 11 years, PC sales were down, falling 3.5 percent, according to Gartner. And IDC doesn't expect the industry to regain that ground this year.

Don't give up on PC makers just yet, though. New processor chips give PCs extra battery life and more raw power. And manufacturers are finally breaking out of the design patterns that have been omnipresent for most of the past 15 years.

A black box or a bulky laptop is easy to find if that's what you want, but several more interesting options are available. Here are 10 ways the PC market can save itself through design innovation.

SSPL | Getty Images