Always Bet on Black

Silver was the New Black, but black is the New Silver. It's true. The pendulum has swung back. Portents of it are everywhere in the consumer electronics industry.

Black lost out years ago because it looked plastic, despite the fact that plastic really looks best in black. So the mainstream started to emulate the high-end brushed aluminum thing, and it worked, for a while. Respectable mid-market home theater gear HAD to be silver. But turnabout was inevitable, really, once you could buy a shiny silver DVD player for $29.99 at Walmart. Then it was obvious that the sexy new silver was mostly the same plastic as ever, tarted up with what amounts to chrome—in some cases even actual chrome. And chrome is the sort of thing that seems like a good idea for about ten minutes. As soon as everybody and their third grade teacher owned a cell phone that looked like it fell out of the Tin Man's ass, we were bound to be back in black again.

Those portents I promised you:

What brought on this moment of industrial-design clarity? Why, the arrival of my new Canon Powershot G6. I'm going to fall hard for this camera, I know it—the combination of photogeek manual control over everything and the obvious virtue of the button-heavy menu-light interface make it inevitable. Plus, the INTERVALOMETER—need I say more? But, despite all that, I must confess to a slight nagging wish: that the thing were prettier. I feel guilty even saying it, as though I was mentioning some defect in my high school sweetheart (one imagines), but there it is. It's large and dorky looking, definitely a neck-strap camera, but that would still be okay if it were just black! It's already happened: silver is associated in my mind with early noughties electronics as much as mint green with fifties kitchen appliances and "Harvest Gold" with late 70s bathroom fixtures. Anyway, a black camera says something. It says professional. And that's what you want to be, isn't it?

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