CES - Antec launches slick new PC cases

Looking to capture the imagination of what it says is an ever-growing population of people building their own PCs, case maker Antec is unveiling two new products lines: The Lifestyle and LANBOY series.

Antec targets its three Lifestyle cases at users who want to move their next PC into the living room. The LANBOY series--so far just a single box--is for users who want a mobile desktop for gaming parties. The case maker is showing the designs during the Consumer Electronics Show.

Elegant PC?

With the Lifestyle Series, Antec is aiming to create a set of cases that differ from everything else on the market, but without resorting to gaudy colors to stand out, says Scott Richards, vice president of sales and marketing.

"We wanted stylish--with enhanced quality--but not cartoon colors," he says.

Each of the three Lifestyle cases shares the same glossy, piano-black finish with chrome accents, and offers front-mounted audio, USB, and FireWire ports. The Sonata is a mini tower; the Fusion is a horizontal unit designed to blend in with home theater components; and the Minuet is a mini desktop that is just 16.8 inches deep by 12.75 inches wide by 3.8 inches tall.

In addition to looking good, all three models contain new technologies, Richards says. Among them: New internal drive bays with special rubber grommets that absorb hard drive vibrations so the PC runs more quietly.

The Fusion and Sonata cases also include Antec's single-fan TruePower power supply, which uses one 120mm fan that draws in the same amount of air as two 80mm fans, while running slower and more quietly. The Minuet includes a micro-version of the same power supply.

Antec expects to ship the Sonata, which is expected to retail at US$129, to the US in January and to Australia in March. Both the Fusion and Minuet products will be available in Australia during March/April. Prices have not yet been determined.

LAN Delight

With LANBOY, Antec hopes to capitalize on the growing LAN party trend, when gamers lug their PCs to one place, set up a network, and then face off. Built from lightweight aluminum, the case weighs 13 pounds (with power supply) and includes a carrying strap for easy portability.

A key to winning LAN gamers over is flexibility, Richards says. Consequently, Antec designed the LANBOY case with eight drive bays. The unit supports a standard ATX motherboard.

Many LAN gamers are proud of their machines, and Antec lets them show off their babies with a window side panel that offers a view of the unit's glowing 350 SmartBlue ATX12V power supply as well as all their other high-end components.

Antec is shipping the LANBOY now to the US; the street price is about US$99. Antec expects to be selling the product through its Australian retail partner Altech, in February for the same price.

Higher Prices?

In a market where US$99 was the top end just a year ago, Richards admits the newest cases--particularly the Lifestyles--aren't cheap. However, he says, Antec's customers make it clear they're willing to pay upwards of $100 for a high-quality case.

Plus, with Antec you get complete installation instructions, customer service, and a three-year warranty. For many of the people who build their own PCs, it is about having the best, he says.

He likens today's PC builders to people who like to work on their cars. "Some people just drive a stock automobile, while others like to enhance their vehicle," he says. "Computers are like that now. Some people are happy with a Dell or HP, others want to build their own to get exactly what they want."

More information on Antec's products is available at their Web site: www.antec-inc.com/.

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