Spotswood Custom Computer Casesby Derek Wilson on August 27, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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At my house, we have a music room. Normally it houses a piano, a 5-piece drum kit, three acoustic guitars (one is a 12-string), one electric bass, a djembe, two amps, a cheap 8-channel ADC (balanced to light pipe), two PA speakers, a few mics, and a computer. For us, it's all about functionality: we like to play music and sometimes we even like to record what we do. We're not professional musicians, but we enjoy our hobby.
While I'm quite lucky my wife shares my interest in music (and it was still difficult to convince her that we really didn't need a dining room), she doesn't really like having computers randomly strewn throughout the house. Actually, that's putting it nicely. Regardless of the fact that it is useful to have a computer in the dining... err... music room, she still doesn't like the fact that it looks out of place and messy. Granted I don't use cases at all in my house, but even a standard monolith of a computer case wouldn't do much to impress.
Different people have different preferences, and I generally hate generalizations. I feel like the key is to understand generalizations have plenty of exceptions, and just go from there. It does seem that women tend to place more value on the appearance of things in their home than men do. Sure, there are neat and organized men out there (I'm not one of them), but the hard and often downright ugly look of technology seems more often to be excused by men than women - and that's perfectly fine. Why shouldn't technology be functional or beneficial and fit the décor of a room?
The trend to improve the WAF (or Wife Acceptance Factor) of technology has been increasing in the CE market, as the industry has begun to realize that it is ridiculous not to address the desires of people who place a high value on the comfort, look, and feel of their home. There are people out there who want technology and the benefits it can bring into their lives, but who aren't willing to sacrifice their comfort to attain it. After all, we have to live in our homes and we see the things in our homes every day. If the simple look of something in your living space offends you, that's simply not acceptable.
The PC industry hasn't gotten as much attention as the CE industry in this area. With the exception of the HTPC, the desktop computer isn't really a living room sort of device. However, what about those people who want and need access to a powerful computer that will be positioned in an exposed prominent area of the house? You can't fit a full sized ATX system with a quad-core CPU and a RAID array into an HTPC case. Besides, go look at the cost of nice looking furniture, and suddenly a few extra hundred dollars to make your PC fit the décor is a pittance! There are people willing to pay a lot of extra money for something that has the right aesthetics, so it's hardly a surprise to see PC manufacturers catering to their needs.
In our search for something workable, we stumbled upon a very interesting oddity at Spotswood Custom Computers: a round, wooden PC case. It even looks like a kick drum. Hell, you can even get one with drumheads on it. How awesome is that for an extension of music room décor? Of course, with look taken care of, we do need to investigate functionality. This thing needs to be capable of everything any other computer case is able to handle and more. Can it meet your look-and-feel needs while also providing a robust computing solution?
While Spotswood builds each case to order (which means the cases can be customized to exactly fit the needs of your computer), they are all variations on a theme. The basic options are 18", 20", and 24" round cases in one of two styles: C and L. Spotswood sent us a C series case with the hardware required to turn it into an L series case. First, we'll look at the C-24 setup and then we'll look at it as an L-24. Following our look at the case itself, we'll install a system and document our experience.