In the final analysis, do these cases offer well-built HTPC platforms with many options, or are they just flashy cases with a pretty face? At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I think the answer is yes to both. Indeed, these are great HTPC cases. And yes, they are definitely flashy with a pretty face.
As for their build qualities, the cases are certainly well-constructed, especially the Moneual 972 and SilverStone CW03. They all look good and appropriate in a home-theater room. They all serve their purpose well, which is to bring the HTPC into the living space inconspicuously and practically, and all of them offer this service without too much hassle as far as hardware installation is concerned.
As far as a flashy, pretty face, they have that, too. As shallow as it may be, the most obvious feature of these cases--the LCD touch screen--is probably a lot more cosmetic than practical. Sure, it allows you to launch music files in a convenient way without powering up your big screen, but other than that, there's not a lot of tangible benefit to watching video on a 7" screen when the computer is presumably attached to an HDTV.
With this in mind, let's consider each case's strengths and weaknesses:
Exceptional build quality, relatively low price, lots of room, included MultiMedia card I/O panel
Large depth may be a detriment, optical drive cover is attached with adhesive, only two 60 mm fans for airflow
Exceptional build quality, appropriate for A/V rack mount, triple the external drive options of competitors
Highest price by far, no included I/O panel
More flex with steel construction, only one color choice
At the end of the day, which case would we choose if tasked to pick the best touch-screen LCD case?
The Moneual 972 offers the best combination of price and build quality. However, both the SilverStone CW03 and Thermaltake DH102 might be better choices in specific circumstances as demonstrated by their unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, if space is an issue, we'd probably choose the DH102, and if we were buying for a rack-mount setup where more than one external drive is important, the SilverStone CW03 is the obvious choice.
On a personal note, I will add that I find these cases to be a little too expensive for my taste. But to be fair, I don't think these cases are intended for use by this writer, just like I don't think Ferrarris and Lamborghinis are made for me, either. Those cars, like these cases, are something I will probably never own. They're for the pure enthusiast crowd with the necessary discretionary income.
But that certainly doesn't stop me from admiring them when I come across one.
- Moneual 972: Specifications, Bundle, And Unique Features
- Moneual 972: Appearance, Fit And Finish, And User Experience
- SilverStone CW03: Specifications, Bundle, And Unique Features
- SilverStone CW03: Appearance, Fit And Finish, And User Experience
- Thermaltake DH102: Specifications, Bundle, And Unique Features
- Thermaltake DH102: Appearance, Fit And Finish, And User Experience
- Touch-Screen Accessories: Soundgraph's iMedian HD, iMon Manager Software, And The iMon Remote
- Real-Life Experience: Using A Touch-Screen LCD With An HTPC case
- Noise Benchmarks