Another Case For Review
Reader response to our last round-up was off the chart. Readers flooded our inbox with a variety of questions and comments concerning our last THG case review, 15 Cases For Review .
Although in our last case review we were able to review fifteen models, this time we upped the stakes and got 24 beauties in to the labs. Many of the models presented in this review are a direct result of feedback from you. You spoke, we hope we got many of your favorites into the mix this time.
Design, Innovation, And Product Branding Are Very Important
We discovered a number of fresh unique design concepts. Some innovators selected new `ground breaking' areas in order to get our attention. An attention to innovative packaging and improved documentation has become a new way for manufacturers to stand out from the crowd, while also helping coax consumers to happily part with their hard earned wages. Some of these new concepts are more appealing than others, but the bottom line is this: case manufacturers are reading and listening to your comments, and they realize that they can no longer cater to just the `plain vanilla' crowd and the mass market.
What does this mean for the typical consumer? More choice, of course. But the latest trend seems to signal a focus away from "boutique style" case manufacturers to the "big guy" manufacturers. The "boutique style" case manufacturers generally have focused more on quality and unique features than have the industry stalwarts. Since economic times have been very challenging in the computer industry, the big guys have finally seen the light and are trying to make a bigger impression in this market.
What has this done to the boutique case manufacturers? They have obviously had to continue to "out think" and "out innovate" the big guys by introducing new ideas and bringing them to the market place first. Many of the features that once were the exclusive domain of high-end "boutique style" cases can now be found on some of the lowest end case models. Some of these features are simply non-functional glitz and eye candy, but that's not always a bad thing. The end result is that many of you have decided that it is worth investing more money in a case purchase, putting your cases through to two or three upgrade cycles. Therefore, brand loyalty and product branding are now more important in this product category, a category that did not always hold much sex appeal.
One additional item worth noting were the many surprisingly passionate requests from you that we review a few cases that were in either the desktop or small desktop form factor. As many of you pointed out, this is an area where most case reviews tend to fall short. We have included several of these models in this review to try to provide an idea of where this trend in cases is headed. For the time being, at least in the small form factor department, there is some catch up that needs to take place.