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Reviewed by: Ed Lau [04.25.04]
Manufactured by: Soltek

Street Price: $255 at
$260 for mirror finish version

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Not Quite Drop Dead...But Worse Than Some Mild Discomfort

Like the rotary sport car, the Qbic is shiny enough to see yourself in. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you (or you can blame your parents). The mirrored front panel option is definetely a head turner but unfortunately, the one we have here at hardCOREware doesn't have any of those fancy clothes and opts instead for a brushed aluminum look. I just thought you should know.  Also, from the pictures, I can only assume that the mirror is more succeptable to fingerprints and scratches, which is importantsince with any SFF, portablity is key. Everytime you pick the box up, you're going to leaving some evidence for those guys on CSI. The mirror finished versions go for about $5 more than the aluminum types.

The front is illuminated by a VERY bright blue LED mounted in the power button.

While the front is largely made of plastic, the rest of the chassis is a thin and light aluminum which is basically two pieces: the base and the cover. The top and sides is one piece held on by three thumbscrews. Despite being a relatively small case, the Qbic has room for two 5.25" drives as well as a 3.5", possibly a floppy but more likely for a flash card reader or a fan control. I mean, who uses floppies anymore?

All the drives are covered by springloaded doors which is both a blessing and a curse. While it gives the unit a more unified, clean look, it prevents any real use of devices like LCD screens, control ports and the such. A Matrix Orbital screen would really look great on a home theater PC.  Also, the doors are very 'plastic' and the hinges don't seem very solid. I wouldn't be surprised if they snapped after some usage.

Unfortunately, the plastic front panel is strangley two-tone and isn't quite as sexy as it could be.  While I can see why Soltek would not to copy Shuttle's style and choose a more unique path, reinventing the wheel isn't a good idea unless you can make a better one.

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