Insights from the Inside: Interview with Antec’s Senior Vice President
VR-Zone: At COMPUTEX 2010, we saw Antec’s new PC enclosure line, Dark Fleet. There are two special features introduced with these chassis – Fleet Swap and Fleet Release. Could you tell us more about them?
Scott Richards: Fleet Swap is our trade name for the hot-swap hard drive bays. The DF-85 has four 3.5″ Fleet Swap drive bays and one 2.5″. Basically, it gives users extra flexibility for people who keep deep libraries of music and movies. It gives the ability to quickly swap in and out and transfer data from one library to another.
Fleet Release is the trade name for the doors that can open and allow you to access your hard drives, and to get to your 5.25″ drive bays. We thought we would put a door on top of the 5.25″ drive bays to give some decoration, rather than letting people just see typical drive bay covers. If you don’t want the door, you can take it off. We disguised the bays, rather than using a whole door because many don’t like the latter.
Fleet Release also opens the door in front of the 3.5″ bays – for hot-swapping hard drives, and also cleaning the fan filter. You will be able to clean the fan filter while the system is working. One of the main complaints of the Nine Hundred and Twelve Hundred is the difficulty of cleaning the fans.
VR-Zone: We have seen many chassis manufacturers introducing tool-less design. What do you think of it?
SR: We use thumbscrews. When we can come up with a quality tool-less design – one that is not plastic, doesn’t break, and doesn’t rattle, then we will introduce it. We think tool-less designs don’t give long life, make extra noise, and they don’t really do a good job of putting components inside the case.
Journalists / reviewers move stuff in and out of their casings all the time; they love tool-less design. The average home user doesn’t do that, he doesn’t have five more drives that need to be reviewed the next day. He configures a system that he probably won’t touch for the next five to six months!
I can’t tell you how many hundreds and thousands of Three Hundreds, Nine Hundreds and Twelve Hundreds – all without tool-less design – that we have sold, because end-users don’t care as much. (smiles)
I will use an example; it’s like you go to the TV store, they show you the picture-and-picture function - you have Channel 1 over here, and Channel 3 over there… It makes a great demonstration in the store, but almost nobody ever uses that at home. (laughs) My TV can do it, but I’ve never done it. Have you ever done it?
VR-Zone: Also displayed at COMPUTEX 2010 was LANBOY Air. The Skeleton and Skeleton Mini allow enthusiasts to show off their components, but what about the LANBOY Air? What makes it different from all the other cases in the market?
SR: The LANBOY Air is a totally unique chassis. You could call it the world’s first modular chassis. When you see the case, you will see that you can, for example, move the hard drives and optical drives in any one of three positions, depending on the airflow and where you want your case to be.
The power supply and motherboard can be moved so that you can put your PSU either on top, or at the bottom. You can put up to 15 fans in any different configuration. You can have watercooling. The case has no limitation on the length of your graphics card. All because it’s an open air design. Some people reacted negatively to the Skeleton because it didn’t look like a chassis even though it’s a nice radical design. But with the LANBOY Air, you can get the benefits of open air design in something that still looks like, and acts like a traditional chassis. Perhaps people will feel more comfortable with this.
VR-Zone: When will LANBOY Air hit retail?
SR: The first shipment arrived in Japan just last Friday, and I’m very happy to say that the shipment of over five hundred units got sold out in one day. It’s not available in the United States yet. Europe will be getting the LANBOY Air next. Worldwide availability will be in about three weeks.
VR-Zone: The Performance One series of enclosures has been around for a long time. The P180 was fantastic with its well-thought internal layout and its clean exterior. With the P183 and P193, Antec addressed cooling concerns by introducing larger vents by the sides of the front bezel, and on the front door as well. However, it seems that the community still prefers the minimalistic appearance of the P180? And does Antec have plans to update the Performance One series?
SR: P180 to P183 was just a natural evolution. As the internal components get faster and hotter, we had to get more airflow. They wouldn’t prefer if their graphics card started overheating! (grin) I understand that people may not like changes we make. It’s subjective, but we had to have some way to bring more air in but still keep the case quiet. Everytime you change something classic, there will be people who don’t like it.
An update would come in around eight to nine months time. We still think the three-layer design is the best for quiet performance. Nobdy has anything like it. If people told you this is an old design, we’d say it is still a new design because no one has been able to copy it. Only we have mastered that design – a quiet high performance, sound-deadening design.