Antec's Skeleton is the strangest PC case you can buy that is not also a ridiculous one. This is because it's not a case at all, but rather a naked frame designed to hold your components neatly beneath a huge fan.
It looks great, though it might not after you've filled it with old computer junk. The only way it could have been better would be for the swooping ornamental arches to be made of pig iron rather than plastic, for a fully industrial effect. Nonetheless, it's solid and well-engineered, with no sharp edges. Trays for motherboard, power supply and peripherals slide neatly in and out.
Scott Richards, a senior Vice President at Antec, told me it was intended for high-end gamers, but attracted interest from style magazines.
"We were a little nervous," Richards said. "We showed in in secret at CES last year, to ... advanced computer types. The response was and has been amazing."
They did not want to over-adorn it with clever features, he added, in the hope that it would attain a timeless look.
Transferring the contents of another PC into it was a snap: I've built a handful of computers, and this was the least harrowing experience. Perhaps this'll make it interesting to both experienced system builders, who want easy access to the innards, and to new hands wanting something that will make setup and troubleshooting easier.
It's bigger than you imagine it to be, about 16 inches square at the base. This, however, makes it large enough to accomodate full-size ATX gear and big video cards. The mainboard sits on top, directly beneath the fan, with space for two optical drives and two 3.5" drives below. A tiny Mini-ITX version will be out presently.
Two USB ports, firewire, e-SATA and audio I/O line one of the bars. Its 250mm fan barely hums; of course, if you put loud stuff inside it, there's no enclosure to dampen the sound.
There are cons, mostly obvious ones. It's vulnerable to dust, liquids, small kids and pets. It takes up a lot of space, and is, despite its minimalist airs, an ostentatious design. If you hate visible cables, this is simply not the box for you. The fans' shifting disco lights are cheesy, but you can turn them off.
Finally, at $160 it's quite expensive. You don't get a free power supply, either, meaning your total outlay will likely be more than $200.
A wonderful design married to quality workmanship, Antec's Skeleton offers something nothing else does. That said, I expect it's pointless trying to convince anyone one way or another – who could not have made up theirs mind the instant they saw it?
Update: Commenter Vamidus points out that Tech Station already makes similar – if less attractive – workbenches.