GlacialTech did an excellent job at designing the front of the Altair A380 case. The face is contemporary and very clean. The last thing you want is a "fancy" HTPC case which draws attention away from what you're watching on the TV. The power button located to the right side of the case, just under it is HDD indicator LED.
The power button illuminates
when the system is powered on.
The Altair A380 case has a very specific purpose that's why GlacialTech places a media reader on the front of the case and it covers all the major media standards. If you want to connect a USB device, there are two ports on the front and the headphone/microphone jacks are a nice touch. It would have been nice if GlacialTech could have placed an IEEE 1394a port on the front of the case too, while it's not as popular as the USB standard, there are still a lot of digital/video cameras that connect by Firewire.
reader can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, given proper
adapters. The circle in the middle is the infrared sensor, which picks up
commands from the remote or certain mouse and keyboard sets.
Once a DVD drive is installed you can physically access
it through the button on the front of the case. May I suggest something like
a Pioneer or Toshiba drive which doesn't have many marks on the drive tray. GlacialTech includes
an aluminum cover which sticks on the front of the drive tray
to hide it.
The Altair A380 is about
the same size as your old VCR, but much more stylish.
By the media card reader is a small IR port which can be used with a remote control which is included. GlacialTech claims that the IR is compatible with a wireless keyboard and mouse but neither was included so that part could not be tested. The remote is compatible with WindowsXP Media Center, Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate. Operating systems not listed will not be compatible with the remote unfortunately.
The alternate IR panel can be used to
control other IR sensitive devices using a single remote.
The included Microsoft Media
Center remote works well with most HTPC software, but only function under
Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows
The remote is designed to act like a mouse and despite the complex look is actually quite easy to get used to. There is a status LED on the remote which lights up when you press a button, which is handy for troubleshooting purposes. Two AAA batteries are included so after you set up your system, you're ready to rock and roll.