When we mentioned earlier that Antec went with a classic design, we meant that the Antec Fusion follows the typical philosophy of blending the HTPC with traditional living room decor. HTPC casings are modeled to resemble consumer electronics devices like home theater systems with silver and black the predominant colors, together with display LCDs and an array of knobs and buttons. The simplicity of the Fusion enclosure has all these characteristics with a charm of its own.
While naysayers might find it too plain, in many ways, the design is quite comparable to the ones found on competitors like SilverStone. Most consumers would probably be attracted initially to the Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) that is able to show pertinent information related to the HTPC and running applications. Antec claims that it is fully supported by Windows Media Center and a CD with the drivers are provided to ensure that it works and there are even Linux drivers for download on Antec's website. With appropriate software, the multi-functional display will show summarized key information about the application running on the PC, hence it can show regular graphics equalizer information, email or even weather reports.
Below the VFD, the Antec Fusion features only one external 5.25-inch bay. With DVD writers at its cheapest, one optical drive is probably all you'll need for both reading and writing media so this limitation is not that much of an inconvenience now. However, there will probably come the time where you might want to invest in HD-DVD, Blu-ray or both. The expected array of ports and jacks (two USB2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks) are clearly displayed on the front bezel and not hidden unlike some HTPC designs. We did find the reset button a bit too tiny for our fingers. Perhaps Antec intended that to avoid accidents but we would have preferred a larger button. The volume control knob is pretty standard, doubling up as a quick mute button as well if you press it inwards.
While the front bezel is made with a combination of aluminum and plastic, the rest of the casing is constructed with rolled steel to ensure a solid frame. Hence, you could probably stack your video recorder on top of the Fusion with no ill effects, but the downside is that the Fusion can easily weigh up to 10kg or more once all components are installed.
It is also probably not wise to clutter the sides of the Fusion, as that may hinder airflow, which is so important for a quiet and efficient HTPC. As part of its Quiet Computing paradigm, the Antec Fusion has numerous air vents at the sides, bottom and the back of the enclosure. All these ventilation holes are there to optimize internal ventilation and keep your system cool. They are also critical to the heat isolation concept favored by Antec, which we will elaborate more later.