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Author Topic: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix  (Read 23870 times)

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saint

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Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« on: December 30, 2005, 01:45:33 pm »
Got this well before Christmas, but with family and other holiday joys, I'm just now getting to this review. Ed from Arcade In A Box sent me one of his AIAB kits to play with, and I'll tell you what I think, of course :)

If you haven't heard of AIAB (where have you been?), the basic concept is an arcade control panel box that not only houses the arcade controls, it also houses the entire guts of a computer as well. The only thing you need to do is connect the box to audio and video outputs to play.

AIAB sells plans for the unit, kits for the wood and mounting hardware (which is what I received), deluxe kits with arcade controls included, and they'll even give you a quote for a unit including the computer components.

Frankly my expectations were not high - not that I had anything but a tremendous amount of respect for Ed, on the contrary he's been around the community for quite a while and has always been a stand-up-fellow - but I was basically expecting some pieces of wood, pre-cut holes, and some screws. I was very pleasantly surprised however at the lengths Ed's gone to in putting this together.

The kit arrived very well packed in a large box, and looked like this when unpacked:


Plastic wrapped wood pieces and box o' parts.


And unwrapped -- everything was well protected, no dings or scrapes. This shows the inside faces.


Outside faces. Ed chose the colors :)

Notice the labelling on the inside faces of the wood. I was *extremely* impressed with the labelling on this kit. If you've ever put together kit bookshelves or similar furniture, you know that labelling pieces can be hit or miss. Often the hardest part is figuring out which danged piece it is the instructions are referring to. There was no such confusion here. Every single piece of the kit was labelled.


Individual bags with each set of hardware labelled.


I was so impressed I had to take two pictures.


OK, three pictures. No ambiguity on what goes where!


Assembling the frame was straight forward and easy enough. All needed screws are included, and Ed threw in a bottle of wood glue to help make the rig extra secure. As I took pictures and toyed with the kit it never showed any sign of wobbling or fragility.


Control panel installed. First issue I ran into was here - some of the pre-drilled holes were ever so slightly off-the-mark, so that when I was assembling I had to nudge it a bit while screwing in the screws. I've run into the same issue when putting together pre-fab furniture. In the end result everything fits together well and there are no defects or issues to deal with,  but a few (very few) of the connections required a moment's thought and a bit of pressure while assembling.


The fully assembled box. I particularly like the hinges Ed includes, I'm going to find the same hinges and use them in all my control panels here on out.

It would have been easy to stop here and just tell the customer to install their computer parts in the box without giving direction. However, AIAB has done an excellent job of laying out where components go, labelling and pre-drilling holes, and providing the hardware to mount the components in the box. For instance, they tell you which mounting holes on your CD-ROM drive to use, provide the screws and brackets to install it, and when installed the front of the drive aligns perfectly with side of the box (see pic further on down). Nice attention to detail here and it showed.

I did have to go it alone on my motherboard mounting however, although the screws and standoffs were included. The front-mounted USB cables supplied by AIAB were not long enough to reach the connectors on my motherboard when the motherboard was oriented per the pre-drilled holes on the base of the kit. All the other connectors had long enough cables, and I would have liked to have seen longer cables on the USB ports. However, there was plenty of room in the box and moving my motherboard 90-degrees solved the problem.


Front mounted USB port.


Inside the box with all my computer hardware mounted.


I particularly liked the power button included. Standard microswitch arcade push-button connects directly to your motherboard with the included cable.

Next I installed the arcade controls. All the holes were the right size and installing the arcade controls was a non-event. You do have to drill your own screw holes due to the wide variety of mounting patterns different arcade controls have.


Arcade controls installed. Ultimarc joysticks, transluscent pushbuttons bought from one of the vendors here (someone help me I'm drawing a blank!), and a Betson-Imperial trackball. Plenty of room on the panel to add additional controls, the current layout is a default config chosen by AIAB.


Inside the box. I chose to use the Ultimarc Mini-Pac for this unit. Yes, I know the wires aren't actually connected yet :)


Side shot showing flush-mounted CD-ROM drive and exhaust fan.


Shot of back showing Audio-Video ports, VGA, and power connector.

All in all I was favorably impressed by the AIAB kit. Solid components, well done instructions, lots of attention to detail. I imagine it would take someone unfettered by distractions about 3 to 4 hours to put the whole thing together. I enjoyed putting it together, was at about a "0.0" on the cursing scale while constructing, and did not have to invest too much time in assembly. Everything seems well thought out and quality was good.

There are a few things I would like to see addressed. Longer USB cables and the addition of an S-Video jack on the audio-video panel (which can be easily picked up online if you want to do so yourself) address physical concerns. I would have liked to have seen installation photos in the instructions to match the excellent documenting and labelling. This could be sent via a PDF or with pictures online for those who operate better visually than with written instructions. I'd also like to see additional flexibility in choosing layout and design of your controls (for instance, pinball flipper buttons), however adding your own is easy enough and there's plenty of room.

My rule of thumb when considering something like this, particularly in light of the "build your own" spirit a lot of our visitors have, is whether or not it would have been easier or cheaper to do it yourself instead of buying. For most people I would say that this kit clearly passes this test. When you factor in the time, effort and money not spent in materials, woodworking and design, this is one hell of a kit! Prices start at $250 and up depending on options chosen. If you're looking for an all-in-one box I wouldn't hesitate to recommend picking one up. Mine is going in our guestroom in our new basement! :)

--- saint


Arcade In A Box!
Comments/questions/criticisms? Let's hear them here! Also keep an eye out for Killer Clown's review of his AAIB unit over at Mameworld :)

Edit: Spelling
« Last Edit: December 31, 2005, 11:25:51 am by saint »
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2005, 01:57:30 pm »
 :o  NICE!!!  :o
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2005, 01:59:32 pm »
aside from the color combo (wheres the red and black) i think it looks very professional.
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2005, 02:08:19 pm »
Thanks for the review Saint, do you mind giving us some dimensions for the box? My project is basically the same thing, I'm just curious what size enclosure he used.

Thanks.
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2005, 02:13:07 pm »
I'm curious how you utilize such a thing.    It looks too big for my lap or my desk;  do you put it on a table?
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2005, 02:37:45 pm »
I'm not sure about his, but mine is optimized for coffee table usage. It probably has rubber feet on the bottom. My guess is it's way to heavy for your lap so, coffee table it is.
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2005, 02:56:21 pm »
Hello,

What are the dimensions of the box? Would the single player be any smaller?
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2005, 03:30:01 pm »
im thinking a single player would be slightly smaller.  the computer parts would make a single player box be either higher but not as long or wide.
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2005, 03:46:41 pm »
Wow, thanks for the great Review Saint :).

I'll try to answers as many of the questions you guys have in the next few posts.


I just wanted to mention a few things first. 

1.  The demo boxes I sent to both Saint and KillerClown (Mameworld) were done with melamine coated particle board and painted.  This is not the way retail boxes are done.  They are black melamine coated particle board.

2.  As for the color scheme, I was trying to just show that not everyone has to stick with the normal black on black box.  It was just to show some variety.  The box KC got is black with Chrome molding.  I think Saint can agree that the blue is actually a bit darker than the photos.  I'm guessing the flash from the camera lightened it up a bit, maybe?  It's been a while so maybe I just forgot ;).

Ok, I'll answer questions now. 
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 11:48:07 pm by ArcadEd »

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2005, 04:02:15 pm »
Quote
There are a few things I would like to see addressed. Longer USB cables and the addition of an S-Video jack on the audio-video panel (which can be easily picked up online if you want to do so yourself) address physical concerns. I would have liked to have seen installation photos in the instructions to match the excellent documenting and labelling. This could be sent via a PDF or with pictures online for those who operate better visually than with written instructions. I'd also like to see additional flexibility in choosing layout and design of your controls (for instance, pinball flipper buttons), however adding your own is easy enough and there's plenty of room.


First up, some of Saint's concerns:
I would love to get longer USB cables, if I can ever find them you bet I will.  I have extended a few for personal boxes, but it is just way to time consuming.  If anyone knows of a place to get longer USB to Motherboard backplates, please let me know.  I will continue to look.  UPDATE:  Longer USB cables are now used.  They are about 12-16"

S-video jack is something I have thought about.  However, you can get boxes with component plugs now as well.  So pretty much composite or component option.  I'll do more research on the s-video stuff and post if that changes.  UPDATE:  S-video is the standard now with high definition options

I also agree on the instructions.  As I train more in some CAD software, this will be included in future kits.

And yes, the boxes are completely customizable.  You can just send me a direct email telling me if you want something different.  Here is an example of the control panel I did for one customer that wanted a back lit marquee on his CP www.arcadeinabox.com/paul1.jpg.  It included a shelf on the underside for his lamp to sit on.

Now that I have a CNC Router, the boxes will cut using that.  Parts should fit much tighter.

Thanks again Saint for the awesome write up.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Quote
aside from the color combo (wheres the red and black) i think it looks very professional.  although for the cd drive i think a matching plate would be good but its fine.

its a little big though and i see some wasted space which you cant really help.  size is dictated by the controls.  i like the take anywhere idea and am left wondering do they have kits for a micro mobo?


The matching plate is a good idea.  Problem is, at least with a kit, everyone has a different CDROM they will use in their box.  If you can think of a way, please let me know.

I do make boxes using Micro ATX boards as well.  The biggest issue with Micro boards is it is hard to find one with onboard component out.  Soon as I find one of those at a good price, I'll advertise it more. 
--------------------------------------------------------------

Quote
Thanks for the review Saint, do you mind giving us some dimensions for the box? My project is basically the same thing, I'm just curious what size enclosure he used.

Thanks.


The control panel itself is 32" x 17" (16" on the ends)
The box is 30" x 15 3/4", 8" high in the back, 7" high in the front.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Quote
Hello,

What are the dimensions of the box? Would the single player be any smaller?

See above for the dimensions
The box is a bit smaller for the single player version.  Using a micro ATX board and power supply.  Roughly 22" in length.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Quote
I'm curious how you utilize such a thing.    It looks too big for my lap or my desk;  do you put it on a table?


Saved this one for last :).

There are many uses.  Some people build their cabinet around the box, the box being their control panel for easy access to all the computer stuff.

Others have built a stand for the box to plug it into their big screen tv or projector.

I just have a rolling table it sits on and I roll it out whenver I want to use it.

I'll try and answer more questions as they come up.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 11:50:35 pm by ArcadEd »

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2005, 04:02:44 pm »
Hey ArcadeEd,

Do the kits have any grounding problems that need to be sorted out?

The reason I ask is because I am building something similar (hell, if I'd have known you were around, I probably would have been a customer) and I was wondering if you experienced any trouble.

Also, I plan on ordering a power switch from you, you're online ordering is up and ready to go?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2005, 04:05:01 pm by JonnyBoy »
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2005, 04:04:13 pm »
Yeah, you can order anytime or just send me a PM here and I can send a paypal invoice or whatever.

Not sure what you mean by grounding problems?  You mean for the power supply?

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2005, 04:06:43 pm »
Oh, one more thing I should mention.

The site and prices and will be going through a bit of a change.  Now that the CNC Router is running, A lot of the pricing will be reduced.  Stay tuned for that :).

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2005, 05:28:51 pm »
Just popped in to say Hello Ed....

Nice to see ya....

 :)

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2005, 05:43:09 pm »
Just popped in to say Hello Ed....

Nice to see ya....

 :)

Hey bud, nice to see you over here.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2005, 06:57:17 pm »
Hey bud, nice to see you over here.

Yea I'm Slumming it for a while....

 ;D

J/K... I've lurked here for years....

I'm was waiting on the Kranky Krauts review, seems Saint's quicker off the mark

Hope it all pans out....I better not Hijack the thread

Just All the best in the new year mate....

Hugs and Kisses.... :-*

Orc..

 :laugh:


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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2005, 10:29:07 pm »

Quote
aside from the color combo (wheres the red and black) i think it looks very professional.  although for the cd drive i think a matching plate would be good but its fine.

its a little big though and i see some wasted space which you cant really help.  size is dictated by the controls.  i like the take anywhere idea and am left wondering do they have kits for a micro mobo?


The matching plate is a good idea.  Problem is, at least with a kit, everyone has a different CDROM they will use in their box.  If you can think of a way, please let me know.

For the matching plate you can use the solution some of the fancier cases and some HTPC's use. Some people call them steath covers, all they are are hinged plates slightly wider then the CDRom and the sit flush with the edge with the Eject button in the "standard" place. Push the eject button, the tray opens and pushes open this hinged door.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2005, 10:32:32 pm »

Quote
aside from the color combo (wheres the red and black) i think it looks very professional.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2005, 10:58:11 pm »
It's nice, but the one thing that bothers me is the size. It really looks a bit too large. That's the reason I stuck with the J-Rcade, I could pare it down to a reasonable size and still get all the controls I wanted. I might still put in the 2 1/4" trackball right in the panel, but honestly it's kinda nice to have the external trackball wired up, as I can pass that around to friends in a circle, and we don't have to swap places in Golden Tee. Also plan on one day maybe mounting a slimline DVD in the front slot area, but really have no need to do that now. I transfer alot of files just over the network, and when I install anything I can throw in a spare drive.

This pic gives a decent view of the size I ended up with. Of course, if you're a traditionalist, I guess you're better off with T-Molding and whatnot. :) The rest are in my sig. Happy gaming man, it's nice to have something you can take to a friends house and lay some smack down.



I've been playing with my new toys Santa brought me, a wireless logitech pad, and a Logitech Momo racing wheel set. Whee!



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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2005, 11:07:38 pm »
It's nice, but the one thing that bothers me is the size. It really looks a bit too large. That's the reason I stuck with the J-Rcade, I could pare it down to a reasonable size and still get all the controls I wanted. I might still put in the 2 1/4" trackball right in the panel, but honestly it's kinda nice to have the external trackball wired up, as I can pass that around to friends in a circle, and we don't have to swap places in Golden Tee. Also plan on one day maybe mounting a slimline DVD in the front slot area, but really have no need to do that now. I transfer alot of files just over the network, and when I install anything I can throw in a spare drive.

This pic gives a decent view of the size I ended up with. Of course, if you're a traditionalist, I guess you're better off with T-Molding and whatnot. :) The rest are in my sig. Happy gaming man, it's nice to have something you can take to a friends house and lay some smack down.



I've been playing with my new toys Santa brought me, a wireless logitech pad, and a Logitech Momo racing wheel set. Whee!

Hey man, that is really nice looking.

The size is really dependent on what is going to go in it.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2005, 11:57:39 pm »
Thanks for the kind words. I haven't updated the pics recently, but I finally got around to making what I feel was a decent skin set for mamewah, and all the various consoles. I also mounted a couple of USB ports in the front slot I left for expansion, as well as a ps2 extension cable for the trackball, as I hacked it to a ps2 mouse. The wireless gamepad uses the one extra USB inside I normally reserve for the wireless NIC, and that leaves the two fronts for a wired USB gamepad and the steering wheel. When I designed it originally, I never planned on running newer games and such, but now I feel the need to. There is no room for an AGP card to go in vertically, but I have found right angle AGP connectors that just might do the trick. I'll have to wait for a day when I can sneak those funds past the wife. :)

right angle connectors http://www.meritec.com/Pages/products/agp/agpconnector.html

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2005, 12:10:29 am »
Thanks for the kind words. I haven't updated the pics recently, but I finally got around to making what I feel was a decent skin set for mamewah, and all the various consoles. I also mounted a couple of USB ports in the front slot I left for expansion, as well as a ps2 extension cable for the trackball, as I hacked it to a ps2 mouse. The wireless gamepad uses the one extra USB inside I normally reserve for the wireless NIC, and that leaves the two fronts for a wired USB gamepad and the steering wheel. When I designed it originally, I never planned on running newer games and such, but now I feel the need to. There is no room for an AGP card to go in vertically, but I have found right angle AGP connectors that just might do the trick. I'll have to wait for a day when I can sneak those funds past the wife. :)

right angle connectors http://www.meritec.com/Pages/products/agp/agpconnector.html


Hey that is cool.  Thanks for the link.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2005, 03:54:05 pm »
If I would have known about that...I could have cut 4 inches off my project....grrrr.  ;)
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2006, 03:43:01 pm »
J-Rod,

Which of those angle adapter are you going with?
« Last Edit: January 11, 2006, 04:25:09 pm by ArcadEd »

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2006, 05:34:23 pm »
So what we are seeing here is a prototype?

I am looking at the computer placement and think it is horrible.  PC cases are designed with air flow in mind, same with motherboards.  The reason the processor is near the top of the mother board and near the power supply is because heat rises and the large psu fan helps suck the processor heat out.

I am assuming the case fan by the motherboard is intake and the case fan by the psu is exhaust?  You know AMD says you only need good exhaust.  They have an article and many testers have proven the point (including me) that having only exhaust fan with intake vents keeps the system the coolest.
http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ComputingSolutions/0,,30_288_13265_13295%5E13333,00.html
http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/cooling_guide.pdf
http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/23794.pdf


Also, if you are looking for extremely quite but affordable fans look at silenx.
http://www.silenxusa.com/productcart/pc/mainindex.asp

I like the fact that you have the ultra modular psu in there, those things are awesome.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2006, 05:48:59 pm »
I appreciate the input SirPoonga, and no prototype was done years ago.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2006, 06:03:49 pm by ArcadEd »

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2006, 06:10:20 pm »
First, I'm just making my observtion based on the articles form AMD and the overclocker community that has tried them out.
I think we are coming to the same conclusion here.  Basically since the CPU is not near the PSU, the other fan is there to help blow the heat towards the exhaust.
Which isn't really needed as the air has to come from somewhere.  If oyu made that a left fan just a vent...

Quote
I'd like to go with one fan if it worked.  Problem is most cases, the Power Supply exhaust sticks out the back of the case blowing the heat out.  In this case, the PS is inside the case with no place for the heat to go.  If that makes sense. 
To sum up the amd articles you want negative pressure in the case, meaning you want more fans to push air out than in.  If you only have the case fan going out (which you'd need two probably for this application)  the air has no choice but to move form left to right, meaning the warm air form the ps inside the case isn't going to make it over to the motherboard.

This does create a question, why didn't you flush mount the psu like the cd drive then?  It would save on a fan.

Again, I'm no expert.  Just observations from reading colling articles (as I am trying to make my home computer as quiet and cool as possible).

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2006, 06:59:04 pm »
First, I'm just making my observtion based on the articles form AMD and the overclocker community that has tried them out.
I think we are coming to the same conclusion here.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2006, 01:24:57 pm »
Hello,
I went to the website http://www.arcadeinabox.com and a blank screen with the words "Arcade in a Box" cane up. Is the site down temporarily?

Jack

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2006, 09:33:46 pm »
It's up right now -- temporary glitch methinks
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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2006, 08:48:20 pm »
I think its a cool concept but it looks kinda heavy and bulky
Going to Mcdonalds for a salad is like going to a crack house for vitamins.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2006, 07:38:08 pm »
Hello,
I went to the website http://www.arcadeinabox.com and a blank screen with the words "Arcade in a Box" cane up. Is the site down temporarily?

Jack

Yeah, we are switching hosts and getting the new site up.  The new site is currently up, with the new online store and forums to go up over the weekend, hopefully :).

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2006, 07:40:10 pm »
I think its a cool concept but it looks kinda heavy and bulky

The standard unit is both.  Using full size motherboards, Expansion cards and power supplies, it had to be somewhat larger.  That unit is designed for those that have computer parts laying around that they would want to use.

However, you can go to the site and see the new slimline system.  It's much more compact :).  This system will replace the Full System.  The kits will be supplied in both versions as well.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2011, 10:37:25 pm »
Can this unit be purchased anywhere now? I would like to buy or built a similar but updated unit anyone have info on this?

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2011, 10:48:23 pm »
I stopped making these years and years ago.  Would be cool if there someone out there doing something similar all these years later. 

Good luck.  I'd be happy to help if you have any questions.

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Re: Arcade In A Box review - bandwidth warning, many pix
« Reply #35 on: August 25, 2011, 08:19:24 am »
Can this unit be purchased anywhere now? I would like to buy or built a similar but updated unit anyone have info on this?

It's unlikely to help if you're in the U.S., but we have also been building similar projects to this for many years too, if any UK and European customers have been looking for something like these.