The first thing you notice about the b-Envi is the small stature. While this isn't uncommon in an HTPC case, most manufacturers have gone the route of making the box look like a piece of stereo equipment. Bgears has turned a different direction and have opted for an appearance like the old SFF cases, which actually had enough room inside to do something with.
The enclosure itself is aluminum with a very glossy plastic front bezel. Again, not unusual in itself, but the fact that you can even make out carpet fibers in the above photograph shows that they have taken "glossy" a step further than normal and have allowed their bezel to truly shine.
Another added feature is that you can fit two optical devices in this box. One has become the norm anymore, so it is good that you can do your own ripping with this design. We're not finished with the front, though.
Toward the bottom of the front bezel is the expected I/O ports, but with an unexpected surprise. Yes, we have the headphone and microphone ports we planned on seeing as well as three USB 2.0 ports, but positioned just to the left of these you also get a built in media card panel. It covers all current standards and should suit all of your needs with regards to importing data from your cameras, thumb drives and media cards. The only thing missing is a IEEE1394 Firewire port so you will need to resort to a motherboard connection if you have need of this type of connectivity.
Moving around to the side panel shows a nice sized window for showing off your gear. Those with a keen eye will note than you can see the floor from inside the enclosure. This is because both sides of the b-Envi are windowed. Uh-oh, guess you're going to have to work on your cable management now, but just think of the end result!
The back panel is pretty standard, except that it is taller than most HTPC type cases. This added height not only gives you enough room for added components, it also allows the use of a full sized power supply and a large 120mm fan. These are unexpected but pleasant features in a box of this size.
Though the b-Envi comes with a backplate for your motherboard's rear connections, it easily pops out so you can use the plate that came with your motherboard. Speaking of which, this enclosure is obviously of a small size so you will be limited in your choice of motherboards to mATX or Baby ATX formats. Either of these boards will fit easily into the case with minimal fuss. Oh, and to make that motherboard installation even easier...
The b-Envi comes with a removable motherboard tray! You know, I find it kind of sad that a manufacturer will create a HTPC box with this feature but it is a crap shoot to find one that will include this in a mid-tower or larger sized box. Kudos to Bgears for a bit of common sense.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
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Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at PLE Computer's website.
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon Canada's website.
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