Moneual MonCaso: Touchscreen Gadgetry and Solid Cooling in One?

Cases|Damping
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MP3 RECORDINGS

  • Moneual Moncaso 932 — Config 1 (System default) @ idle: 33 dBA@1m: One Meter
  • Moneual Moncaso 932 — Config 1 (System default) @ load: 34 dBA@1m: One Meter
  • Moneual Moncaso 932 — Config 2 (Reduced Fan Speed) @ idle: 25 dBA@1m: One Meter
  • Moneual Moncaso 932 — Config 2 (Reduced Fan Speed) @ load: 27 dBA@1m: One Meter
  • Moneual Moncaso 932 — Config 3 (Media Drive Enabled) @ HDD seek: 30 dBA@1m: One Meter

Sound Recordings of Comparative Systems

  • Antec NSK-3480 — 42~85W 24 dBA@1m: One Meter
  • Antec NSK-3480 — 135~193W 25 dBA@1m: One Meter
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system and are intended to represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

CONCLUSIONS

The Moncaso 932 certainly has potential. Its large size and colorful touchscreen make it a showpiece rather than an unobtrusive box, but in a high-end home theater (the target market), that may be desirable. The thermal design is probably its best feature. It is well ventilated, and there are vents in all the right places. There should be no cooling issues with the case if the rest of the system is properly built. And, if the fans are replaced with quieter models, it shouldn't be too tough to silence, though the hard-mounted hard drives could cause problems. Our recommendation: Network storage, with the system installed on a quiet, suspended notebook drive.

While the touchscreen was a nice gadget and a useful addition for audio applications, it was not the solution to navigating-by-remote that we hoped it might be. The FrontView software provided with the screen was clearly designed for use with a remote, not a stylus. Even if our sample had been working, it's difficult to see how it would have improved usability. What's really needed is a small, wireless touchscreen that can take the place of a remote control, but VGA-over-wireless is still a pipe dream at the moment. (Side note: Apple's iPod is currently the best known interface for navigating media in a handheld device. The iPod Touch had Bluetooth. Sooner or later, someone will figure out that the iPod touch would make an excellent HTPC remote control and write an appropriate application.)

Even without the touchscreen functionality, the LCD screen minus the touchscreen is a nice feature to have. A secondary screen to display metadata while the main screen shows a video is a feature worth paying for, as is the ability to navigate without using an external screen. A full size LCD is vastly superior to a four-line VFD in this regard. Our advice to Moneual: Lose the touchscreen until software support improves and go with a regular LCD.

All in all, the Moncaso has enough good points that it will probably do well in its target high end market, but it needs better fans to win us over completely. A more advanced mounting system for the drives would also help. Moneual has already tweaked the case before our sample revised, so our hope is that they are listening and will release a new revision at some point in the future.

Many thanks to Moneual for supplying the Moncaso 932 sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Zalman's HD135 HTPC Case: Gasping for Air
Zalman TNN-300 Fanless PC Enclosure System
Antec NSK2400 / Fusion Media PC Case
Zalman HD160 Home Theater Enclosure
Cases: Basics and Recommendations

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