I stopped by BFG yesterday, makers of the Phobos—a mega performance/home theatre PC aimed at the rich and the lazy. Their touchscreen-wielding Phobos is an understated best of a PC, but I'm more interested in what they're planning next.
Starting at $US3,000 (and easily reaching $US10,000+), the Phobos features a single-pieced aluminium body tastefully coated in black car paint. The DVD drives are slot-loading, the USB/SD card reader pops up from the case and everything is so simple and tucked away that I'd have missed the iPhone doc on top of the case had they not pointed it out.
Its touchscreen LCD, mounted to the front of the monolith, can do everything from boot the system to one-touch tweak its performance settings thanks to the fact that it runs its own processor and custom Linux OS.
The machine, packed standard with luxuries like dual video cards and SSD boot drives—is actually not meant to be opened by the user. Instead, BFG includes a full professional installation and 6-month on-site tune-up in their pricing for the system. They'll also send pros out to install new components like video cards—upgrades they fairly offer for the difference between the price of your old card and the price of the new card. But the Phobos is still very easy to open (the case slides right up).
Looking under the hood, it becomes obvious that BFG has designed a normal tower PC and flipped the whole thing 90-degrees so that its sits on its own ports. The design allows the machine to pull in air from the top and expel air out the bottom. It's a smart idea that apparently cuts down on dust and pet hair inhalation.
The processor is water cooled and the cords neatly arranged. But it's all for bragging rights since BFG doesn't want you hassled with cracking the case anyway.
So the Phobos is nice, but I had two ideas for improvements. If the touchscreen popped out of the case, the system would work far better as an HTPC since you could take the remote to the couch.
BFG's next model will have that.
And the size. The Phobos is huge, easily the biggest tower I've seen in some time.
BFG is working on a lower tier Phobos model with a smaller footprint.
The company is realistic. BFG knows that most hardcore PC gamers prefer to build their own PCs and that many HTPC users would prefer something small. But they're happy in their service-oriented niche, even if it means selling 500 uber PCs a month. Still, shrink the thing and offer me an innovative PC remote...and maybe we'll talk. [BFG Systems]