Edition-Mania: AOpen, Asus and Azza With Interesting Add-Ons
The air is getting thinner and thinner in the motherboard market. High competition causes decreasing margins and forces the motherboard companies to expand their business to other sectors. All big motherboard makers have already established divisions for CD/DVD drives, multimedia products, cases or network products long ago. However, the production of motherboards still remains the core business and no company wants to lose market share.
The most difficult work is to introduce a brand. As soon as that is done, you have to concentrate on providing products that are reliable, fast and affordable. If you succeeded with that, the next step is making your products more attractive. One approach is to include extraordinary hardware features like a SCSI, RAID or FireWire controller. The problem is that those components will automatically increase the price of the motherboard, making it less attractive to many users.
The second way is to find the ideal hardware equipment in order to provide a reliable and fast product that is still affordable for the majority. In addition, the manufacturer develops useful add-ons. This article concentrates on special hardware that has to be installed into a 5.25" drive bay. Azza uses such a module to make USB and audio jacks available at the front of your computer case. AOpen took a CD box and added LEDs which will inform you about several types of system failure and Asus seems to have the most clever solution before the actual review starts: The Asus iPanel merges connectors and monitoring features.