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Creators of strange and beautiful PC cases: come out of your basements.

The Shuttle Group has rewarded one enterprising designer with a contract to create a design prototype for the company. Shuttle has been selling add-ins and motherboards for years, but has successfully branched out into barebones systems with its beautiful SS-series xPCs.

One enthusiast Mark Foster took the Cube-like case and added a 7-inch 800x480 LCD inside the front panel, creating an all-in-one design he keeps on top of the fridge as a DVD player.

It's his first case mod, Mark tell us. But he's a seasoned engineer: he was previously at DEC and VP of PowerBooks Engineering at Apple, where he oversaw the introduction of the G3, the first iBooks and Airport, and director of portable computing at DEC, where he introduced the HiNote, the first ultrathin laptop.

"I've been pushing home theatre PCs for many years," he told us today. "I wanted something that would nice on my A/V rack."

This required moving the front i/o ports to the back of the machine, and relocating the LCDs, but the result is really quite marvelous, as you can see here. A growing number of dealers are selling custom case mods, which clearly shows there's a demand for something unique.

Intel showcased some of the most interesting case mods at its Developer Forum in San Jose recently, and the difference between these and the "ConceptPCs" of yore was striking. The ConceptPCs were more contrived than the custom mods.

Shuttle has been selling motherboards for a decade, but ventured into bare bones systems with the launch of the Shuttle SS-40. The company will launch a version capable of accommodating Intel's multithreaded desktop processors, the SB-51G, on Friday. Congratulations to Mark, and we hope this sets a trend. ®

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