15 Cases For Review

Manufacturers, Marketers, Distributors, Knock-Offs, Same As, Looks Like

A question that continues to arise about cases concerns the continued re-badging or re-branding of the same case. In many cases, the case that is sold by a company as `its own' case is actually the same case that is being sold by several other companies.

Many times, the company you purchase the case from is not the manufacturer that built the case. Often times, a company will contract with a manufacturer in Asia to produce cases for the company's unique specifications. More often than not, though, the company selects and purchases off-the-shelf case models in bulk quantities before importing them into the country where they will be sold. Sometimes, depending on the customer and the particular situation, the case manufacturer might grant limited, exclusive marketing rights for a particular case or line of cases to be sold only by that company in a particular geographic area.

Sound confusing? It really isn't. The majority of cases are manufactured in Asia by a group of manufacturers. Most of these companies are not secretive about what they manufacture and have been in this business for years. Often times, they manufacture cases for others since they do not want to go through the hassle and expense of developing, marketing, branding and exporting their own products. The manufacturers' relationships with case marketers and distributors allow these manufacturers to keep their costs low and to continue to focus on doing what they do best.

Some manufacturers, such as Chieftec, build cases for a variety of well-known customers. In the case of the Chieftec design, this case has earned its reputation of quality and consumer acceptance, which has led to its purchase by many distributors and sellers. This begs the question: is there any difference in the Chieftec cases marketed by various different firms? The answer is `no,' as in almost all instances these cases are the same, offering the same quality and construction.

As we mentioned, normally this isn't a problem. However, if you don't look carefully before you buy, you might purchase a `knock-off' that looks very similar to one of the cases in this review. Often times, knock-offs are built using much cheaper materials, are constructed poorly, and feature sub-standard quality power supplies.

These fly-by-night manufacturers seem to spring up like weeds every few months. The good news is that they usually don't stay in business long, once word gets out that the quality of these cases isn't good. Unfortunately, however, frequently by the time product returns and warranty issues arise, the company is out of business and can't be found - only to open again a few months later using a different name and address. This allows these manufacturers to dump a quantity of sub-par cases at a very cheap price. These cases are marketed as "XXX-like brand" cases, and they are sometimes even branded (illegally) with the same name as the real case manufacturer. Needless to say, the quality of the knock-off cases is usually inferior to that of the original manufacturers.

What is the harm here? In most instances, it is the consumers who get screwed when they need product support and want to return products for warrantied repair and replacement. We tried, without success, to talk to some of the manufacturers about this ongoing problem, but none would address it. This appears to be a "dirty little secret" within the case manufacturing business that the case manufacturers prefer to ignore and not publicly acknowledge.

That said, what can YOU do to make sure that when you purchase a case you are getting the "real" case from the original manufacturer? To begin with, look carefully at the box in which the case is shipped. In many instances, this will reveal its origin. For example, authentic Antec cases ship in boxes that are clearly labeled as made by Antec. Next, when the price is significantly less than the price of the "real" case, it may be a knock-off. Some vendors are notorious for selling these types of cases at consumer computer shows and hawking them as "just like XXX, but much better priced." As we have suggested before, do some research to make sure that you are getting what you think you are getting. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Caveat emptor ("Let the buyer beware") is the rule.

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