Thinking outside the box
Maybe it's nostalgia talking, but I think Shuttle's G2 faceplate is easily the company's most attractive cube treatment.
Unfortunately, as good as the black face plate looks with its drive bays empty, a beige optical drive completely ruins the SB75G2's aesthetic. 5.25" or 3.5" drives don't necessarily have to be black to match, though. The G2 faceplate's silver buttons and screws nicely accent shiny silver memory card readers and optical drives. Heck, even a silver floppy drive would look decent.
Shuttle's competitors have incorporated an array of hinged and sliding drive bay covers to prevent mismatched optical drives from ruining a cube's appearance, but the G2 faceplate has no such luxuries. I'm a little puzzled about why Shuttle's designers haven't come up with a drive bay cover of some kind.
Moving along, the G2 face plate also has a cluster of audio, USB, and Firewire ports. Analog headphone, microphone, and line-in ports populate the bottom of the face plate along with a couple of USB ports and a single Firewire port.
Because small form factor systems tend to have cramped internals, cooling and air flow are always concerns. To improve ventilation, Shuttle gives the SB75G2's side panels some fancy mesh screens that actually look pretty trick. The screens also give outsiders a peek inside the system, but without any filtering, they also let dust inside the system.
Around the back, the SB75G2 has a full suite of ports and plugs. The Canterwood chipset doesn't have an integrated graphics core, so the SB75G2 has no video output ports. This lack of video ports leaves plenty of room for a couple of serial ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, an Ethernet jack, Firewire port, and four USB ports.
Because its analog audio inputs are all located at the front of the system, the SB75G2's rear analog output ports don't have to do double duty. Analog out ports are available for front, rear, and center channels, and the system even has a couple of S/PDIF ports for digital audio input and output. I'm not sure why Shuttle put the SB75G2's S/PDIF all the way in the top corner, especially since the port cluster has room to spare, but the odd placement doesn't create any problems.
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